Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shark Spotted in La Jolla - Photo - La Jolla Children's Pool and La Jolla Cove - now an open "McShark." WARNING TO SWIMMERS.

Photo Submitted by AC - Photograph Shark spotted heading directly for Children's Pool in La Jolla, CA
Click photo to ENLARGE.

I sent this to several local papers, a few versions were published today. Yesterday, when a few folks from our office were heading to the cove, the lifeguards actually warned them, "you might not want to swim, there are sharks out there today."

"Dear Editor,

As a 17-year resident of La Jolla, I've watched the seal controversy closely. Or I should say, I've smelled it.

I think that the majority of the people who have fought to keep the seals in Children's pool obviously don't live there, or anywhere nearby. That, or their sense of smell has been burned out by all the Magic Markers used to create the "Keep the Seals!" signs. I jest.

I love seals, but in this case the overpopulated seal sanctuary in La Jolla is woefully misplaced and the fervent welcome and protection from some is based on a misunderstanding of the situation and the risks. With increasing regret, I have watched the seals take over the Children's protected pool left by Ellen Browning Scripps to the children of the world. I know the I-want-the-seals-here-now advocates with enough persistence, may be able to legally argue their way out of any trust or contract because with enough money and support you can prevail in almost any public argument. Unfortunately, after doing so much for San Diego, Ellen passed away in 1932 at the age of 95, so she really can't argue with them. But that does not mean what they so passionately argue is right. We're smarter than that, aren't we?

It's pretty clear that the spirit and intent of Ellen's agreement was that the children could continue to SWIM
in the pool, no matter what the seal advocates argue. Just read the trust. It's online. I still remember fondly the smiles years ago in the children's faces and the laughs of joy I could hear from the children who love the ocean as I ran by Children's pool. But since then, I've seen the seal population expand, slowly but inexorably and more aggressively, and now seals and sea lions are starting to take over into the La Jolla Cove. The smell is spreading.

That's right, just come visit to see that the seals and sea lions are now taking over the rocks and beach of the La Jolla Cove. Tourists cluster around them, blissfully unaware that they are looking at and supporting creatures whose overpopulation and sanctuary like protection along formerly our most popular swimming beaches will endanger the humans who enjoyed swimming in the cove and may well, again someday, rob someone of a father, a mother, a son and a daughter because of the predators they attract.

Living just up the hill from the cove, I see and smell more and more of them every month. And when watching the ocean, it's clear that seals are more frequently spotted near the human swimmers. When I run past the seals at Children's Pool, I gag for several minutes when I inhale the horrible stench that now wafts into the houses, apartments and lives of the thousands of residents who live upwind of this madness. I love the San Diego Zoo, but I don't want to live in it.

I've been increasingly scared to swim in the La Jolla waters for several reasons. For starters, I've researched the bacteria and viruses that seals carry and transmit to humans. Just Google it. You’ll find extensive citations about the serious illnesses that humans can get from the contamination from seal fecal matter and other viruses and waste from the seal population. It can impact humans for miles north and south of a seal colony. And according to marine researchers, there are now hundreds of seals down there, and they have eaten all the fish. Yes, remember those beautiful goldfish that the tourists used to love to snorkel with? Almost all gone. Or the small fish that would swim near the top of the water with the swimmers and snorkelers? Gone. I've been in the water, the fish are disappearing, but we don't see anyone out there with a petition to save the fish. Just as the seals have preyed upon these welcome former inhabitants of the cove, the growing seal population will attract a universally unwelcome predator. Remember the sharks that starred in movies or made tragic headlines? They're baaaaaack. Or soon to be. It's a universal law, predators find their bait.

Experts agree - seals attract Great White Sharks, across the web you see warnings "Do not swim, snorkel or surf near seals." And so, have we gone mad? We've opened a Great White bait shop in the middle of the most populated swimming, surfing and snorkeling areas in the world. Most surfers and many swimmers don a black wetsuit, resembling, you guessed it - a seal. It only makes sense that where our legislators open a sea food restaurant, hungry predators will show up for lunch.

If you keep an eye out when walking on local beaches or past what has become the Seals Pool, you may catch
a glimpse of a half-eaten seal carcass. I've seen them. So have my friends. You can check out some of these photos and the increasing reports over the past few years of Great White spotting - click, a site that track shark sightings along our coasts.

Photo: Seal bitten by shark photo taken at Children's Pool.

I am not mad at the people who love the seals and hang out with signs and petitions near Children's pool. I am, however very disappointed in the legislative groups that are missing the sharp toothed point: The decision to keep the seals will increasingly threaten human life and continue to violate our rights to breathe clean non-choke-me-zoo-like air where we live.

Based on what I've learned about the loss of a fantastic triathlete, father and husband David Martin to a Great White shark in June 2008 - the seals were a factor, After all, the closest colony, is, yep - La Jolla. And with a 25-mile colony range, the coastlines 25 miles north and 25 miles south are less safe than they were before the seal population explosion in La Jolla. When David Martin was fatally attacked, common sense dictates that it was likely a morning shark-hunt-seal chase gone bad - because that morning, a seal beached itself just before the attack. Months before that attack, I had published on my blog, several shark swimming warnings letting people know not to swim at dawn or dusk, because divers were increasingly spotting Great Whites in the area.

The Los Angeles Times contacted me after the attack for a quote because of my prediction online of an impending shark attack. This was one prediction I never wanted to be right about. Nor do I want to be right about what I see as an inevitable reprise.

We can be sure that there are sound arguments from the seal colony's self-elected custodians, and that there are details of this debate that I have missed, but this letter is an appeal to common sense. As a disclaimer, I'm not a seal researcher or a Great White expert and I know that more people die from dog bites each year than shark attacks. Even so, as a San Diego entrepreneur who lives on the front lines of this controversy, I regrettably predict that this decision to keep the seals here stinking up one of the most beautiful places on earth will directly cause another shark attack on a human, or two. It could be tomorrow, it could be in ten years. I pray I'm wrong, but if I'm right, I'll bet the folks involved in making the decision to surrender our beautiful beaches from our children to the seals - undeniably knowing and understanding that their decision caused a substantial increased risk to swimmers, surfers and to our children - will be hearing from the lawyers of the families of the deceased.

One of the privileges of making it to the top of the food chain should be our legislators’ commitment to do everything they can to keep us there.


Mitch Thrower

Chairman, La Jolla Foundation, Inc"

From Wikihow, here is the current entry..
Steps to avoid a shark attack:

1. Stay out of shark-infested waters. The best way to avoid shark attacks is to stay out of water where sharks live. This of course means staying out of the ocean, but it also means staying out of estuaries and coastal rivers and lakes.
* Heed warnings. Coastal areas where sharks have recently been sighted will often have posted warnings, and even in the absence of these, local people may be able to alert you to potential dangers. Stay out of the water if warned to do so.
* Avoid steep dropoffs and the areas between sandbars. These are among sharks' favorite haunts.
* Avoid waters contaminated with effluents or sewage. Sharks are drawn to these areas. Of course, that's not the only reason to avoid polluted water.
* Avoid swimming near fishing activity. Sharks may come in for a snack off fishermen's nets or lines, and they may be attracted by bait or by discarded fish. Even in the absence of fishing boats, if you see seabirds swooping down to the water, there's a good chance there's fishing activity or feeding going on.
2. Know your shark. There are more than 300 species of sharks, but very few of these are considered dangerous to humans. In fact, three species--the white, tiger, and bull sharks--are responsible for the vast majority of human fatalities. These sharks are widely distributed in coastal waters throughout the world, and if you see them or know they are present you should exit the water as soon as safely possible. The oceanic whitetip shark is more common in the open ocean and can also be aggressive. Find out what kinds of sharks may be present where you will be entering the water, but keep in mind that any shark over 6 feet in length should be considered potentially dangerous.
3. Carry a weapon. If you're diving in waters where you're likely to encounter sharks, carry a speargun or pole-spear. By no means should you provoke an attack or lull yourself into a false sense of security with these weapons, but if you are attacked they may save your life.
4. Dress appropriately. Stick to dull swimwear and wetsuits, as bright or flashy colors with high contrast can attract sharks. Avoid wearing jewelry, as the reflection of light off such accessories is similar to the reflection of light off a fish's scales, and it can thus make you look like food. Cover your diving watch with the cuff of your wetsuit. Similarly, avoid or cover uneven tanning, as the contrast makes you more visible to shark. The bright yellows and oranges typical of life jackets and flotation devices can be attractive to sharks, but if you're in the open ocean you need to consider that these colors also make you more visible to rescuers.
5. Be vigilant. You may encounter any number of hazards when diving, surfing, or swimming in the ocean or coastal rivers, and you should always be wary. Proceed with caution in whatever you do, and be aware of your environment. If you spot a shark, don't let it out of your sight until you're safely on shore or in the boat.
6. Move gracefully. Avoid splashing on the surface of the water, and try to swim smoothly at all times. Avoid sudden or erratic movements when in the presence of sharks, as these may draw attention to you and, worse yet, give you the appearance of being wounded. If you see a shark nearby while you're diving, stay as still as possible to avoid attracting its attention or threatening it.
7. Swim in a group. Regardless of the danger of sharks, you should avoid swimming alone. If sharks are present, however, it's even more important to travel with a buddy or a group. Sharks are less likely to approach and attack a group of people, and if one member of the group is attacked, help is immediately available. When diving in the presence of sharks, one member of the group should be charged solely with watching the sharks and detecting changes in their behavior.
8. Recognize aggressive behavior. Sharks swimming slowly and smoothly are generally not a threat. They may approach divers but are generally just curious when they do so. If a shark begins making sudden movements, swimming quickly or erratically, or if it shows signs of aggression or irritation--pointing its pectoral fins down, arching its back, pointing its head upward, zig-zagging, or charging--it may be considering an attack. Swim quickly and smoothly to safety, either out of the water or to a defensible location, and prepare to defend yourself.
9. Stay out of the water at night and during dawn and dusk. Sharks hunt most actively at these times, and they're harder for you to see in dark conditions.
10. Stay out of the water if bleeding. If you have an open wound. Women need not be concerned if they are experiencing menstrual bleeding. Tampon's remedy this and with out one the amount of blood released in a 30-45 minute dive would be exceptionally minuscule. [1]
11. Avoid provoking sharks. A little less than half of documented shark attacks result from provocation or harassment of sharks, particularly by divers. Use common sense, and give sharks plenty of space. Do not attempt to catch or prod sharks. Don't corner them, and don't try to get close to them to photograph them. But, if you have to get close, be sure to carry a weapon. (Look at earlier paragraph.)

No comments:

Post a Comment