Nobody should be surprised there are sharks in the ocean, but not since I saw Jaws have I been so scared to brave the waves. This summer, it seems reports of shark attacks — especially on children — are out of control.
Last week, 11-year-old Lucas Vertullo was attacked by a shark in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Earlier this week, two kids lost limbs (limbs!) in a North Carolina shark attack. Just yesterday, a 10-year-old boy was bitten by a shark in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. Thankfully he wasn’t seriously hurt, but still!
These beach days turned into bloody nightmares plus the flesh-eating bacteria in Florida’s oceans have me really rethinking my affection for the ocean. The long, lazy days I look forward to are now filled with fear of what lurks below those lovely waves.
When we moved to Florida eight years ago, the proximity to beaches was a huge plus. Having grown up in landlocked Nebraska, I was in awe that we could be at so many beaches so quickly. My children have grown up with their toes in the sand, and it saddens me to think about avoiding the ocean. But it’s getting pretty freaking scary out there.
Yes, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of becoming shark bait, and experts say shark attacks aren’t increasing but rather better reporting and more water activity make it seem that way. Still, the fact is that if you’re in their home, you’re fair game for their dinner. The risk may not be high, but it’s a risk nonetheless.
And that’s the thing, I guess. There are risks out there no matter where we go, and we have to decide how much we’re willing to sacrifice to try to mitigate them and keep our kids safe. Will we avoid the beach all summer because of what-ifs? I don’t know yet. At some point my yearning for the salt air and the moan of bored children will probably get us there. Because while yes, there are risks, there is also the risk of too much TV time, car crashes and cancer-causing everything everywhere.
So while I’d feel safer banning the beach this summer, I’ll probably summon up my courage at some point, take our chances and hope for the best… while compulsively watching the water for signs of fins the whole time.
If not, I guess there’s always the pool. But then this…
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