Saturday, September 12, 2009

Shark Tail Soup

Photo by SnaggleTooth 2009
NOTE: For those who like longer reads

Years ago in the '80's at a flea market book table, I purchased a paperback non-fiction, treasure-trove of info with copyright date 1961 (twelth printing 1975) titled "Shark!" by Thomas Helm. It was a fifty-cent purchase I was compelled to make. The original price printed on the cover is "$1.95." I've read the interesting facts about different species, n shark attacks, over again many times. Ever since childhood trips to the Boston Aquarium I've been interested in the dangerous creatures. Recently going thru boxes in the backroom, I discovered the old book again, n was lured back into the yellowed but pertinent pages.
Decades ago, when I was a teen-ager before I moved to this town on Cape Cod, a six-foot nurse shark was found dead on the beach of my friend's summer home where I was visiting (near my current home). Nurse sharks have small mouths, with barbels on the nose, n have a tail n fins resembling Dog-fish features. Unless bothered, they are considered harmless sharks. Boy, did that thing reek like rotten fish- We had to hurry n bury it in the hill next to the stairs. That day I knew for certain, when I'd previously lept off the boat in the middle of Buzzard's Bay, (the water, not the Town by the same name), there were indeed sharks in that same water.
That was the Summer of '75, when the famous movie "Jaws" was in the theaters. My group of seven friends scared ourselves silly of getting in the water after watching it, then finding the beached shark-body the following week-end jaunt down to the Cape-house. Water-skiing activity was curtailed, n the 14-foot Boston Whaler broke-down anyways. (I hadn't yet learned how to repair outboards). Even tho the "Jaws" movie was based on the five, New Jersey White Shark attacks reported from July 2 to July 15, 1916, (detailed in my "Shark" book), all the way up the northeast coastline, folks got paranoid, even without any shark sightings.
I remember that TV news had reported bull-shark sightings several times off Old Silver Beach in Falmouth during the 80's n '90's. A week after a family ride on the ferry to the Vineyard n back (as reported in 2005 on ESR), a 25-foot tiger shark with a 5-foot-wide mouth was caught somewhere in the islands area (south of the Cape) for the annual shark-hunting contest. That's comforting... The fishermen were a few minutes late for the contest deadline, n lost! I love that pic tho- an incredible creature it was-
The last documented fatal Shark attack reported in my state, (as I again refer to info in my wonderful "Shark!" book, by Thomas Helm), took place July 25, 1936, in Mattapoisett Harbor, which is part of the water of Buzzard's Bay, to the SouthWest of the Cape Penninsula, just a couple towns away from mine down Route 6 on the way to New Bedford, the famous old shipping n Whaling port.
A sixteen-year-old teen, Joseph Troy Jr, was swimming about one-hundred, fifty yards from the shore with a buddy close by, when he was attacked on the left leg n dragged under. He managed to be released n brought by his friend onto a boat, but died a few hours later at Saint Lukes Hospital. My book reports in the "Appendex I Shark Attacks in the US" log he thought it was a White Shark. I've read other sources of the attack, however, such as my local weekly paper, that reported it had been a Mako shark attack. Troy gave an account before his death, as well as his buddy, n the boat owner, all described what they saw. Mako's are identified by their shovel-shaped, almost flattened, pointy snout. They are open-ocean swimmers. Also, they are thought to be the fastest shark.
It would be unusual for White Sharks to be around Buzzards Bay, n the Cape, due to their usual tropical territory preference. The past several weeks however, you may've heard that many White sharks have been sighted attacking seals, off the Eastern Shore of Monomoy Island in Chatham, which is the out-most elbow part of the Cape's penninsula arm. The story's been followed by National News media. No human attack reports were made, but they closed alot of Lower Cape Beaches to swimming for Labor Day Week-end. Some of the Whites were temporarily tagged to be tracked until January.
There was a report last week of a diver getting pulled up off his dive due to sharks being too close. Diving for rescue/recovery, exploration, shipwrecks, salvage, n instruction is big business around here. These sightings have put a damper on the post-labor Day activities n the economy locally. (Including my job's work-order volume).
Earlier I stated on ESR in my Hurricane post that it's not an unusual ocean phenomenon for critters to follow the pre-storm fleeing of the food supply species. I attribute White shark species being here to that, as well as the high water temps we tend to get at the end of the summer, being on the gulf-stream current which feeds in from tropical locations. I'd been expecting to hear of Jelly-fish, Portugeuese Man-O-War, n sea turtles tho... Last year a manatee was in the town Dennis on the Cape, which didn't live for the ride home. Tonight there's a report of another one, near the same area again. That's odd, too. Have I mentioned too many times already, I did study Ocean Science in College...?
Usually I buy cheap, used DVDs, but last winter I caved in to buy a spiffy, new DVD, Discovery "Shark Week, Ocean of Fear" containing more info to glean about fishy predators. Stories about the WWII ship-sunk soldiers getting picked off by sharks in their flimsy life-rafts was so depressing! But other sections described speed muscle anatomy, shark-skin surface properties, n species characteristics with electromagnetic current detection in detail which was fun. That's also where I learned more about the Mako species mentioned above.
On the Discovery DVD I also Learned that in one month a tagged White shark traveled 2500 miles, from the island of Guadeloupe to Hawaii in the Pacific. To me that means White sharks here right now, in one month's time, could possibly be off the coast of South America, or follow the main Atlantic currents to the Europe side of the ocean. Currents are indeed, the fast-lanes of the sea. It also could mean shifts in the earth's magnetic fields could be throwing their navigation to different areas than normal.
Between old sources, n new information, better understanding n less fear, there will be more answers to explain sea-animal movement n relocation. Meanwhile, we need to learn to expect the unexpected, for our natural world is definately changing.
That's my theory, n I'm sticking to it...


At 11:08 PM, Blogger TALON said...

I thought I was going to get a new recipe from your title, Snaggle ;)

I would think it would be one of the reasonable explanations that sharks have suffered at the hands of climate change for sure.

Who could forget what Jaws did our psyches...for a whole summer I didn't even want to swim in a swimming pool!!

Enjoyed your post.

At 2:26 AM, Blogger Snaggle Tooth said...

Talon, Actually, Japan's liking for SharkTail Soup may be leading to near extinction by over-fishing of a few Pacific shark Species. I'd be more afraid of the effects of Chlorine n chemicals in the pool, myself... Thanks for reading.

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Jannie Funster said...

I will be back to this one! Have to head out soon, drying my hair now.

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Mad Mom said...

I'm impressed with the knowledge gleaned in this article. Most expecially the parts of you before I came along! Thank you for the information mama!

At 2:29 AM, Blogger Snaggle Tooth said...

JanF, I hope your bangs come out perfectly- Ya, this is a long tale-

BBM, Yes, I was once a fearless, fifty-feet of water, swimmer. Dived off a sloop in Pocasset Harbor in the mid '80's, too. (George was look-out spotter)
I love tying odd sources if info together to make new sense.

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Jannie Funster said...

I felt depressed about the manatee. They are such sweet creatures. You know they eat like, 100 lbs of sea lettuce a day? (I think.)

At 3:07 AM, Blogger Snaggle Tooth said...

JanF, I'm depressed hearing there's another, also with little hope of returning south for warmth fast enough. The temps here have turned cooler already-
If ya wanna clear out the kelp, Mantee power is the answer!

At 9:48 AM, Blogger David Edward said...

i recall watching Jaws in the drive in, from the seat of my Volkswagen Beetle and being scared to death.

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Snaggle Tooth said...

David, we were near the front center of the theatre screen. When the head suddenly rolled out the underwater hull hole, my friend Beeb threw her popcorn all over everyone by accident!
But yes, that WAS based on attacks in New Jersey-
Punch buggy red?

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Snaggle Tooth said...

Last week (Aug 2016) I watched the Discovery Channel 25th year anniversary dvd from the Library, which contained a re-enactment of the New Jersey White Shark attacks- a must see for shark enthusiasts!


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