Wednesday, August 18, 2004

oooohhhh sharks.

By report, a 16 - 18 footer took a 50 year-old abalone diver for his head, off the coast of Cali (Mendocino). I have what would probably be seen as an unhealthy fascination with sharks. Especially the apex predators of the group (however, the Six/Seven Gills-Goblin-and Greenland sharks are all very fascinating niche predators) - the Pointer (White), Tiger, Bull, Mako, Thresher, Galapagos, Lemon, Blue, and Oceanic White Tip (Pelagics are hella tight, son!) in particular (and in that order).

This Mendocino incident could only have been the half-assed work of a curious (or confused) Pointer or Tiger. I don't believe any other shark in that region has the size necessary to decapitate a human.

Side note: the 16-18 foot size estimate comes from an "eye witness" account - this has not been expertly verified, the shark has yet to be identified, and witnesses usually have understandable difficulty in estimating the size of some underwater creature that was devouring their friend. So, for all we really know, this whole shark-attack-story is little more than a red-herring, and that Peterson fellow may have slit home-skillets throat and blamed it on a shark. But, I will plot forward with shark comments with the comforting knowledge that that dude is locked up while his P.T. Barnum-sponsored trial plays itself out like a Milli Vanilli record.

A Pointer could have done it, easy. Probability points to the Pointer. Their tendency to attack abalone fishermen is well documented. Abalone are a standard part of any healthy seal's diet, and seals are a standard part of any healthy Pointer's diet. So, any human standing between a healthy White and his healthy prey, may be in for some deep sea menacing. I would bet the guy was surfacing, knowing that the shark was in the area (curious Pointers typically pester abalone fishermen for a spell, before taking a chunk out of them. Which is why they have what are called "abalone cages", which fit like a big, reversed umpire mask-like backpack for diving fishermen to guard them from a sneaky nibble by a White from behind while the fisherman carves abalone from the sea floor) and the Pointer seized the moment to strike from below, after stalking the dude for a bit. The Pointer got his head, decided that whatever the hell kind of animal he was: was not very meaty (human skull rarely is), and turned its attention elsewhere.

Leaving the headless body for the current to dance with.

A Tiger would have returned, I believe. They have shown a tendency to do so with surfers in Hawaii (but only when the surfer stays in the water long enough). Normally, when attacking large enough prey, a shark will strike and then allow time for massive blood loss to bring the victim death. That way, there is no struggle (sharks don't have hands to hold something still while they eat it, so they really prefer it be either dead-limp. or a wholly willing meal), that way they don't lose as many teeth during the process. So, they will typically stick and move, then lurk in the vicinity, watching their victim pass, and protecting their well-earned meal from any opportunistic passers-by.

Plus, Tigers will eat anything (tires, license plates, jugs of bottled water, Louis Vitton luggage sets, etc...). So that whole body would have been gnawed on, at the very least, if not completely devoured.

Sleek and cruelly efficient creatures.


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