“Shark Attack, Shark Attack, get out of the water and don’t look back,” sang Surf Punks lead singer Dennis Dragon in the chorus of 1982’s “Shark Attack,” from the album “Local’s Only.” The South Bay’s been in similar hysteria as the “men in grey suits” patrol the line-ups.
“There’s been quite a few sightings at El Porto and Manhattan,” said local surf star Mike Siordia, “Growing up, I remember seeing them while surfing at and caught off the Hermosa Beach Pier. It’s like we’re the great whites’ popular Happy Hour, and we’re not talking about the hair metal band.”
Through out the summer, lifeguards have been calling and pulling swimmers, surfers, and SUPs from the breaks sometimes resorting to helicopters and lifeguard boats to warn beach enthusiasts further down the way.
“They’ve always been here,” Siordia said. “It’s nothing new.”
Sharks make headlines and the general public feeds into the misconceptions surrounding the ocean predator. But, there’s no need to really get into this, as reporter Rachel Reeves already discussed this issue in July 18th’s Easy Reader article, “Great White Hype: The truth about white sharks and what their local presence means.” As the article noted, the odds of a surfer, paddler or swimmer getting killed by a white shark are 1 in 11 million, versus any American’s 1 in 84 chance of dying in a car accident.
Recently, the great white issue came back to feed media appetites when Mike Durand of Swellmagnet.com hit the jackpot. Normally, Swellmagnet.com is simply an informative website for surfers with surf forecasting and reports, live streaming surf cams, fish reports, and surf news. An October 16th clip landed his SEO scores into celebrity sex scandal status. Durand, using his Go-Pro, captured a juvenile great white nonchalantly swimming to the bow of his SUP and underneath his personal watercraft evoking two words, “Oh Shit.”
“The story was picked up all over the web, on [television channels] 2,4,5,7,9,11, CNN and the Today Show, “Durand said, “With 230,000 hits on YouTube.”
While statistically you have more of a chance being devoured alive by the shark and sharkettes patrolling the late night bar scenes of adjacent beaches, the footage is still chilling.
“It’s all fun until someone loses an eye, (or leg),” Durand says in his YouTube link description.
Durand, in an interview, said he’s actually stoked he had the chance to see the shark up close.
“I feel so lucky to have had such a unique and exciting experience with a great white shark,” he said. “I hope all species of sharks are protected and respected worldwide for years to come.”
Until that next clip becomes popular web fodder, does our shark infested water perpetuate a stereotype fed by the imagination?
“Sharks are going nowhere,” said Siordia, “You can get eaten, but that’s the odds we play.”
Go to swellmagnet.com to see Durand’s video.