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August 2018 by V. R. Duin


As the strange procession neared shore
There was heard a frightened roar.
“That's no dolphin towing the craft.
Out of the water! Leave your raft!”
(Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up)

Reunion Island sharks do not bring the shark attack reading fun to Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up, but this anti-bullying book for children may help solve the Reunion Island shark problem.

Attacks are rare. Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up serves in defense of sharks. It takes kids from fear to fascination. Few fish are as feared. No other fish has earned a week of celebration.

Sharks in Reunion Island are less risky than other dangers. The Florida Museum of Natural History breaks down The Odds of a Shark Attack Compared to Other Risks. Isolated events put all sharks under assault.

Animals named for places and people get stereotyped. Fanatics annihilate Reunion Island sharks and Adolf Hitler beetles. Few creatures earn dreadful reputations for surplus killing. Most sacrifices are made for survival.

Sharks receive bad press. Facts and team-building can change their woeful images and scary reputations. Stingrays are perilous when someone grabs, blocks or steps on them. No excuses are accorded for predatory behaviors.

Problems with a few specimens are blown out of proportion. Visuals may facilitate these negative associations. At PNAS, there are discussions of Human Development of the Ability to Learn from Bad News.

Danger may not seem real. A child, who has never seen sharks, may feel no fear. A child, who has seen a film or a picture of a shark-induced death or injury, may not want to go near the ocean. Adults may avoid hot-spots.

It is not fun to read about scary sharks. They give people good reasons to swim at guarded beaches and stay out of the water at dawn, dusk or night. Perhaps it is time to print Little Ray's books in French.

Sightings involve seeing without harm. Readers don't face sun damage. There is no need for sunscreen, special clothing or sunglasses for UV light. Reading can be done inside or in shade.

Arriving sharks can be seen from shore. Sightings usually allow beach-goers an opportunity to exit the ocean. Shark and Little Ray work together to get stranded boaters out of the water and safely back to shore.

Tourism suffers with incursions. Guards rescue swimmers and waders in shallow water. It is hard to safeguard surfers in deep wave spots. Swimming bans, updated signs, detection tools and expert spotters give warning.

Shark encounter involves contact with sporting equipment. No people are touched. Little Ray's friend takes nips from objects. The unexpected experience proves natural enemies can coexist. People need to change.

Most encounters end well. Millions of sharks die for the ten or so people they kill in the world yearly. Mass shark killings for sport and for the fin trade threaten entire species of this fish family with extinction.

Sharks are in troubled waters. Visit Elasmodiver's Shark Blog for Unexpected Encounters. Great White Sharks, Tiger Sharks and Bull Sharks are leading suspects. Incidents often involve these apex hunters.

With bites, nobody dies. Their teeth may be tougher and sharper, but their grip on people is rarely persistent. Reunion Island surfing sharks gained infamy for frequent, vicious aggression. Economic fallout followed.

Tiny species make nasty wounds. Sharks should be kept in sight. They are known to circle. They spin their bodies to come from behind or below. Unaware victims may be sampled. Sharks often reject people as foodstuff.

Nets offer low-cost control. Electric, acoustical and magnetic repellents have not proven effective. Shark exclusion barriers bulwark swimmers in small areas. Scuba divers use cages and weapons for protection.

No-kill drumline trials are under way in Australia. The goal is to lure, capture, tag and move this predator to unpopulated areas. Previous drum lines were not monitored. Baited catches died when hooked by traditional systems.

Deadly shark attack has clear meaning. Books and movies typically feature tragic outcomes. These may have led to revenge killings. People seek adventure, excitement and equip for unfair advantage to appear brave.

Thrills can end poorly. Size and speed offer advantages in battles. Sharks are the largest predatory fish in the world. Mass puts greater energy behind their jaws. Sharks can weigh ten times the weight of a person.

Some species seem to have no sense of pain. They perpetuate feeding frenzies when injured. Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea notes that Carcharhinid Sharks, or requiem sharks, are among them.

Surfers may get in the way. It is common for sharks to taste test objects, like boats and surfboards. They are unlikely to put up with nonsense. They regularly dine on stingrays and barracudas. Nothing seems to frighten them.

Surfing gets attention. Splashing from paddling surf boards to surfing areas and falls into shark-infested waters may entice them. Fortunately, these bold animals of prey may not waste energy on troublesome catches.

Safety tips: Calmly leave the water or form a tight group. Hitting an advancing shark with an object or punching it in the eyes, gills or snout may deter further onslaught. Lacerations may result from sharkskin contact.

The United States, South Africa and Australia top shark-problem charts. Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida publishes a Yearly Worldwide Shark Attack Summary. Reunion Island is listed.

Fish are creatures of habit. They return to feeding areas and follow routines. Their responses are automatic and instinctual. Aggression may be provoked by outside activities. Attacks may not be food-related goals.

CITES protects wild flora and fauna. It pledges increased shark and ray policing. It holds World Wildlife Day for global, public awareness. Human-shark encounters are spurring governments and individuals to action.

Large fish may be safer. Adult sharks weigh from under one pound to many tons. Thailand is home to mega-sized rays and sharks. Whale sharks rank as the world's largest fish. They do not bite.

Spine-chilling species of the deep deserve acknowledgment. The goblin shark, the demon catshark, the frilled shark and the humongous blunt nose six-gill shark are rarely-seen menaces with punishing combat capabilities.

Giant Manta Rays dwarf humans. They have no teeth. Sucking parts filter food particles. No count is available for giant oceanic manta rays remaining in the wild. They are threatened by gill plate harvest.

The words to the unpredictable blitz in the following video are: “Join with the best and respect the rest. We never know how things will go.” Illustrations and ideas are from the children's book. (34 seconds)