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Friday, April 30, 2010

Expert Teaches You How to Get Eaten by a Great White Shark

Posted By on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 11:11 AM

click to enlarge El Monstruo de Cojimar was captured off the coast of Cuba in 1945 and purportedly clocked in at 21 feet.
  • El Monstruo de Cojimar was captured off the coast of Cuba in 1945 and purportedly clocked in at 21 feet.
Dr. John McCosker, the Senior Scientist and Chair of the Department of Aquatic Biology at the California Academy of Science, presented a talk called "Sharks: Why We Love, Fear, and Need Them" at the museum last night.

The point of his talk, of course, was to condemn the rapid and brutal depletion of shark population worldwide to satisfy a seemingly endless appetite for shark fins. But he also favored the audience with several tongue-in-cheek tips on how to get eaten by a Great White Shark, if that's what you're into.

1. Look Like Food
You should definitely flounder around in a wet suit on top of a surfboard. A shortboard. Because that's how you can best look like a pinniped (such as a seal), which sharks love to eat. The vast majority of unprovoked shark attacks involve people wearing wet suits. And, interestingly, the shift from longboards to shortboards saw an increase in shark attacks, possibly because the smaller boards better resemble a delicious pinniped.


2. Go Swimming in the Red Triangle During the Months of September through November
The Red Triangle

is a plot of sea off the Northern Coast of California where Great White

Sharks love to hang out and where a number of Great White attacks on

humans have taken place. McCosker suggested that if you were really

anxious to tangle with a White, the months of August and September

might be best, as salmon are swimming down from the Oregon Coast, the

pinnipeds are following the salmon, and the Great White Sharks are

following the pinipeds. It's like one big, moving buffet. "That would

be a really fantastic time," McCosker assured the audience.

3. Be an Abalone Diver off the Farallon Islands
Strangely

enough, when McCosker asked the audience if there were any abalone

divers present, about five people raised their hands. (Some people knit,

others dive for abalone.)

Abalone divers sometimes dive to depths of 20 or more feet to obtain

the prize meat and when you do that in an area where pinnipeds like to

hang out, you're also doing it in an area where Great White Sharks like

to hang out. The Farrallon Islands

used to be a favorite spot for abalone diving. It's also one of the

Great White Sharks favorite places to gather, which is why most people

gave up on abalone diving at the Farallons a long time ago. Every time

McCosker mentioned being an abalone diver, he chuckled to himself like

he'd heard a really hilarious joke he just couldn't get over.

Expounding

on shark attacks is a good way to get people in seats, but McCosker's

love for the Great White was apparent, and he stressed that despite the

tales of gore he was spinning for the audience, the actual numbers of

unprovoked shark attacks were spectacularly low when kept in

perspective. When he strayed from the sensational topic at hand and 

launched into a spirited description of how the sharks heat their

massive bodies, the eyes of half-drunk squirming hipsters on dates

started to glaze over.

 "Really, it's fascinating. Just look it up on Wikipedia when you get home," he said. It pays to know your audience.

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Andy Wright

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