|Please don't eat my shorts, Cont'd|
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As my mental argument continued to unfold, the realization of what was really happening started to leak in.|
Once you get the certainty that what you are seeing is real, you tend to get very rational about your immediate needs. In my case I changed from a confused floating twit into Super Dad. The situation was now obvious and I had to come up with a plan to get out of the water post-haste.
Ok, so I reviewed my options: there was apparently a shark about the size of a 20-foot fishing boat looking for food in 3.5 feet of water. It was between me and my wife and child, who were splashing around like a bunch of seals in the shallows, and I essentually had 65 lbs of Shark food hanging on to my back. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I *was* swimming in my own urine at that point.
"For about a minute things started to look up for Ocean Man and Bait Boy."
"Get out of the water!", I yelled, knowing they could not hear me.
"Daddy, what's that?", asked the boy as he pointed at the animated fin.
"Um, I don't know son." I lied to him because there was no time to explain, and I was still not certain that I was dealing with reality. I continued to stare at the large fin. Watching it move around, I was able to deduce that whatever was connected to that fin, it was very large and able to move very fast. My thoughts were on trying to remain perfectly still. If me and bait-boy can keep still, the fin won't think we are food and come over to check us out.
I was still next to the Jetty, with the fin between me and the shore. The only obviously clear exit would have been to go to deeper water, or grab a rope and try to climb onto the Jetty. Both options seemed bad and I continued to just stand there.
A few seconds later, my wife spotted the fin and got herself and my daughter out of the water very quickly.
For a moment I was relived - my wife and child were safe. But then I realized that the worst of the situation had not passed - I was still in the water holding bait-boy and the only way back to the shoreline was to go through the fin. Also, it dawned on me that if my wife had seen the fin and evacuated the water, that the fin was not a figment of my imagination and that this possible shark-attack may be real, and be happening to me! Desperation started to sink in as I realized that I wanted to try to run on top of the water.
I turned towards the Jetty and started to walk towards it. If we could get on the Jetty we could get out of the water and away from that large fin, but it was not to be.
With the 4 feet of water and another 5 feet to the top of the Jetty, there was no obvious way to get up and out of the water. I tried anyway while my son held on to my back very confused about what was going on.
I could not get on the Jetty no matter how I tried, but in the time I took to try to climb the Jetty I realized I had taken my eyes off of the prize. I looked back to see where the fin was and I could find no trace of it.
Once again paralyzed with fear I just stood there scanning the water with Shark food on my back.
My fears started to subside as the minutes passed. There was no sign of the ominous fin anywhere in the water. Maybe we dodged a bullet on this, I thought.
My wife and daughter started to yell and wave thier arms. I could not hear them, but I knew exactly what they were trying to warn me about. Still unable to find the large fin, I decided to head back to the beach.
I told the boy to hang on for a rough ride, and then started towards the beach, walking as fast as I could go. For about a minute things started to look up for Ocean Man and Bait Boy - the fin had not popped up anywhere and I was moving along pretty well. I had gotten about 1/3rd of the way back to the shore when I found the fin had not left.
About 50 feet away there was a small cloud of fish that breached the water, and a second later the fin also popped out behind them. Based on its previous location, the fin had taken a 180-degree turn and was now essentially coming right towards me. I assumed that my walking in the water caught its attention, and it was homing in on its next meal.
I stood perfectly still and whispered to my son to keep absolutely quiet. Two more seconds passed and the fin went below the surface and disappeared. The water was a cloudy brown color from the moving surf and the high winds. I knew that the fin could get very close to me before I would be able to see it in the water, but I decided to bolt for the shoreline anyhow.
As I trudged towards the shore most of the scenes from the Jaws movies flashed through my head. I was beginning to think that at best I could keep the animal busy while I got the boy to land, but other than that, this was about to be my last vacation.
I started to wonder what the level of pain would be. Would I bleed to death or drown? What would happen to my family if they had to watch Dad wrestling with a large shark? Was there a Shark clause in my life insurance? How would my wife get the keys to the truck out from my pocket if it was in the belly of a shark?
So many questions, so little time.
It seemed like a month, but I was almost back to the shore. I would look towards the shore quickly and then take a few steps as I carefully watched for signs of the fin behind me. I kept expecting to see something in the water, but fortunately it never happened.
When I got back to the shore my wife and daughter were visibly upset. My son was still unaware of what had happened, but when my daughter started to explain it to him, he became very upset as well. I tried to be calm and assure them that their was no danger.
Without delay, we loaded into the truck and headed back to the Hotel. The kids talked about the giant fin the whole way back and I just kept running the whole scene through my head over and over again. I could not believe we were alive and still could not believe that the event actually happened.
At a later date I determined that we probably had not been in danger of a shark attack.
On the same weekend we were vacationing a number of Killer Whales had been spotted in the bay. This did not happen often, but it was not impossible either. I deduced that the animal was one of the whales when it dawned on me that I had only seen a fin. The tail of a shark is vertical, like that of most fish. If a dorsal fin sticks out of the water over 3 feet, a sharks tail would also stick out a few feet as well. It was clear to me that I had only seen a fin, and therefore the animal proabably had a horizontal tail fin - much like a dolphin or a killer whale.
I still tell myself it was a whale to this day.
Yep, in fear I added 5 fluid gallons to the Gulf of Mexico because of a whale.