I watched The Reef last night, a movie, based on a true story apparently, about a sailing trip that goes wrong. Somewhere in the Whitsundays a yacht hits a underwater reef, has its keel ripped off, and flips over. All on board survive, but sitting on the upturned hull of the yacht must decide what to do next. All but one decide to try and swim to the nearest island.
Dramatic enough, but there’s no movie like this without a bit of terror thrown in. The terror in this case comes in the predictable shape of a shark stalking them from underneath, and picking them off one by one. Of the four that set off only one survives, and the boat with the lone survivor never seen again.
Sharks are spooky. I figure they’re just about the scariest beastie going around. There’s a lot of elements in that. A lot of it is the fact that for the most part you don’t know where they are. They lurk unseen in the dark depths of the sea, looming as large in imagination as they do in fact. The sheer fact of their existence introduces an element of psychological disturbance unlike other creatures of the wild. Sure, a fin cutting through the water is enough to scare the bejesus out of anybody, but it’s when you can’t see the fin is when you really have to worry.
You’re in their territory. They’re the boss, and whatever makes you kingpin on land is negated.
The other thing I reckon spooks people is the mindless ferocity of sharks. Those beady eyes, that ancient instinct to kill, that ruthless rending of flesh when they attack, and the plumes of blood that accompany it. You get taken, you get eaten, big chunks of you turned into so many pieces of meat. What chance have you?
All this occurred to me last night as I watched my umpteenth shark movie, and then today I hear of this latest shark attack. It’s a gruesome story, some poor surfer out enjoying the waves and getting the bottom half of his body bitten off. What terror he must have felt while he still lived. And what horror for his friends as they dragged him from the water, a horror I’m sure they’ll re-live for the rest of their lives.
Goes to show. Can’t live in fear, but attacks like this are regular enough to prove that anything can happen.
- Man dies after Australian shark attack (cbsnews.com)
- Bodyboarder killed in shark attack (independent.co.uk)
- Shark attack witness tells of mauling horror – Sydney Morning Herald (news.google.com)