Psychology

Sometimes it depends on whether the shark decides to eat you or not

Sometimes it depends on whether the shark decides to eat you or not

2015-07-21 14.21.15

It is at times a dog-eat-dog world. Of course, growing up I thought it was a doggie dog world. I thought, why yes dogs do rule! Then somewhere in my mid 20s I learned the world was apparently a bit mean pitting dogs against dogs.  Mind you I had seen cockfighting in the South Bronx. That, my friends, is a whole other story.  Way before Michael Vick ruined his NFL career with his dog fighting ways.

But back to dogs, wait, no, sharks I am here to talk about sharks.  I visited the Vancouver Aquarium last week so that I could get my son a penguin toy, including penguins socks. He is obsessed, obsessed, I say, with penguins.  He is so obsessed that the one word he readily says in Spanish is penguinos.  I was happy to go to the aquarium on my son’s behalf, especially since I was escaping a bit of a dreary conference where researchers couldn’t stop applauding themselves. I felt like I was attending a narcissists conference. I got to the Vancouver Aquarium on time so that I could attend the shark feeding. What a let down that was. There was a young man going on and on about how awesome sharks are and how we really should not fear them and that over 10 million sharks die a year at the hands of humans.  Meanwhile, sharks do not readily eat humans. That is all well and good but I was there to watch the sharks feed because I did not get enough of that at my conference. Nor did I get enough of that at Wall Street when I lived in NY. The show just featured a few pieces of tiny fish on a long white rod and the sharks just kind of sniffed around, turned their noses up and looked menacingly out at us in the audience.

Boy must it suck to be fish bait and to just be sniffed at and left to hang on a rod?  In the non-profit field in which I have worked for over ten years, there are also sharks in it. Sharks don’t just exist on Wall Street or Silicon Valley. And I mean the typical meaning of the human shark. Nasty, looking for a way ahead at all costs, yada yada yada.  There have been those times when I have acted as a bit of a shark although not in that typical, just-explained, manner.

There have been times when nutty colleagues and petulant others in the field have tried to dangle some bait in front of me hoping that I would go just as crazy and lose it. Sadly for them, I just sniffed at them and walked away. When faced with screaming colleagues, I have often just sat there and smiled and then calmly noted they were in the wrong and told then I would not tolerate their behavior and that they could leave my presence. Nothing bothers an agitator more than being treated like rotten fish bait.

As I watched the shark feeding that was not, I remembered the Australian surfer Mick Fanning that fought off a large shark at a South African competition. Everyone thought he was going to die but rode out the waves with his body and mind fully intact. According to news outlets he may have punched the shark. When he was hailed as an amazing shark fighter during one the many interviews that he gave (or was cornered into), he noted that it was not all his dong. He explained that sometimes it depends on whether the shark decides to eat you or not. That day the shark decided to not eat him.  Of course, sharks don’t eat humans. But, in the words of both Bobby Brown and Britney Spears, that is their prerogative.

6 replies »

  1. About 20 years ago my cousin died as a result of a shark attack by a Great White. He was an experienced fisherman but in his 20s and I’m not sure whether he took unnecessary risks. My Dad was also at a beach in Sydney as a child when a boy was bitten by a shark and I think died. He was spear fishing.
    That said, given the amount of time Australians spend in the ocean , there are very few attacks. That said, there have been a few lately.

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    • Oh wow. Thats horrible. So sorry to hear. There have been several shark incidents on our eastern coast this summer. Knowing that many americans were there, think that is why the aquarium staff wanted to emphasize sharks are not bad and that humans actually dont taste good to them. Nonetheless, i think we all have that fear.

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      • As you would know professionally, fear/phobias are quite weird and affect people differently. I’m not afraid of sharks but I have a phobia of false teeth and I’m not a confident driver. Snakes don’t worry me either. I think I’m heard people cry “wolf” too many times.

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  2. I understand the concept of an ecology. The predators kill the weak and slow to keep the gene pool strong or to prevent over population. In the ocean sometimes if the top-predator dies, the number two predator kills to extinction all the fish below it because it will not limit its own numbers and will not restrict its appetite. In this shark question an example was given that if we kill too many sharks, the sharks will not kill and keep under control fish that eat scallops and so the scallops will disappear. And similar explanations were give for why we should not kill wolves etc.
        However, these ecology nuts do in fact lie often. They might have a point about not exterminating a predator species. BUT predators do like to taste and kill humans. There was a campaign in the 1970’s to convince people that wolves always avoided humans. They were motivated by their desire to not encourage people to exterminate wolves to extinction. BUT THEY LIED AND THEY THOUGHT THAT THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS. PREDATORS DO LIKE TO EAT HUMANS. Same lies about bears. Bears have grabbed babies and carried them away by the neck in their mouth. Wolves have attacked babies, biting them on the mouth and nose and carrying them away by the neck.
        A case can be made for not exterminating predators in the wild. But lies on the data can not be justified. Rare? Maybe the data will show that, but maybe not. Lobbying groups are not trustworthy.

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