Senior Editor
A photo of the shark from a helicopter. It's estimated to be 23 feet long.

A photo of the shark from a helicopter. It’s estimated to be 23 feet long. Photo: Shark Alerts SA

The Inertia

Steven Spielberg and Peter Benchley really screwed things up for sharks. Back in the mid-70s when Jaws hit theaters, they accidentally started a pandemonium that would last until present day–granted, sharks were always pretty scary, but those two really kicked off a movement.  Now we just kill them first and ask questions later, which is, to put it mildly, really fucking dumb. Fake Jaws was 25 feet. Real Deep Blue (that giant great white found off Baja, Mexico) is 21 feet. And guess what? A South Australian group just recorded a great white measuring an estimated 23 feet.

On Sunday afternoon, Surf Lifesavers were patrolling an area just south of Adelaide. Less than a mile away, a children’s surf carnival was happening, with over 1000 people in the water. Of course, the shark had no idea, and just happened to be passing by, but Steven Spielberg made a movie about almost that exact situation, and that time it didn’t turn out too well. The Lifesavers sounded the alarm, calling the shark “unusually large”, and the event was cancelled. The beach was manned with boats, jetskis, and a helicopter, and the shark swam out to deeper water, which was probably pretty lucky for it, given our tendency to kill the things for being in the wrong place. “It’s the biggest I’ve ever seen as a crew member in the Westpac chopper,” wrote a crew member on Shark Alert’s Facebook page. “We put it down as 7m the photo really doesn’t do it justice.”

Large sharks aren’t uncommon in the area, but this time of year, apparently, usually sees an increase in sightings. “While there is no evidence at this time that there is any greater risk than in previous years,” said Surf Life Saving chief executive Clare Harris, “Surf Life Saving SA in consultation with officers from SA Police and PIRSA Fishwatch, encourage everyone using the water to be aware that there are large schools of fish moving through our waters at this time of year and therefore the chance that a shark may be following these is possible.”


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