Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dear seals, please leave now


I should be happy. I got to play on the water today, and I was planing most of the time without having to use a huge sail. So what if I wore long sleeves, a hood, gloves, and a second layer for the first time this fall?

But I am greedy. Maybe I should blame iWindsurf for putting up wind meters everywhere. Here's what the Kalmus meter showed this afternoon:
Averages in the high teens, gusts up to 25 mph, lulls around and sometimes below 10. That's about what it felt like on the water - almost overpowered in some gusts, not enough power to plane at other times.

The forecast was for west winds. Every Cape Cod windsurfer knows that the place to go to in west winds is Harding's Beach in Chatham. Here's what the Chatham wind meter showed:
Stronger wind. More wind. I like that. The forecast predicted more wind for Chatham, so it's no surprise. And one more thing - Harding's Beach has great waves in west wind, instead of disorderly chop like Kalmus.

So why did we not go there? It's because of all those seals that are still around there. We saw a bunch of them swimming near shore a few miles up the road, in Wellfleet, just a few days ago. We don't really mind the seals, but they attract Great White Sharks. These big, seal-loving fish have not evolved in millions of year because they are such efficient killing machines. But that has kept their brains pretty small, and every now and then, they take a bite out of a human by mistake. It's an honest mistake - they don't really like to eat humans. Seals are a lot tastier, with all the blubber they put on for the winter. It's not even revenge - although shark revenge certainly would be justified, with millions of sharks killed by humans each year for every human killed by sharks. But sharks don't do internet, so they don't know about this.

Some humans who have some sympathy for sharks have started tagging them, so that we now can look on the internet where our favorite sharks are. Methinks that was a bad idea. The problem is that if we get a "ping" from a shark in our area, we know for sure that one of these meat eaters is in the water. But if we do not get pings, that does not mean the waters are free of sharks. A tagged shark may still be around, but not have been near the surface long enough for the GPS trackers to get a good signal; and for every tagged shark, there are probably a number of untagged ones around.

The last ping in the area was by Genie, a 2,300 lb female White Shark, on October 8. Unfortunately, that was also Genie's last ping - she may still be around, or she may be in North Carolina or Canada by now. Since we don't know, we can be afraid of her, and all her friends. Fear is irrational, and it does not matter that the chance of being run over by a truck or of being hit by lightning is much higher than the chance of being attacked by a shark. If there are a lot of seals around, we'll be afraid of sharks.

So, dear seals, please realize that it's getting cold around Cape Cod, and depart to warmer areas!

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