It’s always reassuring to hear the shark-spotting plane or helicopter passing overhead. Hearing it today reminded me that I hadn’t swam for several days as the weather had been cool and windy, but now the summer heat is on.
I had just entered the water and was busy acclimatising as the helicopter passed again. Seconds later, and before I could plunge in fully, the surf lifesaving dingy was hurtling towards me from the next beach down the coast.
“How’s it going, mate?” the standard Aussie greeting from the lifesavers. No hint of any unseen menace.
“Yep, all good thanks.”
“You might be interested to know there were a couple of shark sightings about six hundred metres out. We headed them away.” Spoken casually, as if they were telling me some trivial piece of information.
They didn’t tell me to leave the water and it was probably over-cautious, but they had sped across the bay to warn me, so it seemed a good idea to abandon the swim and restrict my exposure to liquid that day to the inside of a beer glass instead.
Do we really need a word for the fear of something so universally terrifying?
Living on the gulf rather than the ocean proper, we don’t have too many sightings, but there have been a few recently, mainly bronze whalers who usually prefer deeper waters. These can grow to three metres, and although usually they might not eat you, they are not especially friendly (and not welcome near my beach). Now with summer upon us, dipping in the ocean is one way to cope with extreme heat- just not so good regarding extreme eat.
Galeophobia? Yes it was a new word for me too, but do we really need a word for the (quite natural) fear of something so universally terrifying? Is anyone not a galeophobe to some degree?
For up to date information on shark sightings see: https://www.facebook.com/Shark-Alerts-South-Australia-532506756862271/