Friday, 12 February 2010

It just wouldn't be summer in Sydney without a shark attack, but this one's a furphy

I was a bit slow to follow up on this one, but a man was supposedly 'attacked' by a shark at Mona Vale beach yesterday.

On my way home from work I picked up a copy of the free paper mX (it's a Rupert Murdoch rag) which ran the headline:

Shark attack

A quote from the victim was highlighted: 'It tried to drag me out ... and I won'

The pic of the wound on the victim's lower leg (the calf muscle) mustn't have looked gruesome enough for the newspaper because it was run as an inset. It looked like a graze to me. And I could've sworn the victim was smiling for the camera.

The usual sensational pap followed - it was a great white. Or maybe a bronze whaler or a tiger shark. Or the dreaded bull shark. It nearly dragged the man to his death. It was 2 metres long. The victim sustained 'deep lacerations to his leg and at least one shark tooth [was] still in his leg'.

So on and so forth. Blah blah blah.

By this morning the story had lost much of its appeal. It turns out that all the hysteria was for nothing. The vicious maneater is a wobbegong!

Let me tell you about the poor old wobbegong. If the wobbegong (great name, I could say it all day) was a human being he would be an 80-year-old man with dentures, failing eyesight and a nagging wife. And his name would be Herb.

Wobbegongs are pretty harmless. They nip when provoked. This one, Herb, is about 1 metre long with a 10 centimetre wide mouth. Shark experts say Herb was probably acting in self-defense after the victim 'spooked' or trod on him.

Around this time last year there were two awful shark attacks in Sydney - a 2.7 metre bull shark almost killed a navy diver at Woolloomooloo in Sydney Harbour (he literally lost an arm and a leg) and a 2.5 metre great white almost tore off a surfer's hand at Bondi.

But right now I can only imagine some hack bobbing about in a tinny off Bondi - tossing buckets of burly into the ocean in the hope of ramping up the action.

And what of the victim? He was released from hospital at midday yesterday and negotiating with Channel 9 to tell his story for a large sum of money. I bet that deal's fallen through.

At least he gets to keep Herb's tooth.

PS: See you in the ocean at Bondeeeee on Sundeeeeee!


Anita Joy said...

Shayne, I just lurv that name too Wobbegong. It's so cool. An dI really love them, they are gorgeous creatures.

But I have to object to your reference to the name Herb. My handsome mr6 has Herbert for a middle name (after his Poppy, my step-FIL) ;)

Good luck with Sunday's swim.

Richard said...

Good blog entry.
It's ridiculous the amount of attention that these little incidents attract. We were laughing about it at the beach this morning.
You should paste your entry and start a thread on the oceanswims blog. There'll be be some amusing responses.
I have a fear of sharks. It's a valid fear, swimming as I do in Sydney harbour or the NSW coast. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I think it adds to the experience and excitement of ocean swimming, knowing there's always a slim chance of a shark encounter.

Shayne said...

Thanks Anita.

And I agree Richard. I don't fancey sharing my final moments with a great white (as it tears off my thigh). They are terrifying creatures. And we should fear them. And respect them.

However, the hype surrounding sharks is over-the-top. But that's what media seems to be about these days.