Deconstructing A Shark Attack

If you’re a surfer (and even if you’re not) I’d allege that sharks are lurking somewhere in your consciousness of late.

I personally still can’t wrap my head around Mick Fanning’s confrontation and survival against old whitey. In the final of a WSL event. Broadcast to the world on live television and the web. No matter how many times I watch the attack (see below), it still shocks me.

The North coast of NSW is abuzz with debate following a spate of shark attacks in the last 12months. To cull or not to cull? Do we have a right to feel safe in their territory? Why are seemingly more attacks happening?

These are sticky questions and I’m not even going there.

Of all the media delirium over “Sharks Gone Wild” I most enjoyed reading journalist Shannon Harvey’s article What A Shark Attack Can Teach Us About Stress. It’s not about sharks. It’s about the chemical reactions that underpin the ‘fight or flight’ response in our body, and it’s fascinating.

Harvey discusses the science behind why Julian Wilson felt compelled to paddle TOWARDS rather than away from Fanning and the shark i.e. we often have a hardwired instinct to HELP others in stressful situations. And the bear hugs and torrents of tears from Mick and his mates in the wake of the attack might actually have guided the body back to a state of chemical harmony.

I’ve followed Shannon’s blog since watching her documentary The Connection. She was diagnosed with a chronic disease 10 years ago, and the film is about her journey in discovering the inextricable link between mind and body, and how we can use this to our benefit by learning how to better manage stress. It’s worth a watch if you’re into psychology and health.

As for the men in grey suits- if you feel like being both spooked and intrigued- this old issue of Surfing World Magazine includes George Greenough describing some crazy ass shark encounters and why he believes he is still alive. He reckons he would’ve been mince had he furiously scurried away from the sharks. Rather, he treaded water and faced them so he didn’t appear as prey. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it….

 

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