When Patrick Briney set off in a kayak on Monday to haul fish from their natural habitats in waters off Maui, he had to know there was a chance — however infinitesimal — that he’d die as a result of an encounter with a shark. And that’s just what happened, according to Hawaii News Now and other media outlets.
As is typically the case, much of the talk in the aftermath of that incident has focused on statistics, although the alarmists among us seem to have missed class the day their teachers talked about reason. The fact of matter is that fatal shark attacks are extraordinarily rare occurrences that ought to be accepted as such. The punitive responses that are so often called for in the wakes of shark attacks are ugly reflections of the drooling class’ callous arrogance.
The International Shark Attack File’s 2012 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary tells us that “seven fatalities resulted from unprovoked attacks in 2012.” And yet for the detestably anthropocentric set, even one fatal shark attack would be too many — because it would remind us once again that we’re not in total control.
Each and every time a human dies during an encounter with a shark, there are those who want the offending beast hunted down and killed in a vengeful execution billed as a public-safety measure. Obviously, to prevent future shark-on-human attacks, one species would have to be exterminated (I’d vote to exterminate ours) — and, unconscionably, we’re doing a damn good job of emptying the world’s oceans of sharks.
Indeed, the offending beast here, as far as I’m concerned, is Homo sapiens. It’s been estimated that humans slaughter 100 million sharks each year. And those callous greed-heads, along with the vengeful thugs who reach for their harpoon guns whenever a human’s encounter with a shark goes wrong for the former — are the kind of arrogant psychopaths this world would be better off without.
Man’s desire to be in control in this context is repulsive — whether it’s a tourism official freaking out that his bottom line might turn red or a politician bending over to fix the “problem.”
The problem, of course, is us. While sharks behave like sharks — daring once and a while to swim out of our nightmares and into our recreation areas — we behave like monsters.
If more humans would relieve themselves of the burden of needing to feel like they’re in control, we might collectively be able to objectively regard fatal shark attacks as the extraordinarily rare occurrences that they are — and to do absolutely nothing about them.