The Week in Sharks: And On the Seventh Day, Sharks Ate People, and It Was Good
by A Real Person on May 28, 2010
Monday, Tuesday? Happy days. Thursday, Friday? Happy days. Saturday, Sunday? You’re missing a leg (but otherwise happy days).
More shark attacks occur on Sunday than any other day, according to a case study by the University of Florida based on 231 shark attack reports from Volusia County, Florida. Volusia County has been dubbed the “Shark Attack Capital of the World,” which would seem a dubious honor, but then you think of, say, Gilroy, California, which is the “Garlic Capital of the World,” and you realize we all have our crosses to bear. (And for those wondering what the just-plain Capital of the World is, you’re not alone. But you are kind of an idiot) That 231-in-one-county figure seems awfully high until you take into account the fact that the incidents occurred over 50 years, from 1956 and 2008; that’s about four per year. This makes it still within the realm of possibility, of course, that you may get bitten the very next time you splash around in scenic Volusia, and it’s also totally within the realm of possibility that you’ll be on the next Real World, so keep makin’ those tapes!
Indeed, even if you are one of the lucky, “the consequences are usually no more severe than a dog bite,” according to George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File. That’s the consequences of the shark bite. The consequences of The Real World are too medically intricate to detail in this space.
Other factors associated with shark attacks include shallow water, low visibility, it not being winter, and you being a white dude. However, since more people tend to be swimming around Daytona Beach where it’s shallower, when it’s warmer, on the weekend, and while they’re busy being be-penised and pasty, this—tied in with the visibility issue—just means that sharks get freaked out and confused by too many wet bros. And really, don’t we all?
A few miscellaneous but interesting details: high-contrast (black/white and black/yellow) wet suits attracted sharks, as did the phases of the moon—specifically when it’s full or new (to the lady-associate of mine who suggested that sharks love menstruating women [and really, don't we all?]: make of this what you will). But really, the takeaway is simply that the more people are around sharks, the more people will get bitten. But not, SEO-slut scare headlines notwithstanding, eaten; as far as sharks are concerned, monkeys taste like crap, or at best, crap flavored with 2000 calories of milkshake.
So if sharks won’t kill you, will they at least help you live forever? No, they won’t, shut up.
In light of the popular myth that sharks don’t get cancer—they do, so again, shut up—it turns out that shark cartilage pills are useless in combating lung cancer. So here’s to one less of the way-too-many reasons for people to kill way-too-many sharks.
But seriously, even if sharks didn’t get cancer, what of it? Penguins don’t get herpes but they’re not smooshed and sold on the Internet, to the vexation of some.
[via the Los Angeles Times]
And if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “Hey, I wonder if the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will kill any sharks?” Well, guess what? The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will kill any sharks! Particularly worrisome is the fate of the fucking huge and fucking harmless whale sharks, the world’s largest fish. As filter feeders, whale sharks are particularly prone to sucking down the floating oil globules. The oil could coat their throats, inhibiting their ability to feed, and their gills, inhibiting their ability to breathe, and… No, that’s enough. Starved and suffocated, that’s two forms of “dead”.
Fortunately, the whale sharks haven’t been appearing in the polluted area, since they tend to hold tight to the Yucatan until June. Which is, what, four days away? Plenty of time, let’s get top killing, etc. It’s like Red Asphalt, only this time it’s a humongous fish riding a Big Wheel into the middle of the intersection.
(oh, and just about a year ago, About.com was all, “Hey, there’s more sharks than ever in the Gulf!” which, y’know… ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha [dies])
[from the Associated Press, via MSNBC.com]
While this does not technically pertain to sharks, we’re always striving to put the “yes” in “chondrichthyes”: Tampa Bay Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez was stabbed in the foot by a Tampa Bay ray. The stingray, a species long known for its ardent support of Reid Brignac, jumped Rodriguez out behind his condo, and Rodriguez needed the help of teammate Jason Bartlett to get the paramedics. Nonetheless, Rodriguez was unharmed, and able to grab a bat that very night, where he promptly struck out. Which is what he would’ve done anyway. He’s not very good, being the joke.
Yahoo Sports’ commenters basically took care of all of the attacked-by-your-team’s-mascot jokes (“Cecil Fielder was eaten in Bangladesh,” etc.). Also, they took Yahoo Sports reporter “‘Duk” (not his real name) to task for misusing the word “ironic”. Yahoo Sports commenters should all be eaten by bears.
[via Yahoo Sports]
!!DEVELOPING!! Apparently, penguins do get herpes. !!DEVELOPING!!
[via the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, which is totally a thing]
And last but certainly not least, sharks can become invisible.
Though this news might be seen as terrifying by some—sure scared the shit out of Gizmodo, who are awful anxious for a bunch of iPhone-swiping Somali pirates—it turns out this trick only works when looking at sharks from below. Researchers at the Catholic University of Louvain observed captive velvet belly lantern sharks, which possess light-emitting cells known as “photophores” on their ventral surfaces. As the scientists altered the light being shone into the tank, the light from the photophores changed to match; any creature looking up at the sharks would not be able to distinguish them from the the general illumination coming in from the surface.
“But what about if I’m diving?” you may ask. Well, then, if you’re the type of person who is frequently mauled by animals under two feet in length, you’re just flat fucked. Sorry. But since we at Nerdist are not ones to be held back by the PC language police, we’ll also say you’re a freakishly small person. Like, tiny!
In an interesting side note regarding the positioning of the photophores, the scientists hypothesized there may be a further flirty purpose to them; they may attract mates, judging by their clustering around the sharks’ genitals. As it is Friday afternoon and my crotch is stubbornly not glowing, I’m reasonably sure I’m in for a world of sad.
Gizmodo, on the other hand… man, if those guys’ crotches don’t glow, whose do? Whose do??
((got a whitetip tip? I’ll bite))