Nature postsThursday September 19, 2013
Something Scarier than Sharks
Nice piece on great white sharks by Alec Wilkinson in the Sept. 9th New Yorker. It's called “Cape Fear” but it's locked online. Subscription only. So get your subscription already.
I relate to this portion of the article, and its last sentence, very, very well:
The appeal of white sharks to the imagination is so obvious that it hardly needs stating, but, even so, like all big, fierce creatures, they exemplify the mysterious and ungovernable parts of our lives. White sharks roam the ocean the way unspecified urges and figures roam the psyche—liable to appear abruptly, often destructively, and whenever they decide to, on their terms, not ours. When I think of white sharks, I think of the maps from antiquity that have whirlpools and sea monsters and blank areas where the unknown begins.
Once you enter the ocean deeper than your knees, you become part of the food chain.
Another great description later in the piece:
One woman told me that when she saw a white shark for the first time she felt as if she were seeing a dinosaur rising from the depths.
For the first time? Who is this woman that she's seen great whites more than once? And if she's scientist, why doesn't Wilkinson say so?
This next portion, by the way, is just kind of tossed out:
No one among the grownups I knew [as a kid] thought there were white sharks off Cape Cod becuase it wasn't discovered until the 1970s that they can raise their blood temperature as much as fifteen degrees above the water temperature, meaning they can tolerate much colder water than anyone believed they could.
In 1990, a white shark was seen off Cape Cod. Five years passed before another was sighted. Lobster divers in Provincetown said that they sometimes came face to face with them in the murky water off Race Point. In 1999, two were seen; one was seen in 2001 and four in 2004. Twenty-one were seen in 2012.
It's an article about sharks but there's something scarier than sharks.