Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bite Me, Bitch ...

During the weekend, an Australian woman from Brisbane was killed in a brutal shark attack at a popular beach near the city. The 21-year-old suffered extensive injuries, losing both arms below the elbow and sustaining deep wounds to her leg. It is thought that several Bull sharks carried out the attack. Apparently, they are notorious for being aggressive during the mating season and often try to attack humans.

There's always a ho-ha around any shark attack; speedboats full of guns and testosterone set out for revenge - humans have to get their own back. But like any animal, a shark is only doing what is natural in it's own surroundings.

It must be truly dreadful and shocking to anyone on the beach at the time and, naturally, to the families of the deceased.

Locals living near the same beach said that they "often saw sharks in the water and had been concerned about a possible attack." That’s good enough for me. "We've been waiting for this for a long time, we always thought someone was going to be taken here."

In Australia, over the past five years, there have been 10 fatal incidents. Shark attacks always make the headlines and according to the International Shark Attack File, there were 55 unprovoked attacks in 2003. Unprovoked? That gives the impression that the shark is to blame every time. If someone came into your home, uninvited, what would you do exactly?

I remember swimming in Florida some time ago, "Are there sharks in these waters?" I asked. Once the reply confirmed that there were, I was out of there like a Polaris missile leaving a submarine. If you willingly put yourself in harm’s way, then you only have yourself to blame if it all goes 'Billy Cotton'.

Researchers in South Africa and Australia have started working on an electrical shield which will protect swimmers from shark attacks. The shield emits an electric signal which sharks are not too keen on, thus keeping them away from beaches. Great idea. Saves on suntanned cowboys, outboard engines, pump-action shotguns and revenge on a creature which is only doing what it does - naturally.

Maybe it's my northern-European, shark-free-water attitude but, after all, they’ve been around a lot longer than we have.

Stu

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