The eighth month of the calendar year brings forth the quintessential American television phenomenon, Shark Week. Every evening the Discovery Channel treats its viewers to vivid footages of sharks doing what they do best – thrive. They are the direct descendants of predators who fed during the time of dinosaurs 60 million years ago. Sharks spend their lifetime swimming, breeding, hunting, and eating.
The star of a typical episode of the series is a lean, mean eating machine. The thirty-something year old great white female debuting the other evening was about 14 feet long and weighed a couple of tons. The film was shot a year ago, but last weekend she was cited back in her summer playground, about 15 feet off Chatham Beach, Cape Cod. Chatham boasts an abundance of overweight beach goers and plump seals. It’s a favorite feeding ground for carcharodon carcharias – great white sharks.
Humans are winning the predator versus prey game with sharks. About a hundred million sharks are caught a year compared to less than ten shark attacks on humans. Fortunately for sharks, Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams gave us a killer sound track that put the fear of being eaten should just a single toe set foot in salt water. This relieved sharks of the temptation to nosh on people who feared sharks and stayed clear of the water while at the same time deciding to protect a declining population of seals. This is how Chatham became the preferred dining spot for great whites.
Looking at photos of the beach goers splayed on sandy towels and the whiskered, doe eyed seals basking in the shoals – it’s pretty obvious that sharks thrive because they are discriminate eaters. The beach crowd is filled with artificial preservatives, cholesterol, toxins, and who knows what kind of germs. The seals eat the catch of the day – fish and mollusks. It’s a healthy diet. People aren’t such a healthy menu choice.
Depending how you look at it – eating fresh and free wins. Sharks and seals thrive. Lots of people are afraid to go into the water. After a day of excessive sun exposure people pack up their towels and become scavengers. Unlike sharks, people prefer to eat dead stuff. If we are what we eat – including seafood – it’s no wonder that many people feel drawn to the water. Whether fried, grilled, steamed or blackened a little bit of the sea is digested which becomes part of our blood. Just remember, if you eat too much of anything, you’re going to need a bigger boat. So, contrary to the tag line of a Jaws movie, “don’t go into the water”, go ahead – jump right in -splash, swim and enjoy the waves. No worries, mates – sharks prefer to eat fresh and healthy rather than baked and fried. Bon Appetite!