I’m constantly scanning the news online, trying to stay current with — well, with everything. A few days ago, this little gem from The West Australian caught my eye:
Beaches closed after shark sighting
Scarborough Beach has reopened after being evacuated earlier this morning when a hammerhead shark was spotted cruising a quarter-mile offshore by the Surf Life Saving WA helicopter.
The beach was packed with hundreds of people looking to escape what will be a scorching 100-degree day before they were ordered out of the water just before 11 a.m.
I’ve always had this mental picture of Australians: Tough, rugged, individualistic, fearless. Sort of but not quite like Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin.
And yet here they are, shutting down a beach because of a shark (which other reports said was 6 to 7 feet long) swimming a quarter-mile off the sand.
It’s not even a dangerous shark. There have been no recorded attacks attributed to hammerhead sharks, a species that has become popular with both cage and free divers around the world.
If we closed the beaches in Southwest Florida every time a shark 6 to 7 feet long came within a quarter mile of the surf, guess what? The beaches would pretty much be closed all the time. We have bull sharks all summer, sandbars all winter, nurses and hammerheads at any time, giant hammerheads during tarpon time.
I’ve watched people standing chest-deep at Boca Grande Pass while 14-foot hammerheads were killing tarpon less than 100 yards away. Take that, Australia!
And I don’t think they were in any danger, either. When they’re feeding on tarpon, hammers get pretty keyed in on that one prey species. Unless you put on a shiny tinfoil mermaid suit and tried to swim across the Pass, I doubt they’d go after a person.
Apparently I’m going to have to rethink my impression of what Australians are like — a little softer, a little squishier, a little more afraid of the dark than I had been led to believe. Or maybe we Americans are just a lot tougher by comparison.
If I have any Aussie readers, please explain to me why your compatriots are so paranoid about a pint-size shark. I mean, it’s not like it was a great white or anything.
Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@WaterLineWeekly.com.