The title Biting Back: just because great white sharks are protected doesn’t mean we should be on their menu of this LA Times op-ed almost says it all. It is symptomatic of the age we live in that an increasing proportion of our population believes that nature belongs in nature movies and we as individuals should never have to deal with its messy consequences. As I commented to Steve and Matt when I forwarded copies to them – it’s as though we have a RIGHT to always be at the top of the food chain! I was appalled that the author of this piece, presumably a savvy “nature writer” published in Outside and Environmental History, could have taken this tone.
Read the article to get the facts that undermine its emotional argument: there have been 11 fatal shark attacks in California in the last 55 years. That’s one every five years. Shall we compare those statistics with annual deaths due to car accidents, swimming pool drownings, home accidents and other risks we accept blithely each day? You know the answer and I’m not going through the exercise. Yet the author still feels entitled to say, ” The urban beaches of Southern California are not the same as an oceanic ‘wilderness’ like the Farallon Islands. They are our backyard. We should not have to forfeit our right to security the minute we step off dry sand — especially because the scientific case for the great white shark’s immediate endangerment becomes less convincing with each new sighting.”
This “right to security” in nature? Where does it come from?
The article gives the story of the poor woman killed by a shark while swimming off Avila Beach in 2003. The lady was in the habit of putting on a black wetsuit and fins and swimming in the middle of a group of seals each morning. How a predator was to discern her from its normal food supply is beyond me. It’s the moral equivalent of you or I grabbing a long steel rod and running to the top of the nearest tall hill in the middle of a thunderstorm. Not smart.
Sorry, but we all take risks as long as we’re breathing. Know your environment, know what its risks are, accept them and do what you can to minimize them, as intelligent people do.