Avoiding the shark’s bite

Sharks and the coast of the Carolinas seem to go hand in glove lately, and there are numerous reasons being thrown around from experts to the guy at the barbershop to beach bloggers.

It’s the ecosystem along the Carolina coast.

It’s the environment along the Carolina coast.

It’s because of higher salt levels along the coast of the Carolinas.

It’s a previous tropical storm that landed on the Carolina coast.

It’s the vinegar-based barbecue sauce on the Carolina coast.

And on and on and on.

Here’s what I think is the common denominator for each and every one of the reported shark attacks — people in the water. Simple as that.

Seriously, it would seem that, after a couple of folks get nibbled on by a passing shark — whether its a little sand shark, great white or anything in between — I’m thinking it’s a really good time to stay on dry sand. Listen to the crashing waves, watch the seagulls run along the edge of the water, try to find sand crabs before they dig back into the earth and look for dolphins playing out-a-ways. But do NOT get anything more than your toes wet.

I can guarantee that nobody who has stayed out of the water has had to worry about becoming shark bait. They just don’t come up on land unless they are attached to a heavy-duty fishing line with a massive hook at the other end. Even then, they aren’t exactly happy.

I understand it’s summer. I get that people are at the beach on vacation. But it would seem that, when you put complete safety in the right hand and even the possibility of a shark having you or your child in its sights in the left hand … well, I hope the right hand wins out so that the plans later that day will be for a nice dinner with the family and not an agonizing stay in the hospital after a shark has had its human filet dinner.

I’m sure that, after the first shark attack, each and every person who chose to go in the water — including those who have since been bitten — have thought, “ah, it won’t happen to me.” Guess what … it can and did.

OK, so there are statistics that claim being the target of a shark attack is really slim. Experts say there are “only” 70 to 100 shark attacks worldwide each year and “only” five to 10 result in death — which comes out to a one in 3,748,067 chance of it happening to YOU. Compare that with being more likely to die from fireworks (one in 340,733), lightning (one in 79,746), drowning (one in 1,134), a car accident (one in 84), stroke (one in 24) or heart disease (one in five).

So, using those statistics … why not thrash yourself straight into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Carolinas? Because in the last handful of weeks, there have already been 11 shark attacks along the coast of the Carolinas. ELEVEN.

That’s a pretty significant number. And though I understand the feeling of invincibility most people try to exude, especially if there is a significant other in the area, this isn’t like climbing a tree to the top or riding a bicycle over a huge, badly constructed ramp or even standing up to a bully who just kicked sand on your potato chips. In this case, the bully is a shark that cares nothing about your braggadocious or need to feel an adrenaline rush. These guys FEED on adrenaline for snacks and don’t think anything of it.

For those who still think it can’t happen to them, well … that’s an IQ level hardly worth bragging about or debating with.

For those who might want to allow some common sense to seep into their decision-making and reconsider splashing into the water, I have a couple of alternative suggestions:

For one, focus on creating a really incredible, detailed sandcastle. Your friends and significant other will be seriously impressed and they will be able to shake your hand because, well … you will still have two. And yes, the sandcastle CAN be of a shark, if you like.

Two, work on your tan all day on dry sand, enjoy a Coney dog with fries and a drink. The go back to the cottage or condo, shower and settle in with a repeat of the “Sharknado” movie or watch tonight’s episodes of “Shark Week” on the Weather Channel — paying careful attention to what those razor-sharp teeth can do to potential food and foes.

Enjoy your vacation. And most of all, do it in one piece.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.