Sharks — by sea & land
SEA ISLE, N.J.
What's really a bad deal is to be careful all year — no accelerating 0-to-60 mph in 2.7 seconds, no stopping at taverns in the city's worst war zones for a beer — and then come to the ocean and right away get chomped in half by a great white shark.
A few days ago, three nearby fishermen videotaped a 16-foot great white circling their 28-foot boat for 10 minutes and then taking a few departing bites at the hull before swimming off.
Just north of Atlantic City, the fishermen started their trip in Little Egg Harbor, and the massive shark came upon their boat about 30 miles southeast of Atlantic City.
We're 31 miles south of Atlantic City on Sea Isle's beach, so this shark video was basically shot in our front yard.
Great whites have a top cruising speed of 25 mph, so even if this encounter was a few miles out to sea, this 16-footer was just a shot away from where we ride waves and stand waist-deep in the surf, casting for striped bass.
A few days earlier, a 303-pound mako shark shocked two fishermen by turning itself into a 9-foot torpedo and leaping into the bow of their small boat in the waters off Manasquan, about 85 miles north of Sea Isle.
“I reeled up our deep rod and felt him eat the bait,” explained one of the fishermen on TV. “As soon as he felt the hook, he shot 15 feet in the air in a double somersault.”
The mako performed four jumps, each one closer to the boat, as he was being reeled in. On the fourth leap, the shark landed two feet from the boat and soaked the anglers in a wave of water.
Then it circled the boat, dived and shot out of the water and landed in the boat on its fifth jump.
“At first we were in shock when he was in the boat,” explained one of the fishermen. “Then he started thrashing and we were like, ‘Oh my God, we have a problem. This thing is going to eat us.' ”
What the shark did eat on the boat in the two hours before it died was two broomsticks and the boat's speakers and cushions.
Makos, the fastest species of shark, have been clocked at speeds of 50 mph, so this particular shark was relatively close by, near enough to leave the Manasquan waters during the morning rush hour and be at our beach in no time for a quick breakfast of seals or porpoises — or us.
More sharks are in the Jersey waters this year because of what the news reports say is “an explosion of the gray seal population.”
So the trick to lower the probability of being mistaken for a seal and bitten in half is not to swim like a seal in a gray wet suit — and especially not to paddle around on your stomach on a surfboard. Looking up from underneath, like a shark, a person on a surfboard splashing around looks very much like a tasty seal.
Or to be really safe, it's better just to sit on a blanket under an umbrella with a good book and a high-caliber spear gun.
In other shark news, Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS employee in charge of the tax-exemption division that targeted tea party, evangelical and pro-Israel groups, got $103,390 in bonuses from 2009 to 2012.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (firstname.lastname@example.org).