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Do great white sharks hate kayaks?

July 09, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • In the blue kayak at left, Walter Szulc Jr. paddles away from an approaching shark, whose dorsal fin is visible above water. The encounter Saturday occurred at Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass., in Cape Cod.
In the blue kayak at left, Walter Szulc Jr. paddles away from an approaching… (Shelly Negrotti / Associated…)

Who says California is more laid-back than the East Coast? Just take a look at the sharks cruising off the respective coasts.

Over the weekend, a  great white shark guesstimated at 14 to 18 feet attacked a fisherman’s kayak off Santa Cruz, biting the front end and throwing the man into the water.  He was rescued unharmed but with quite a story to tell.

That same day in the waters off Cape Cod, another great white -- estimated at 12 to 14 feet (are you sensing a pattern here?) -- cruised up to a man in a kayak.  But there was no chomping of plastic.  No tossing anyone into the water.  Just a lot of excitement from beachgoers.

So clearly, in this modern-day “West Side Story,”  our sharks are much tougher than their sharks.

But the bigger question might be:  Why do sharks hate kayaks?

I think the government needs to fund some research into this. It wouldn’t cost that much, and it could be a job creator.  Buy a few kayaks at Sport Chalet, recruit a few volunteers (teenagers need summer jobs, after all) and haul them down to the beach. Have them paddle around. When a shark shows up, observe what happens.

(Oh, and make sure the volunteers have smartphones so they can record videos of any attacks.  Also make sure the volunteers sign over all rights to said videos to the researchers.  I saw “Endless Summer.” There are big bucks in low-budget filmmaking if the subject matter is enticing enough.)

Something I’ve noticed -- and modesty aside, I’m a bit of a shark expert, having seen “Jaws” several times -- is that the kayak in the Santa Cruz attack was yellow, while the one that wasn't attacked off Cape Cod was blue.  Clearly researchers will need to buy both colors; straws can be drawn by the volunteers to determine who gets the yellow kayaks.

Finally -- in true liberal nanny-state style, but with a Republican twist -- I want our lawmakers to step up to the plate.  We need protection from these deadly toothy fish.

So why not take a page out of North Carolina’s playbook and have the Legislature pass a law forbidding shark attacks in the waters off California?

Also, suspend the sale of kayaks until we find out why sharks hate them.

At least the yellow ones.

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