Thursday, July 17, 2014

big sharks in our backyard

Last week we took a much needed family vacation to Cape Cod. Among the many day trips was a drive out to Chatham to walk the national seashore area adjacent to Chatham Light. In the distance - seals, and lots of them. No better chomping ground for big sharks that a colony of seals congregated along a skinny shoal.

 
Unfortunately for we humans, the shark population along Cape Cod beaches has been seemingly on the rise over the last handful of years - or at least they are now going noticed. I've always thought that our knowledge of these populations is a function of time spent out there looking to some extent, which may well likely be the case here in New England. With typically dark water, it can be hard to spot animals without either more eyes out on the water, or efforts placed on aerial imaging - both of which now have more efforts placed since just a few sharks were spotted several years ago.
 
What I found most interest about the Chatham visit was the 'caution' sign at the start of the steps down to the beach. It's like something out of a California surf movie, but now very much a reality in New England. Pretty amazing.
 
Despite the warning, beachcombers march out to the water's edge, my kids included, and look out over the water with an eagerness to just jump right in - a new frontier literally just one step away. Having spent a lot of time on the other side, I can say for certain that the survival instincts to cut it 'out there' are an entirely new body of knowledge for the masses, and something that at least as of today we don't get in school. Perhaps someday.
 
Imagine that an apex predator's home is just feet away from our backyard - it's not unlike living next to a lion's den. Yet, in practice it is a million miles away in terms of our ability to interpret that space, understand our functional role in that environment, and contemplate what life could be like if we took real steps away from our shores.
 
'We' have such a long way to go.

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