Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 4:16 pm | A Few Clouds 72º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: The Shark You See ... Is Probably Least Likely to Attack

I breathe a sigh of relief when I see a shark. It’s because if I’m seeing it, that shark has already decided against taking a bite out of me. Instead, it is just swimming about for the sake of curiosity or still engaged in its search for supper. If it planned on dining on me, the attack would be sudden and stealthy.

People swimming or fishing from a kayak, float tube, paddle board or even personal watercraft worry about sharks — and for good reason.

There have been multiple recent and local incidences of sharks bumping kayaks and swimming by paddle boarders.

Are there more sharks lately? It’s possible, but I don’t have enough good evidence to convince me of an increase or decrease in the local shark population. They are probably here because of the amount of good food in our waters.

Mostly folks are worried about great white sharks, though it isn’t the only big shark cruising our local waters. Just a couple of weeks ago, a mako, weighing well more than 500 pounds, was hooked just off the Santa Barbara harbor. Makos are capable of attack on people, but it is rare because this is a long, slender and very fast shark, ideally suited for chasing other prey.

People are notoriously slow in the water and easy to catch. That is why great white sharks are so well designed. When you see a 12-foot white, the girth on that thing is probably 6 to 8 feet. It has a very big belly to fill. In sportfishing circles, we call the great white shark “The Landlord,” and we know that it swims about collecting rent from the community.

People who take to sea in tiny craft know the risks and choose to pursue their sport anyway. Yes, the Landlord may come collect rent, and it will probably be a surprise and very quick attack. But the chances are miniscule. The sight of a large shark cruising nearby is exhilarating because it strikes a primal chord in us. We inherently know our relative place in the food chain, all things being equal. Bigger boats are safer, no doubt.

We tell our passengers aboard our charter boat, WaveWalker, “You’re at the very top of the food chain ... as long as you stay on the boat!”

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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