Back in the Water for #SharkWeek

Kelly and Susie Santa Monica Beach

The crashing of the sea drowned out my beating heart as I stepped into the waves with my surfboard. I would share this massive body of water with all kinds of sea creatures including sharks. The last time I surfed, the rhythmic waves in Costa Rica made standing up on a board as simple as standing on a picnic table. That board’s width and length helped too. This time would be different. The foam board would be gentle on my knee if I smacked it, but its narrow width and my still wimpy left leg would make balance squirrelly. I was stoked for the challenge. 

I have never been at ease when black water swirled around my body. I’ve spent a lot of time in lakes and had been nibbled several times. But a lifeguard stood on the Santa Monica beach while helicopters watched from their perch in the sky. I had no fear of sharks. 

What happened here?

Shark bites board

Fear is a funny thing. In an interview with Joe Rogan, Rhonda Patrick spoke of being afraid of sharks. That cracked me up. Knowing the stats keeps me from being afraid.

Shark attacks in the US:

16 attacks per year in the US. 

1 fatality every two years. 

Car accidents in the US:

1.3 million hurt or maimed.

37,000 fatalities.

Car accidents globally:

20-50 million people are hurt or maimed in car crashes.

1.3 million fatalities. MILLION.

Plane crashes worldwide:

The odds of dying in a plane crash – 1 in 29.4 million.

Back in the water

The woman who helped me with my rental wetsuit mentioned her fear of big waves. As a water skier, I’ve been tossed like a skipping stone and body slammed into the wake. I’ve tumbled under deep water after wiping out while slalom skiing. I had never panicked while swimming toward the sun.

My son rented a wetsuit too. The last time he surfed, he fell off his board and the fin sliced through the thick material. He bought a repair kit. 

Being pretty much a novice surfer, I did have one fear. Other surfers. Once we arrived at the beach, I headed for an open spot and practiced riding the surf to shore. It was a blast.

Back in the water for #sharkweek

After surfing for a couple of hours, I was ready to quit. My tired arms had held my board countless times against the torrential current. As the ocean surged again, I readied myself for the onslaught. I planned to ride the wave to shore.

The huge swell caught me early, but I stayed upright. Instead of looking back, I knew the next would slam into me in seconds. I waited. 

That’s when I felt it. 

The impact of a surfer’s board bashed into me from behind. It knocked me into the agitated breaker. Being in water slows motion, so I covered my head. The fin sliced the bottom of my foot. As I finally found my way to the surface and stepped down, I was sure it had cut through the skin. It felt gaping. The surfer apologized and wanted to know if I was hurt. I didn’t want to look. Luckily, only a long welt formed. No cut just banged up in a few places. 

Where does most fear of sharks come from? The most famous of shark movies: Jaws.

“It’s safe to go back in the water, We’re going to need a bigger boat,” and “That’s some hat Harry,” are my favorite lines. I remember seeing the film in a movie theater and bruising my knee on the seat ahead of me when that gargantuan great white appeared for the first time. My first shark attack was virtual.

A couple of summers ago, I watched Jaws poolside. Coolest experience ever. As the tension grew taught, fewer swimmers remained in the pool. All it took was two notes. 

jaws at the pool

I didn’t see any sharks, but I did get hurt. Will I go back? Of course! 

Fear is often irrational. You could be that one in a million. Someone is. I would rather focus my attention on being lucky enough to get traditionally published or win a contest. Remember, where attention goes, energy flows. Yep. I won’t think about other surfers next time. 

What is your worst fear? Would you face it if you had the chance?

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77 thoughts on “Back in the Water for #SharkWeek

    • It can be intimidating. I watched a show for Shark Week last night and these people jumped in the water to tag sharks. It made me realize how they aren’t like heat seeking missiles, ready to munch us at any given moment.
      Thank you! I never felt any pain in the back of arm or leg. I must have been distracted!

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  1. I scrolled very slowly whilst reading this, I can’t even look at a picture of a shark, thankfully you weren’t attacked and there were no shark pics…phew!
    I don’t know where my fear comes from its completely irrational. I remember watching Jaws as a child and being ok with it, Jaws poolside sounds cool however it really would be my idea of hell. I live in Scotland so there are no Great Whites circling our shores I just can’t explain it!
    I’d love to try surfing though I think my fear would take over!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you were on the beach that day, you would have been more relaxed about surfing. There were so many people in the water. Too many for my comfort zone. Being a newbie, I knew I couldn’t control my board that well, but at least I watched out for who was ahead of me, unlike the dude who crashed into me!
      I just learned that about sharks. They don’t like cold water. Maybe if you wore a wetsuit, you’d feel more comfortable too. I did!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fear IS irrational, in most cases and definitely in the case of sharks. I’ve said it a million and one times, we have an irrational fear of sharks. The ocean doesn’t need sharks. The ocean has taken more victims than sharks will ever sniff, and it’s not even close. Storms and riptides and all the other disasters, much more prevalent and dangerous. And thank you, thank you for posting those numbers. Because people forget one very basic thing. We hear about shark attacks only because they are not a common thing. And let’s face it, without getting all Greenpeace here, us humans have contributed greatly to how these creatures travel and where they go. Sharks are graceful and efficient and we could and should be learning from them, not cowering in fear. When I go to the beach, I swim WAY out because I don’t dig touching the sea floor. My only concern out there is the tidal current, which is what takes most people.

    Thank goodness for Shark Week!

    Great post Colorado! (A girl from the mountains doing a post on sharks? What is the world coming to?! 🙂

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    • Thanks so much!
      I’m glad to hear you agree about irrational fear, Cayman! Beaches can be full of kelp and rocks. I can see where that would creep you out. Santa Monica is super sandy. You should go someday.

      I watched a shark program last night. A group of scientists were tagging sharks. They got right in the water with them. The sharks were curious, but left them alone. They did have humongous snaggle tooth smiles. I would have freaked out, for sure.

      I’m a fire sign, Aries, but love the water! It grounds me like nothing else. I want to try paddle surfing. There’s a lake nearby, so maybe this weekend….

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    • I remember feeling like that, Linda! I lived in the land of cheese and lakes, so it didn’t last long. Gars inhabit the waters of Wisconsin and give a nasty bite! Probably as frequently as sharks. Ha!

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  3. You look great in the video, Susie … until the 8 second mark when your hair flew across your face giving you a funny moustache. I had to chuckle at that, but still you look fine and you’re having a great day. Good post! You’re braver than I am.

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  4. I have always wanted to surf! But sharks are my biggest fear! We went to Huntington Beach last month and didn’t go too far in because of all the shark sightings happening that week! Lol

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    • Health issues can be so out of our control.

      You would love surfing! I would suggest a wetsuit. You can stay in the cold water a lot longer. I keep thinking about my bruises and what they would be like had I only worn my swimsuit.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I want to try surfing so bad. I’m not sure I’d be good at it since I never got the hang of water skiing without two skis, but who knows, with the wider board I might do okay. I do have pretty good balance for an old gal.

    Thanks for sharing. Makes me want to get to a beach.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    • You should! I bet you would stand right up. It such good exercise, I’m still feeling my sore muscles. Next time I’m going to try a different board. I just love being in the water!

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  6. I have horror stories of my growing up surfing (Harbor Banana Surf Board – single skag (Fin) and body surfing (Board-less), besides rocking out to local coastal city rock bands, and dancing a gigs, surfing was more a part of my life than High school and working which I managed to fit in. One friend of friend exited the water at Huntington Beach and in knee deep sea waters as his paralleled the sea shore he stepped down upon a large sting ray, (Which it protested to by wiping up its tail and spearing its painful long sharp defensive tail spear right through the guy’s calf. My daughter while walking in ankle deep water in her black dinner dress was walking in conversation with me, it was her high school graduation weekend we were celebrating. I was just ten yard from her walking the dry sand and we strolled the beach. In an instant she was gone, just disappeared completely from sight, she popped back up spitting ocean water choking, creaming as a huge tentacle sea beast brushed her leg under water. She walked right off of a sea self (On Shore in ankle deep water); I tried to calm her and told her it was most likely 20 footer, a sea kelp waving in the outgoing current. What I didn’t tell her was these coastal waters are home to swarms of ‘Diablo rojo’, (They have washed up in Cali, Santa Barbara as well. IF you can image what lurks in that black dark water, swarms of 52 pound giant (sharp Beaked, and teethed suckers upon tentacles) squid.

    And opening your mouth and spitting sea water in their presence is not advisable to do. There was case of woman who was served a too raw, too uncooked feast of squid; she felt a lot of movement in her mouth after her delicious meal. The squid’s Sperm live little beasties embedded into the inner cheeks and gums in her mouth and attached themselves, having to be surgically removes.

    ‘I study Parasites that infest hosts. As well as I study Cryptid creatures of the sea, land and air. And there are Things out there that scare the hell out of the Monsters and mankind alike. (I told you that I have horror stories), (presently studying very strange haunting and stranger events of the Desert War in Afghanistan reported by Military personnel, men to busy with staying alive than to conjure up Ghosts stories of things which are caught upon Star –Light (Night Vision optics) that are not seen upon the Inferred equipment, because there is no heat or warmth within them, but yet, there they are, and it has scared soldiers so badly that have broken down and begged for a transfer from their post they are guarding at night, and day out in those vast deserts..

    Back to Humboldt squid, which now hunt just off our Western states Pacific shores as the Sea currents are now warmer and they’ve migrated up from off of Patagonia and Peru, they are not, the allusive Giant Squid (well let me stop here and State, there is a very interesting ‘Ted’s Talk’ by Marine Biologist Edith Widder’ who starts the talk about”‘How we found the Giant Squid” (video Images of it), with the only difference between a ‘Fairy tale’ and a ‘Sea Story’ is that a fairy tale starts out with: ‘Once upon a time’ and a sea story starts out with: “This Ain’t no shit!”

    ‘Archhiteucthis’ (Finally filmed as Marine Biologist ‘ Edith Widder’ lured them in up close to a huge giant submersible sub, states’ ‘It was as big as a two story house” (It’s quite an Impressive short Video), is a very real and very frightening sea creature, it is out there and it as well as ‘Rip –Tides’(Under towing Ocean currents that carry even the strongest swimmer under and out to sea, keep me out of the sea, where as a teenager, I use to free dive off of California’s Catalina Island, swimming the bays and kelp beds in (Great white territory), I never saw a Great white, but I have seen human remains of those who have.

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    • You’ve seen human remains in the ocean? Euw. That must have been so frightening for your daughter and you. Those entities showing up with the use of Night Vision Goggles makes me want to invest in a pair. I wonder what’s lurking in my neighborhood…
      I’m not sure that I believe a giant squid came that close to shore, but there are all kinds of creatures out at feeding times. That’s when I used to fish. I would stay away at dusk and dawn. I checked out old Nessie and went through the museum. I went in somewhat of a believer and walked out realizing it was the most brilliant marketing scheme ever. I will always have a great respect for the sea, however. Anything is possible!

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      • Susie, I have come upon ever worse that remains as a teenager, a group of teens trapped in their just crashed Chevy Monte Carlo’ they awoke when the fire erupted, and their was nothing I could do to get them out of that burning car. it got way to hot, and I will never forget their panicked screams, as they tried braking out the rear window with their fists. The plume of thick suety acrid smoke rising high into the sky was just as horrid as their desperate screams. They all died within. its something I can never forget.

        Nessie like creatures have been witness up and down both Western and Eastern American Coasts. We have had a few sighting here. The most frightening stories of Desert Ghouls, can be read upon Mysterious Universe. Type in to that sites top search bar – Bizarre Paranormal Encounters in the War in Afghanistan by Author Brent Swancer – I know the Ghost story of the Little Girl and her goat were true as I remember hearing it told by The Soldier himself upon a public morning news show, a few years back. Yes Star – light Night vision have picked up Incorporeal entities, that reside here upon this earth plane. I have a personal interest in such, and have been searching them out ever sense I was 4, in 1963’ an encounter within our bedroom, it was intently watching my six year old sister sleeping with her bed.

        I awoke and my screams interrupted ‘it’. At age of eight when I learned how to read, I have been searching books and the internet for over half a century. Right now for the past four or five months there has been a lot of singular and group sightings of a winged ‘Being’ creature they deem ‘Moth man’ the same or same type of winged creature that plagued Point Pleasant, back in the mid 1960’s right when the Bridge collapsed killing many. This one is being witnessed upon the Sears tower and in that general area. It’s hot topic, event, and eyewitness are calling it in. That can be read about upon ‘Phantoms & Monsters’.

        ‘I have spent many nights for the past three years studying Sasquatch and Dogman cases. Check out, Vic Cundiff’s Dogman Encounters, each Friday night, he airs a new podcast with a new eyewitness / victim, I have been on Y tube every Friday night for 157 Dogman encounter episodes. Frightening stuff Susie. Aside from Vic’s Podcasts, as he is a very polite well manners and educated Host, he listens very well, does not interrupt the eyewitness calling their encounters in, and I have to say Vic Podcast is number one, he is a highly respected man. But not allow for me to say there is a lot of BS out there, especially in the ‘Bigfoot Podcast communities, so you need to take into account that each ‘host’ has an agenda’, and some say a whole of BS and redundant nothing. So you need to listen and discern for yourself what is BS or not, as well as who is the most honest and professional host. I do not even bother with many, because I take my research in these topic matter very seriously.

        Also while there on that site – check out and read the horrific case of ‘Joao Prestes Filho’ – The Melting Man of The Araçariguama Incident –

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        • Here is some more information for your area. I am not sure if you want to know of this Case report, but if you reside in Boulder, Co, then you’re only 29 miles from where a very terrifying encounter occurred. The eyewitness / Victim hold a high profile within the community or publicly here stated so he demands he stays as anonymous. It was quite a frightening ordeal for him, the way the creatures sounded when he first because aware of something odd, like the sound of fast moving clacking hooves rapidly approaching upon the asphalt or concrete street and driveway. How he just managed to step aside in movement when the creature rushed towards him a great speed and missed grasping him up in its human like arms. It left him very frightened. It’s still out there, as this encounter / attack happened and the researcher contacted for request to help and to get the information and alert out. It was posted upon ‘Phantoms and Monsters’ ‘Update: Lakewood Lycan Investigation’ it was sent to the site host around mid March 2015, posted upon Thursday, July 02, 2015. Type in (Update: Lakewood Lycan Investigation). That will get you to the Phantoms and Monsters Page where you can read the encounter.

          Quote: > “It hit he ground right behind us and exactly behind where I had just been. That’s where I got good light on it. It was still moving so fast. It touched down and immediately stood back up while running. It’s head was lower than mine but still quite tall. Over 5 feet. It was not standing totally erect like a person so it was probably even taller and it was also still running. I barely looked down on its face and I’m 5’10. It hit the ground with enough weight that I felt it’s weight vibrate through my feet as well as the first couple of heavy steps it took as it passed me. The extra skin (wings possible?) made it very hard to judge weight but the body was large.

          It was almost coal black. To the point that the main body almost seemed to absorb my flashlight beam as it ran off. Like a matte black. As it stood up the legs seemed to be backwards jointed like a dog. Some of the only color I saw on it was a bit of brown running down the legs. Picture Doberman coloring.” < .

          that's the encounter story to read.

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  7. I love this! I also watch shark week from start to finish and look forward to it every year. I don’t surf, or swim much in the ocean, so I guess it really doesn’t affect me from a fear point of view. I do rock climb and that has generated many, many comments from others about the fear of falling to one’s death. It is true that we have lost many (very talented and safe) climber to slides, avalanches and the unfortunate loss of concentration for the briefest of moments. But, just like a surfer accepting the chance encounter with a shark, we accept that there is an inherent danger in our sport. I know I would be safer on the ground, but I would not be happier without this challenge in my life!
    Thanks for sharing this post 🙂

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    • I love your comparison to rock climbing. I’m a skier, so I take on extra risk in participating too.
      Sharks are super cool creatures. I watched a program the other night where one called, “Scar,” followed them like a lost puppy. Loved it! There is something about the human psyche that seems to like being afraid. It’s why horror and thrillers are so popular.
      Have you seen Sharknado? I gotta believe it’s ridiculous. Ha!

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  8. When I was a kid and “Jaws” was out on first release, my parents forbad me to see it on the basis that it would likely make me too frightened to swim in the ocean again. I still haven’t seen it… and I kept swimming in the ocean, but that didn’t save me from wondering, back then, whether every next wave might also be carrying 10 tons of tooth-laden death. They’re actually fairly rare around New Zealand waters; there was another time I was swimming off Queensland’s coast, where sharks (and shark attacks) are common, but I didn’t see any.

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    • IT IS SUCH A GREAT MOVIE, MATT! You have to see it. I’ve watched it several times. The show really focuses on one super psycho fish. I would guess we could compare it to a serial killer, although I don’t know of any series of shark attacks like it. A great film to enjoy with lots of popcorn.
      The ocean depths can be scary like that. I’m not sure if you have #SharkWeek in NZ, but it is super cool how the scientists get right into the water with them.
      I’m not sure I’d be up for a night dive when it’s feeding time….

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m afraid of heights which means no hang-gliding for me! I love swimming in the ocean so I figure the sharks will just have to share the water with me otherwise I’ll have to whack them on the snout. (oh yeah – that would frighten them)

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    • I’ve actually heard of people doing that Jan! One whack and they take off. I hope to never have a close encounter of the shark kind. Ha!
      I can understand your fear of heights. I used to have a fear of speaking to a group of people until recently. Now I ask questions whenever I think of them at conferences even with a mike. But I still haven’t been a “guest speaker.” It’s on my bucket list! Yikes!

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  10. I have never and will never try surfing because I KNOW I’d be useless. It’s cool that you’re already so successful at it. Safe surfing!

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  11. I am absolutely terrified of sharks. And, well, basically of water that moves waves!) So, after marrying into a water-sports-insisting family with a house right on the beach, I took up windsurfing. It’s the one water sport I could find (and master, I’m proud to say) where the whole point is NOT to be in the water.

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    • Wow! I would love to windsurf! I tried when on my honeymoon and pointed the board right out to sea! Good thing I got rescued by a watchful lifeguard in a boat. In my defense, the crossbow thingy was above my head. That’s laid back Jamaica for you. “You’ll be alright, mon. Just grab a hold.”

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve never seen a shark up close swimming but I have been near to a barracuda and that was exciting too! Glad you didn’t end up coming face to face with the great white but as you say it is very unlikely statistically, that knock by another surfer is far more likely!

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  13. Hi Susie! I grew up in Southern California, so am friendly with the surfer culture, though never one myself. I’m with you–it wasn’t the sharks so much as it was the crowds in the water. I’ve been sucked under a riptide once and happy to have a lifeguard rescue me! When I was a child, my babysitter told me sharks lived in the light in our swimming pool, so I should stay out of the deep end at night because . . . you never know. Now, I knew there weren’t sharks in there. That just makes no sense. BUT, was it possible, just possible that she was right? After all, she was a teenager and I wasn’t even allowed to cut my own steak. To this day, I don’t swim in the deep end after dark. 🙂

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  14. I’ve never learned to surf, probably because I didn’t have access to the big waves. You’re spot on about the car accident/shark attack comparison, though. My hubby talks about it all the time. 🙂

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  15. Duuuuuuuude so glad you tried it out with your son! So that was your quick getaway huh? Sounds like an awesome adventure! I’m glad you were ok though …. Getting swept under by waves or other surfers is definitely worrisome! Happy Shark Week ending 🙂

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    • It was! I thought about you the whole time we were in LA! With Kelly finished with school, we were able to spend all our time with him.
      I had bought a basic surfing book the day before and flipped through it. Glad I did. I covered my head as a result and still got clunked. Funny thing. I didn’t feel any of the bruises except for the one on my foot. That freaked me out! I was so relieved. I’d definitely go without fear again, but would really check out who was around me at all times!
      Have you surfed recently?

      Like

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