Great white shark becomes one giant fishing tale

News flash: There’s a 16-foot great white shark swimming just off our coast.

And this also just in from our masters of the obvious department, there are birds in the sky.

Everyone is in a tizzy over the 3,500-pound beast named Mary Lee who apparently has decided to take a winter vacation in Myrtle Beach. Most females her size prefer to come in the summer in small bikinis, but that’s another column about another species.

Besides, this GWF (that’s Great White Female) is special. Tagged during her summer soiree in Cape Cod for the all-you-can-eat sea lion buffet, researchers have tracked Mary Lee’s movements down the East Coast to Jacksonville, FL, then slowly back up the Georgia and Carolina coastline.

Maybe she took a wrong turn at Cumberland Island while she was looking for the Gay Dolphin (they have great deals on shark’s teeth). Or maybe she’s preparing for a role in “Jaws V – Jaws Momma.” But researches believe she is either looking to feed or to breed (aren’t we all?).

This story does have a Jaws-like quality. Watching those little blips on the screen is a lot like the crew of the Orca watching those yellow barrels bob to the surface. It’s weird knowing that somewhere out there is a monster the size of a mini-bus swimming around searching for a snack (or even scarier, a mate).

But the whole story has been blown out of proportion by people who think the only good shark is a dead shark. What we’re learning about Mary Lee and other great whites through the magic of modern technology only confirms what we have suspected all along – there are great whites in our waters. If she’s here, surely there are many other untagged creatures her size or bigger.

But they’re not out hunting for surfers, although they are most likely to cross paths with the beasts. That’s the one thing that separates surfing from every other sport on the planet – there’s an outside chance you could be eaten. Maybe they should try it in other sports: “Back goes Jones, back, back, back to the wall … and he’s into the gator pit!” Baseball could use the ratings.

But I digress. The bottom line is OF COURSE THERE ARE GIANT SHARKS OFF OUR SHORE. Sharks are billions of years old and have been feeding and breeding off the Carolina coast long before we decided to build a resort town on the beach. And if we keep melting the planet they’ll be a lot closer to us than we would like.

I’ve heard some of the dumbest comments since this story “broke,” some of them from the media. One of them was a woman wondering why they didn’t kill Mary Lee instead of tagging it when they had the chance. “What if it ends up eating somebody,” she asked. “I hope it’s you,” I wanted to say but didn’t.

Look at a map (like the one Miss Junior South Carolina so elequently spoke about a few years back) and you’ll see the oceans are plenty big enough for both of us, especially since they prefer colder water that we wouldn’t dip our big toe in. The odds of you ever encountering one are greater than the Powerball tickets you wasted your money on last night.

Amazed by the technology that allows us to track a 16-footer? Absolutely. But surprised that OUR ocean is the same one where they swim, eat, breed and give birth? Puh-lease.

Like all migratory predators, they follow the food. No matter what you’ve seen on the movies or the news, you are not on the menu. We don’t need a bigger boat; just a better understanding of our universe, and how we’re not at the center of it.

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2 responses to “Great white shark becomes one giant fishing tale”

  1. Nick Hempsey says:

    Hilarious article and full of truth. Well done Terry.

    As a techy myself, I love the tech they’re using to track the sharks. I spent an hour on that site just looking at where all the sharks are, and have been. I love that you can see how they migrate over time. Super cool stuff.

    Of course, there are a few errors on the map; My favorite is Sellendilloh who right now is currently like 15 miles inland in South Africa. Now walking sharks; that’s something to free. Almost as much as sharks with (frickin’) laser beams.

    Kudos.

  2. Nick Hempsey says:

    ugh… I need to hire a proofreader….

    “Now walking sharks, that’s something to fear.”

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