Latest info on shark attacks
Written by Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer   
April 03, 2010 05:00 am

Anyone who steps foot into the ocean here will find this encouraging:

In 2009 there were only seven unprovoked shark attacks reported along the West Coast and ... wait for it ... all seven attacks happened in California!

Boy, California just can’t get a break. Earthquakes, wildfires, Arnold Schwarzenegger and now sharks.

This latest shark attack information was provided by the Shark Research Committee (www.sharkresearchcommittee.com), a non-profit scientific research organization that documents shark attacks along North America.

As someone who often surfs, kayaks and swims in the ocean, I appreciate the research. Of course the information begs some questions:

Why did sharks only attack California people? Do they taste better? Are they slower swimmers? Are the victims Democrat or Republican?

According to the Shark Research Committee, none of the the seven attacks in California were fatal and they happened throughout the year. Five of them happened in Southern California, south of the Santa Barbara – a fact unlikely to appear in chamber of commerce literature.

Perhaps Governor Schwarzenegger could don scuba gear and become the “Sharkinator.”

The victims were three surfers, a paddle boarder, a diver, a surf fisherman and a swimmer. So the important lesson here is, don’t surf, paddle, dive, fish or swim in the ocean – unless your swim buddy is Arnold.

White sharks were positively identified or highly suspected in five of the attacks, with one attack attributed to a thresher shark. (There’s always a rebel in the crowd.)

The information supports the Shark Research Committee’s claim that white sharks continue to pose the most threat to humans along the West Coast. Well, duh! They have a reputation to uphold. If it weren’t for white sharks there would be no “Shark Week” on Discovery Channel.

What is it anyway with this endless fascination with sharks – from the 1975 hit film “Jaws” to a feature segment on last Sunday’s “60 Min utes.”

I’m convinced that God put sharks in our oceans as a reminder that man isn’t always at the top of the food chain. Okay, we get it.

The latest scientific research shows that sharks are rather intelligent creatures, unlike the surfers who knowingly paddle into shark-infested waters.

In 2005, this newspaper published a story about a surfer who was bitten by a shark near the mouth of the Klamath River.  Like most surfers who have been gnawed on by one of nature’s most fearsome creatures, the surfer said it wouldn’t stop him from surfing again.

“Next time, I won’t go out alone. I’ll surf with a buddy,” he said. Which is pretty smart when you think about it. It decreases the odds of getting attacked to fifty-fifty.

The Shark Research Committee ended it’s press release about shark attacks saying it would continue to monitor shark activity along the West Coast. Good thing. I can always count on them when I’m desperate for column fodder.

Which reminds me of an old surfing joke:

Two sharks were swimming along when a surfer came paddling by on his board. “Look,” said one shark to the other. “Meat on a stick!”