Great White Sharks, uhm Lies
On Australian news you will regularily hear about encounters between sharks and surfers, more on the West than on the East coast. These encounters usually do not end well for the shark: it manages to bite off only small bits and pieces of the surfer himself, usually arms, shoulders or legs. The rest involves chewing of glass fibre.
Sort-of an encounter of the feed-th kind.
With that background, close encounter stories are quite credible among the surfer community and so are also pictures a professional photographer published onto a surfer website:
"We have blown this up and are pretty sure it is legitimate," ... General manager of Coastalwatch, Mark Morgan said about the picture.
Australian environmentalists would interpret the picture as showing how an aggressive surfer attacks an innocent looking great white. An Australian nationalist, however, would see it differently. He would regard the shark as being an economic refugee close to Australia's coast. Worse, the shark does not speak a single word English; no way he would get a working visa.
Abroad, pictures like these send shivers through the amateur surfer's spine. And he will think twice, or probably many times more, whether he will expose his expensive surfboard to such an ordeal.
Pictures like these are also not good news for Western Australia's tourism industry. They do not mind when surfers are disappearing without a trace, as long as they had prepaid the trip, of course. But they certainly would appreciate the stream of tourists not to cease.
But you all can relax now. Because it has emerged that it all was a prank:
Professional photographer Shane Chalker, a keen surfer, told The Sun-Herald yesterday that he spotted the board-rider and shark - five minutes and 500 metres apart - while a passenger in a microlight flying along Elim Beach, near Booti Booti. He took shots of both, then, as a lark, combined the images on his computer, making the shark look triple its size, before giving a print to a friend.
You noticed the 500 meter courtesy distance every shark will meticulously maintain for all times? Absolutely no risk involved! Come surfing! Today!
PS: Please join me in believing all and everything.