No, We’re NOT Mistaken for Seals

Another Australian surfer has gone down to Davy Jones’s locker in the grip of serrated Great White Shark teeth and a swirling cloud of gore. This unfortunate gentleman, Simon Baccanello, a popular local teacher and sports coach (as re-reported by Beach Grit) was just offshore in a lineup of perhaps a dozen other nearby surfers when a large Great White Shark singled him out for lunch and torpedoed him right off his board and into the Fatal Shark Attack History Books.

The guy apparently warned his fellow surfers (one as young as thirteen) and urged them to high-tail it to safety on shore even as the shark approached to commence the feeding. People on shore were even able to see the shark approaching Baccanello and began sounding alarms, so this tells me that the Great White in question was an exceptionally large specimen. As more information becomes available from shocked eyewitnesses and study of the remains of Baccanello’s surfboard (bitten through the middle) don’t be surprised to hear numbers like 17 or 18 thrown out in regard to the attacker’s length. This was undoubtedly a Big Mama. Witnesses report that it took the beast only three forays to finish poor Simon off: not a sign of his body was found, save for shreds of wetsuit that washed up on the beach.

Again, BIG shark.

The pattern of attack, accompanied by thrashing and three lunges at the victim, shares some similarities with the infamous attack on Brit swimmer, Simon Nellist, in Aussie waters last year. That incident, filmed in every gruesome detail, ended with the big, aggressive great white biting off Nellist’s head, both arms, and both legs until his mere torso was left floating in the chop, seagulls swooping in for bits of flesh and tiny threads of what little blood remained in the corpse pulsing weakly out of his ravaged backside into the cerulean blue of the cruel, cruel sea.

Then the shark came back and grabbed the rest of the torso. Nellist’s remains were never found, either.

To those researchers who keep insisting, as if chanting mantras or incantations, that these Great White Sharks are somehow too blind or stupid to distinguish their usual prey (swift-moving seals!) from humans loitering awkwardly in the water on boards and only nab people “mistakenly” … shove it up your asses. This species is a billion years old and its discernment and pursuit of prey has been honed and refined by eons of evolution and practice.

They can tell a damned human from a seal.

The same dubious eyes might be rolled at researchers and their insistence that these big sharks only “test bite” their mistaken-for-seals human prey and then move on, suddenly realizing, “Hey! This isn’t my usual breakfast.”

Twaddle! There have been far too many accounts of people being consumed whole—sometimes swallowed whole!—by large Great White Sharks. This certainly appears to be the case with recent victims Baccanello and Nellist. So “up your jacksies” with the whole “test bite” theories, too, Ye marine biologists who tell people not to fear large sharks. “Humans don’t possess enough fat to interest great whites!” they also squeal. Morons—a great white shark will take a friggin’ pelican bobbing in the water, if they’re hungry. Don’t talk to me about “fat content.”

The logic used to undergird this kind of casuistry borders on the ludicrous, e.g. large sharks are unable to tell the difference between humans and seals at close quarters, but they are equipped to distinguish the specific fat content suitable for their dietary needs when it comes to potential prey items floating about the briny and make judicious assessments about grocery shopping thereupon? My ass!

Fear is a wise quality to possess when entering the wild, and the ocean is the Wild, my friends. Fear doesn’t have to mean cringing, crippling anxiety. It need only denote healthy respect, awareness, and an abundance of awe-inspired caution.

If you’re in the water and a large, hungry Great White Shark is in the same water, it will note immediately that you don’t have flippers and won’t be evading its jaws with acrobatic maneuvers. It will gladly feast on you.

Oh, and I’d think twice before entering Australian ocean waters if your name happens to be Simon.

RIP to the surfer and may his loved ones find comfort where it may be found.


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