Monday, June 27, 2005

Another Florida Swimmer Becomes Fish Food

What do I have to do to persuade people to stop swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, two of Florida's biggest sources of water tragedies? (I don't feel personally responsible for the Pacific or Indian Oceans. I believe other busybodies have been assigned to worry about those.) There is no question that large bodies of water are beautiful. I love looking at them! And boating upon them. And walking along their shores, admiring the pounding surf. But must we actually wade in and advertise ourselves as Fish Food? Especially when Florida has no shortage of nice clean swimming pools to swim in? The most recent case was the 14-year-old who was "boogie boarding" at a Panhandle Beach. (Boogie Boarding is like "snowboarding" only wetter.) The teen was attacked by an approximately 6-8 foot long shark, who persisted in following her bleeding body 100 yards to the shore as another surfer tried to rescue her. (And he was more than a little concerned for his own limbs as he attempted this heroic maneuver.) I realize you can't "catch a wave" in a pool, but neither will you be bitten by a shark. A local Lakeland woman had her arm gnawed on about a month ago as she was wading near Clearwater Beach. I guess that shark only wanted an appetizer! Sharks aren't the only reason to avoid the ocean or gulf as your footbath. There's also jellyfish! Stingrays! Hurricane debris! Fish poop! Residue from the Exxon Valdez spill! Pollution from cruise lines! I could go on, but I think I'm developing a fungus. I was on a relaxing tour boat in the gulf a few weeks ago. (Note: There was a whole boat between me and the water.) The tour guide mentioned that you have a greater chance of dying from being hit by a falling coconut than from a shark attack. Well pardon me! I think I'd rather go mano a mano with the coconut! At least I could wear a bike helmet if I was really having anxiety about it. A bike helmet would do you absolutely no good in the midst of a shark attack, other than causing the shark indigestion. Of course all the spokespersons are chiming in about how rare shark attacks are, and "this isn't a trend," and the fatality rate is ONLY 2.4 percent if you do get attacked by the shark. Well I'm sure the 14-year-old's family is relieved to know their daughter is not Part of a Trend. And I don't care about the fatality rate -- I STILL don't want stitches anywhere on my body due to non-fatal shark attacks. So I think Florida's oceans and gulfs are there to be enjoyed. From a distance. ** Update** Today's news tells us a teenage boy was bitten and critically wounded in yet another shark attack near the Florida panhandle beaches. This kid was also "boogie boarding" or in shark parlance, "The Human Au Jus Jitterbug." Well my blog is here as a public service. Anyone who values their limbs and other important body parts would do well to stop by and heed my free safety advice. UPDATE of the UPDATE: Most recent reports now say an Austrian tourist was wading in chest-deep water near Ft. Meyers, Florida, and sustained a shark bite on the ankle. It was not life-threatening...doctors think the tendon and ligament damage can be repaired. Buddy, you're lucky the shark didn't bite you in the chest and cause Nipple Damage! Perhaps he can be forgiven since English probably isn't his native tongue. Still, you have to be a bit dazed to miss the daily reports on these attacks, along with the file footage of what Shark Feeding Frenzies look like. (basically like toddlers tearing into a birthday cake at a party. The cakes never survive the attacks, I assure you.) So forget the warnings! If you WANT to be fish food, go ahead, wade right in! Just be sure to sprinkle a little tenderizing sunscreen on yourself before entering the water so the shark doesn't have to floss when he's done with you. This warning has been brought to you by SHarks for the Unpopular Treatment of Us People. (SHUT UP)

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