The problem with planning your vacations far in advance (well, the problem with XFE and I planning our vacations far in advance) is that it gives one of us plenty of time to hyperventilate over any news story coming out of that vacation location.
For example: My wanna-be-Crocodile-Dundee-boyfriend XFE and I are going to Australia in March for my 40th birthday. One of our “fun” activities is going to be scuba diving, which I’ve never done before. But being an extremely risk-adverse drama queen/mild hypochondriac, I’m convinced that this “fun”-tivity will not end well.
In fact, if it’s anything at all like our attempts at skiing over the years, it will end with one of us lodged in a snow bank (or perhaps in some coral, to make this analogy work in a diving context), producing copious amounts of snot-crying and shouting profanity at her loved one, who just happens to be a much better skier (and, probably, because that’s always the way things go, a much better diver). We don’t ski much anymore. And by much, I mean at all.
Widely reported stories like this do not help. According to the Washington Post:
Shark hunters set baited hooks off Australia’s southwest coast on Sunday hoping to catch a great white that killed an American recreational diver in the area’s third recent fatal attack.
Let that sink in for a minute. THIRD recent fatal attack. Not a one-off. Not some weinie messing with the shark getting what he deserved. We’re talking Sharks Gone Wild off the Australian coast, and I’m just a big piece of floating chum in a fetching floral bathing suit.
“Scientists have warned against an overreaction to the third fatal shark attack off Australia’s southwest coast in less than two months. Australia averages a little more than one fatal shark attack a year.”
Oh, really? You don’t want people to overreact. Well, well. Let me stop OVERREACTING THEN. When the average number of shark attacks goes up by 300% (wait…math…dammit, is that right? Somebody check my work) in a mere two months, I think it might be time to overreact just a tiny bit.
“Barbara Weuringer, a University of Western Australia marine zoologist and shark researcher, urged against a shark hunt, saying there was no way of telling which shark was the killer without killing it and opening its stomach.
“It sounds a little bit like taking revenge, and we’re talking about an endangered species,” Weuringer said.”
Listen, Babs: It’s a LOT like revenge. And I for one am Down. With. It. Let’s cut the damn sharks open. Where I come from, you shoot first and ask questions later. If poor, innocent, non-killing sharks don’t want to find themselves filleted on a beach, they better find a less incriminating place to hang out. And stay away from the humans. Consider yourself warned, Australian shark population.
“Barry Bruce, a marine biologist and great white expert, said it was unlikely that the same shark was responsible for all three fatalities.
“A more plausible explanation is that this is the time of year when sharks move along the coast, and there are undoubtedly multiple sharks out there following this exact pattern,” Bruce said.
Wow, Barry. That is incredibly reassuring. So I don’t have to just watch out for one rampaging, blood-thirsty shark, but three? Awesome.
“But a southwest coast-based diving tourism operator has called on the Western Australia state government to kill sharks that pose a threat to humans.
‘The nuisance sharks, the problem sharks that move into an area and are aggressive, should be dispatched to remove the risk of future attack,’ Rockingham Wild Encounters director Terry Howson told the AP.
Howson has been campaigning for government action on sharks since one of his tour guides, Elyse Frankcom, was injured in a shark attack last year.
“It’s absolutely hurting the tourist trade,” he said. “Australia is getting a name for itself as being full of dangerous animals.”
Damn straight, Terry! Also: Not going to sign up for a tour with you since you don’t seem to have a way to protect folks from getting attacked by sharks. I’m sorry, I know it’s not fair. It’s not you, it’s…..actually, yes, yes it is you. And you’re little shark friends.
I will admit, however, that these shark attacks have been taking place off the far western coast of Australia, which we’re not going to. Nevertheless, sharks can swim and they’ve got plenty of time to get all the way to the east coast by the time I arrive in March.
Actually, maybe I shouldn’t be encouraging the government to hunt those sharks. Those fleeing sharks might decide to go someplace else where people aren’t (yet) threatening to gut them. Like the eastern coast of Australia. Shoot! This is how my best-laid plans always backfire. I’m definitely going to make sure I bring my homemade shiv to the beach in Australia.
Just think: there’s only 4.5 months more for me to stress and kvetch about my upcoming dream-vacation-of-a-lifetime.
Also: There was a damn 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Turkey. Which is where we’re going in January. Awesome.