Nightmare to Reality

Confirmation bias, or just confirmation?

Mackerel Cove - 2018

The apex predator of the sea has been evolving for over 16 million years – by contrast, early humans first walked upright a mere 3.6 million years ago. Found in the coastal waters of all major oceans he is notable for his size, with weight over two tons, and length averaging 11-16 feet, over 20 ft in larger members. He can swim at speeds of 25 miles per hour and descend to depths of 3,900 feet.

This killing machine has rows of jagged two-and-a-half inch teeth. An opportunistic ambush predator, he greets his pray with an initial devastating attack. An attack from below can launch his bulk up to 10 feet into the air. Highly developed senses then detect the electromagnetic field given off by the dying victim’s heartbeat.

He has no known natural predators, and is responsible for the greatest number of both bites and fatal unprovoked attacks on humans.

This is the Great White Shark…

Jocelyn and I have been coming up to Maine for well over 10 years. Our kids have been up here for at least two weeks every summer since they were born. We stay in Harpswell on a beautiful cove. When we are not out sightseeing, our go-to activities are bobbing around off the float, playing in the surf at Land’s End, or swimming at Mackerel Cove. It’s nice now that the kids are a little older – they are fine in the surf, and will gladly wear life jackets in deep water.

Getting After It at Mackerel Cove
Getting After It at Mackerel Cove

Earlier in July I wrote that I rarely go into the water. I noted my fear of the ocean and how that fear was, I believe, the result of seeing the movie Jaws way too young. I know it’s irrational – and I have tried not to project this fear onto my kids or Joce. If they want to go in the water – no problem!

Then …

Great White Shark kills Maine swimmer in rare attack

Summer resident killed by great white in Maine's first fatal shark attack

NYC woman swimming becomes victim of Maine's fist fatal shark attack

Julie Dimperio Holowach was swimming with her daughter in Mackerel Cove off Bailey Island in Harpswell about 3:26 p.m. Monday, July 27 when she was attacked. We frequently swim at Mackerel Cove. Bailey Island is just down the chain from where we stay and swim almost daily. Once we heard the news, and for the last four days of our stay, we would not let the kids in the water.

Shark attacks are very rare. Fatal attacks even more so. However, this strikes too close to home for me. Knowing the power of confirmation bias has not lessened my fear. It will be with great trepidation that I let them in the water next year.

The Holowach family remains in our prayers.