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 I still remember, from the last time I immersed my feet into the Gulf of Maine waters, the ocean’s bone numbing quality. As a kid, growing up on the coast, my siblings and I would swim every day. All the kids did. Our parents would often say: “Remember kids – if your lips or hands start turning blue you’ll have to get out of the water for a while. What we didn’t know at the time was that our parents were describing e early signs of hypothermia! It says something that even on a beautiful June afternoon, the waters off Maine can still cause on-set hypothermia.
I was thinking of all this the other day as I sat drinking designer coffee down at the store and Harold – one of our town’s certified know-it-alls started in about recent shark sightings off the Maine coast. I was glad for the change of topic feeling that the store’s resident scholars had just about talked it to death.
Sid Davis, who had been sitting quietly in a booth, nursing his fifteenth refill and was ready to ask for another warm-up, challenged Harold’s statements, saying Maine waters were much too cold for sharks, which makes them better suited for things like lobsters and crabs. Harold said in case Carlton hadn’t noticed our waters were getting warmer what with all the business about global warming and climate change.
I remember years ago there was talk about shark sightings and the warming ocean waters. At that time I remember thinking that no water I’d been swimming in felt like it was warming up. And like I said before, the last time I checked, our ocean waters still felt pretty cold to me.
It’s always amused me the way people – even people here in Maine – get all worked up about sharks and the supposed danger they pose to all living things on the coast.
I suppose if I lived in Florida and spent and spent a lot of time in the ocean down there I could get worked up about shark sightings and the possibility of shark attacks. But I can’t get too worked up about it living here in Maine.
At last count, sharks have 6,533,384,576 people here on Earth to choose from when they feel the uncontrollable urge to munch on someone of the human persuasion. Yet only about 75 individuals – of all those billions and billions are attacked each year by sharks. Of those 75 unlucky individuals only about 8 receive fatal wounds.
I know I wouldn’t feel good about such low numbers of attacks and fatalities if I was one of the 75 people attacked by a shark, but those who keep track of those numbers say more of our fellow earthlings are killed each year by elephants or bees or crocodiles or lightning strikes than sharks.
As far as I know, we don’t have many elephants or crocodiles here in Maine, but the next time I walk by a beehive or hear a loud clap of thunder, I’ll be nervous.

John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at mainestoryteller@yahoo.com or 899-1868.
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