Every week is Shark Week in Florida

Elle and I have been watching shark attacks on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week all day.  Living in Florida, it’s good to be reminded of some facts that would never enter the mind of someone from, say…Upper Michigan and suburban D.C.


Some of these little nuggets of lifesaving information include:

  • Don’t wear shiny objects in the water (such as metal clasps of a swimsuit, necklaces, or rings)
  • Even in knee-deep water, you’re at risk of being bitten by a shark.
  • Don’t go into the water around sunrise or right before sunset.  That’s prime feeding time and you’re just asking for it.
  • Don’t wear any clothing that may cause a shark to mistake you for one of its natural prey. 
  • Camouflage swimming shorts make your torso look like a sea turtle, with really long appendages.
  • Don’t hang around people who have no common sense and think it’s a good idea to take a dip in the ocean when the sun goes down. 
  • Where you see a gathering of birds, there is usually a gathering of fish.  Where there is a gathering of fish, there could potentially be a shark – and more than one. 
  • Same goes for dolphins.  If you see dolphins, there may be a shark nearby.  But not always.
  • Sharks will intentionally bump into an object in the water, just to help them determine if it’s worth sinking their teeth into.

Which makes me wonder…

What bumped into my leg that afternoon at Vilano Beach?

My family and I had decided to take a drive down to an area near St. Augustine, just to see what the beaches were like there.  It’s a small town and pleasantly quiet and uncrowded.  The beach was nothing like what I was used to which was the fine sand from Amelia Island that you could dig your toes into if the surface was too hot from the sun.  This beach was covered in billions of pieces of broken shells. I guess we had traded foot comfort for solitude.  We didn’t have to avoid the homeless people on the beach here, only run the risk of getting the soles of our feet sliced open by a cracked and serrated fan shell. 

I seriously believed that was the most danger I would encounter and, anyway, we had some Neosporin back at the house. 

I’m not a swimmer.  I could swim enough to save my own life (if I were in a 6-foot deep backyard swimming pool) but if you start floundering and going down in the water, you need to save your own ass.  That being said, I don’t normally venture out too far when I’m in the ocean. 

All of us managed to wander out a little bit.  My dad usually goes out the furthest because he’s either a) a really good swimmer, b) really, really stupid, or c) a shark wrestler.  (Please don’t look to the end of this post for the answer to that quiz question – I honestly don’t have one)

I decided to walk out to waist-deep water, which isn’t really that deep.  I mean, I’m only 5’2 so the water couldn’t have been deeper than 3 feet.  Already at my waist, I started to feel uncomfortable and saw no point in walking out any deeper so I turned around to head back to the shore.  I noticed I was only one of maybe 3 or 4 other people in the water at that moment.  The others were on surfboards and I was free-standing. 

All the people on the beach were pointing at me.  I decided it was a good idea to not look around me.  Then it happened…


It’s an honest miracle that I did not crap my bikini bottom just then because I wanted nothing more than to make everyone stop looking at me and pointing at me and get me the hell out of the water…RIGHT NOW!!!

(okay, you know that part from The Toy with Richard Pryor?  The one when he’s getting attacked by the piranhas and to save himself he starts running ON the surface of the water?  I think I did that.  Except my cool moves didn’t require movie magic…I actually ran on water!)

By the time I got to the shore, people were still pointing at something out in the water.  Since I was safely near my family, who claims they weren’t paying attention to a damn thing that was going on and didn’t know why I was so panicked, I decided to turn around. 

Gulp!  There were fins.  Dolphins fins, but still…there were fins. 

This man overheard me telling my family that I felt something fairly strong bump into my left leg and proceeded to inform me that dolphins will usually gang up on a shark when they see it attacking something by mistake.



About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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