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Copyright © 2020 by Lee Silber

Fear of Sharks (and Other Things)

When Irrational Fear Become Rational


Ignorance is bliss. When I first moved to Maui I surfed a break near where I lived without a care in the world. Later, I learned the spot was called Shark Pit. I thought it was just a clever name and I had nothing to fear. Not so much. A woman swam out at this same spot to swim with a pod of dolphins only to realize (too late) it was several sharks in a feeding frenzy. 


Statistics show that a person is more likely to be struck by lightning than bit by a shark. However, if you surf near a river mouth, at dawn or dusk, and are bleeding your odds of a shark encounter go way up. When I was bumped by a shark at my regular surf spot, I thought it was a fluke—because I was bleeding and it was early in the morning. Still . . .


I switched to surfing in front of my house because I thought it was safer . . . until last week. My Lifeguard friend asked me if I noticed the helicopter hovering over the water in front of my house. I told him I hadn’t. That’s when he explained there was a large Great White shark in the surf zone. Should I be afraid? Would you?




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