Chill out with Sharks in the Farallones

A co-worker of mine took this adventure trip out to the Farallon Islands to see Great White Sharks. Nature’s most perfect killing machine. A fish that breathes murder and exhales terror. The multi-toothed, never-sleeping, two-ton savage appetite of nature.

She boated out there, my co-worker did, and sat in the boat an arm’s breadth from these gray and white avatars of death. Some people on her tour–either insane or brave, only their families or doctors know for sue–went into a shark cage and into the water. Tourists goes into cage. The cage goes into the water. The sharks in the water. Our shark.

(True Story: I watched Jaws when I was five on TV. I was sitting on the couch next to my mother. She kept telling me to not dangle my little feet off the edge of the couch, as the shark under the couch would eat me. She also told me–with utter seriousness–that Jaws was a true story. I’ve been terrified of sharks and the open ocean ever since.)

Apparently though, the water at the Farallon Islands is very murky and the people in the shark cage couldn’t see anything. I asked if they chummed–tossed fish bits into the water–to attract the sharks, but that wouldn’t work as the blood-hungry monsters live off elephant seals. And they couldn’t exactly kill a seal and bait the water with it, could they?

Instead they dragged a surfboard behind the boat and watched the sharks attack it. A surfboard. So, what they were doing in effect was training sharks in the Farallones to attack tasty surfboards. Nice. Click through above to get details about the shark tour, if you’re the type who digs this sort of thing.

And if you want to see an amazing video of Great White Sharks leaping through the air and–oddly enough–attacking surfboards being pulled behind boats, rent Air Jaws from GreenCine or Netflix sometime.

5 Comments so far

  1. A. Goblin (unregistered) on April 26th, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

    Sharks already attack surfboards (the silhouettes resemble seals).

    You could see it as training the shark that surfboards *aren’t* tasty (seals), because they’re not… which the shark may be figuring out. Or not. Or, it doesn’t care, and will continue to do what sharks already do, which is gobble seal-sized things that get in front of them. In which case it’s not going to be “trained” either way, so the surfboard dragging is a non-issue except for the indigestion and gum-splinters.


  2. TinMan (unregistered) on April 26th, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

    Ol’ Whitey practices the spit-or-swallow method to identify comestibles. If they can rip off a chunk they can swallow, then it’s chowtime. They have an acute sense of smell, so if it bleeds, it’s probably gonna end up in their stomachs.

    As mentioned above, surfboards looks like nice juicy seals and sea lions. Sharks generally attack from underneath, and the silhouettes are similar.


  3. anna (unregistered) on April 26th, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

    I couldn’t convince my nephew to swim in Aquatic Park the other day because he remembers going to the (cheesy) aquarium on Fisherman’s Wharf not a block away- that has a shark exhibit. Same thing as your childhood memories- that they will bite your toes the moment you set foot in the water. But still, a healthy fear in general. The Santa Cruz surfer’s museum has a wetsuit all chewed up from a white shark attack.


  4. Nancy (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 4:01 pm

    I, too, saw Jaws as a child – numerous matinee showings – after which we proceeded immediately to the beach, mere yards from the theater. We’d swim, but as soon as the tide swept us up above safe ‘touching bottom’ depth, we shrieked the ear-piercing shriek of little girls, and then did it all over again.

    I still fear sharks in the open ocean. And yes, I still shriek the ear-piercing shriek, little or not.


  5. Jane (unregistered) on May 1st, 2007 @ 10:23 am

    Using surfboards to attract sharks is bad for the sharks, and bad for the environment, which is why our company, (http://www.incredible-adventures.com/sharks_farallons.html) which also offers shark dives in the Farallons, will never use them. The hard wood of a surfboard can injure a shark who mistakes it for a seal and the splinters from the board after an attack will polute the water. Incredible Adventures attracts seals with the use of a decoy that actually looks like a seal and is made from eco-friendly and shark-friendly household carpeting.



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