January 04, 2005

Animals Gone Wild

Speaking of tsunami-surviving animals, kind of, is it just me or was there a spike in shark stories towards the end of 2004?

First there was the classic story of the pod of bottlenose dolphins that saved four people from a great white shark off the coast of New Zealand in late October. The only adult in the group of four, a lifeguard, sat on the story for several weeks before going to the media and offering this explanation for his change of heart:

"I didn't want anyone to get chomped [by the shark], so I couldn't be accused of not having made people aware there was a shark out there".

Good thing he waited a few weeks.

Then there were a few shark attacks that didn't go so well for the victims. The most recent that was a "big story," in mid-December, had another great white (or possibly two, according to witnesses) take the life of an 18-year old lifeguard off the coast of South Australia near Adelaide. The death sparked an outpouring of emotional responses, pitting those who wanted the shark (and others like it) hunted down and killed against those, including the victim's family, who felt no ill will against the shark:

"We acknowledge that the sea is, in fact, the shark's domain [...] "We don't, and I certainly personally don't, advocate the indiscriminate killing of any shark. They are to be admired, appreciated and respected, and Nick knew that."

Victim Nick Peterson's father, Philip Peterson, in the Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Dec. 18, 2004)

The South Australia government authorized the killing of dangerous sharks, although no one expected authorities to definitively track down the great white that killed Nick Peterson:

"The Government's view is that a large shark in close proximity to the beaches that is posing a direct threat to human life should be destroyed."

Acting South Australia Premier Kevin Foley in the Herald Sun (Melbourne, Dec. 18, 2004)

To feed my likely-unfounded suspicions, the Ottawa Citizen's year-end "weird in the transportation world" review included this totally mad story from much earlier in the year (thanks to my parents for the tip!):

Australian welder Luke Tresoglavic, 22, is snorkelling off a beach near Sydney when a wobbegong shark, known as "the pit bull of the ocean," bites into his left leg. Shark attached, Mr. Tresoglavic swims 300 yards to shore. Sunbathers there can't loosen it, so he climbs into his car, wedges the shark against the gearshift and drives one-handed to a surf club a mile away. "He basically asked the question, 'Can you help me get it off?' " says lifeguard Michael Jones, who helped flush the shark's gills with fresh water to force it to let go. "There's nothing in our procedure manual for that type of thing."

Incredibly, as other articles relate, Mr. Tresoglavic then put the shark in his car and drove himself to the hospital.

The Ottawa Citizen ran the heading "Guy and a Shark Walk Into a Bar" ... but I wonder whether "Wobbegong Shark, Woebegone Welder" (a la Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?) might have worked too.

Posted by anatole at January 4, 2005 09:13 PM

How did I miss that story? So good. "Hey mate, pry this sharkie off my leg, I've got a barbie to go to. No worries, I'll just wedge it here on the gearshift."

Posted by: Lana at January 5, 2005 09:40 PM