Cocoa Beach, FL is my home away from home. I’ve spent almost every vacation there and I’ve opted to take trips there on my own, even when I wasn’t with my family. The only time I’ve ever seen a shark near Cocoa Beach was when someone caught a baby Bonnet Head shark in the surf off the beach. It wasn’t even a foot long, so I wasn’t too worried.
Going into the water, it always crosses your mind what would happen if a shark did come into contact with you. I think anyone who ever says that they weren’t afraid of a shark attack at one point in their life is lying. But being as I’ve never seen a shark in the water at Cocoa Beach and I’ve never heard of a shark attack happening there, I just wasn’t really that afraid… until today.
A 16 year old young man from Texas was attacked at Cocoa Beach yesterday around 5pm by what is believed to be a 6ft bull shark… aka the most aggressive shark there is. It’s honestly stunning to me to think that my favorite little beach town could be the scene of something like this. Shark attacks were always so far removed from me, and were always something I kind of brushed off until I heard about this. The fact that someplace I go regularly was the place of horror for a family fills me with so much grief. I learned to love the ocean at this beach, and this beach might’ve just became nightmare fuel for the family of this boy.
The boy is fine. He went to the hospital, got some stitches, and the family is continuing on with their vacation– though one of their sons will be finishing that vacation in a wheel chair. I hope that he can find it in his heart to get back in the ocean, knowing that this was just a fluke accident.
I’m hoping that Cocoa Beach citizens will not create a witch hunt, and go searching for the shark that did this. So often, we see people want to retaliate against a shark after an attack. This is arbitrary and plain wrong. I think so often people want to personify animals, and give them people traits. Beach goers want to say that sharks are evil and attack people on purpose. From the evidence I’ve seen, that just isn’t true. I believe it’s a case of mistaken identity or dealing with a very aggressive and territorial species, like a bull shark. If sharks were purposefully looking for people to eat, wouldn’t there be a lot more attacks? Consider how many people go into the ocean each day. If a shark was hungry for human flesh, they would basically have an open bar, so to speak. If you went for a run through the African Sahara and got attacked by a lion, I don’t think anyone would want to kill the lion. They’d tell you that you were asking for it. So why when people go swimming through the ocean, the shark’s environment, and get attacked, do people want to kill the sharks for just doing what their instincts taught them to do?
Every time a shark attack happens, I feel terrible for the victim. The ocean is where I can find peace and I hate knowing that for someone, it goes from a peaceful place to a vast openness of terror. But I also feel bad for the sharks. This will once again give them a bad rep, and they’ll be hunted over and over again until there’s none left.