A rag-bag of topics have tickled my fancy this week. Let’s start with sharks, everybody’s favourite ocean-going boogy fish. Two young men were bitten while swimming up in the Whitsundays recently. That makes five attacks in that area in just over a year, one of them fatal. Inevitably, the calls have gone up. There must be retribution (culling) and/or protection (drum lines or shark nets).
Let’s get this into perspective. In an entire year, around the world, six people are killed in shark attacks. Six.  People go into the shark’s environment, often wearing wetsuits that make them look like seals, the fish’s natural prey. There will be attacks. Sharks are apex predators. But there aren’t that many of them out there and their numbers are dwindling. Fishermen catch sharks, cut off their fins for the Chinese market, and chuck the fish overboard to die. Smaller sharks end up in your Friday fish and chips. So how many sharks do humans kill in one year? A bit more than six.
Culling is stupid and only called for by people who thought the Jaws movies were real. Sharks don’t come back to eat people. Most of the time they mistake humans in wetsuits for seals. And often they take a bite, go YUCK, and move on. Unfortunately, with all those teeth, even a nibble is enough to sever an artery.
Drum lines are offshore floats with baited hooks on lines. Read more here. They’re set to protect popular beaches and are designed to catch and kill sharks, although recent changes require councils to check the drums each day and release sharks since some species are endangered. Um… I’ll opt out of removing the hook from a three-metre great white’s mouth, thanks. It’s obvious drum lines will catch more than sharks and claims they reduce shark attacks at beaches is disputed.
Shark nets catch much more than sharks. Lots of other innocent fish, dolphins and turtles (which drown), and every year at least two or three whales have to be cut free during their migration.
I spent many, many long summer days at the beach in Perth when I was growing up. There were no nets or drum lines, but there was an aircraft (the surf patrol) that regularly checked the beaches and reported any shark sightings. On the rare occasion that one showed up, a siren sounded, we all went ashore and watched as the boys launched a surf boat to scare the shark off.
These days with drones so accessible (and cheap) surely aerial surveillance is a simple option.
Next topic, political advertising. Recently on Facebook the feed is full of Brexit and the interminable American presidential election campaign. And in both cases, most of the posts I see are personal attacks on candidates. It’s all so narrow and negative. I don’t really care if somebody smoked dope when they were at university, I want to know what their policies are, whether they’ve been costed, and why I should give them my vote.
Okay, I’m off the soap box now. A few weeks ago I shared some garden pictures in my post ‘Spring has sprung’. Goodness, how everything has grown.
Green beans grown from seed, with marigolds along the bottom. That’s around 2.4 metres (8ft). We’re still picking. There’s nothing like eating beans picked ten minutes ago 🙂
Three tomato plants – one big, one cherry, one roma. They’re covered in unripe fruit but we’ll have to get them before the fruit flies. That’s a fruit fly trap hanging next to them.
A pair of paw-paws. They’re steaming along, though no sign of fruit yet.
We’ve managed to pick our bananas before the birds noticed them starting to ripen and shared our bounty with the neighbours. And I have hopes that at least some of the mangoes will actually get to ripen this year. They seem to go in a biennial cycle, with a reasonable crop every other year. Here’s hoping.
And we’ve got lots of herbs, rocket (arugula), and lettuce.
I like your ideas about sharks and your simple solution to monitor via drones. On Cape Cod we have had one fatality and another attach in the last year or so. Thousands of dollars are being spent on research of alternatives. I wish that the politicians would take your recommendation.
Thanks for the information. Before I forget, loved your Iron Admiral books.
Thanks on both counts, Bob. You’ve made my day.