Just Because It’s New Zealand …

… doesn’t mean that Great White Sharks don’t patrol that island nation’s glorious blue waters. They do, though attacks in New Zealand are surprisingly much rarer than those that have occurred so frequently in Australia.

This unfortunate young lady was apparently caught in a riptide when a juvenile great white shark landed a fateful bite on her upper left thigh: the favored spot for great whites when making a first strike against any mammal in the water, native to the waves or otherwise. Evolution has taught these terrifyingly efficient predators to approach and hit from the left side of their prey, for a traumatic, big bite upon the left “haunch” of a seal, sea lion, dolphin, or luckless human has the greatest chance of not only immobilizing the potential meal but severing crucial arteries, causing victims to bleed out quickly. In the case of human prey, the femoral artery is most often compromised after a successful bite and death occurs within mere minutes, barring extraordinary efforts of medical intervention.

Creepy, distressful stuff, this penchant of the ocean’s most formidable “lone hunter.” In the case of this young Kiwi lady, the shark seems to have been relatively small—perhaps only 10ft long, which is practically a sardine compared to the behemoth 20+ ft.-long white sharks cruising like submarines in the silence of the shallows for opportunities. But even juvenile white sharks are armed with lethal bite-force and rows of razor-sharp teeth. If they manage to score a perfectly placed bite in their favorite part of a hapless swimmer, don’t expect favorable outcomes.

This young woman and her gallant, would-be rescuers learned the hard way. Rest in peace, Kaehla, and may every possible comfort find its way to your stricken family and friends.

Also, forget the over-baked, misleading trope echoed ad nauseum by certain scientists that Great White Sharks always bite human beings mistakenly, assuming that they are seals. While shark conservation must continue in order to keep our oceans healthy, these intelligent creatures of prehistoric origin know exactly what they’re doing beneath the swell and the foam. A bite to the lower left side of any mammalian body indicates an attempt to score a meal, and great white sharks—possessed of fairly keen eyesight—can distinguish one form of prey from another quite clearly.

Learn to love the swimming pool or risk it, biscuit. We aren’t at our most agile in water. Not even in the bathtub.


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2 Comments on “Just Because It’s New Zealand …

  1. Well,hey.I know Inam not going to read your writing without:1.Learning something pretty cool 2.Having my mouth fall open.
    So it’s the left side? Who would have ever known.Well,you.
    Thanks so much.

    • Isn’t it amazing that millions of years of evolution have imparted this instinct to these animals? They don’t even have to think about it. Humans could only dream of being so efficient.

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