Family’s off swimming in the warm and placid waters of the inlet of an inlet from the harbor known as Oyster Pond. Most of the marine life there is harmless. Snails and quahogs rarely attack human beings. Moon jellies sting but people don’t feel it. Kind of embarrassing for the moon jellies, I expect.
Hermit crabs look and act ferocious but the ones we encounter at Oyster Pond are no bigger than dimes and when you let one scurry about in your hand it tickles.
Still, nature is red in t. and c., and all that, as Bertie Wooster might say, and our visits to Oyster Pond haven’t been entirely unfraught with danger, especially for young Ken Mannion, who once had his foot torn up by a razor clam determined to earn its name and was stung by a lion’s mane jellyfish that had drifted in closer to Cape shores than lion’s manes normally make it their business to drift.
Hurt like blazes.
Neither of these tangles with the wild has dampened his enthusiasm for going to that beach.
On the whole, though, he’d rather we always went to the ocean beaches. He likes the waves and he doesn’t mind the cold. Yesterday we spent the morning at Lighthouse Beach and Ken did what he has done since he was old enough to walk faster than the blonde and I could rein him in. He ran down the beach, marched straight into the surf, and threw himself headlong into the next oncoming wave.
Made the rest of our crew feel like cowards and wimps.
The water temperature was 60 degrees, but it could have been 55 or less. It has been 55 or less. Doesn’t daunt young Ken.
After swimming about for a while, he hauled himself out of the water and headed off down the beach to a point where the waves are higher and the seals are closer. He swam there until he’d tired himself out.
When he strode back to where we’d set up our chairs and spread out our towels and announced the number of seals he’d counted, he was met with the stern and earnest gaze of Uncle Merlin.
“You shouldn’t swim near the seals, Young Ken” Uncle Merlin said.
“I know. They bite. I don’t get close,” Ken said.
“Yes, but lately the sharks do.”
Wouldn’t say the news that sharks have been sighted off Lighthouse---one was tagged here last fall---ruined his day. But it got him thinking.
Didn’t do anything for his nerves---or mine---to get up this morning and read in the paper that the other night a great white was spotted off his other favorite ocean beach, Nauset Beach.
The sighting Sunday was about two miles south of the main bathing beach at Nauset Beach and two miles north of the inlet through the barrier beach that stretches into Chatham.
A spotter plane pilot looking for fish saw the shark chase seals into breaking surf, trap them against the shore and then attack them, said Chatham Harbor Master Stuart Smith. He talked yesterday to the pilot, as well as to Greg Skomal, a biologist and shark expert with the state Division of Marine Fisheries. The pilot last year worked with Skomal as a spotter.
We’re not about to pack up and go home, but word did come from Lighthouse Beach this morning that the Beach Patrol wasn’t letting anyone swim because of the fog, which I can’t help thinking is a problem because it gets in the patrol’s way when they’re watching for sharks.
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it here, but ever since I was a kid I’ve been convinced that I will die in one of two ways, either I’m going down in a plane crash or I’ll be eaten by sharks, which, if it happens this vacation, according to the newspaper, will make me the first victim of a shark attack in Massachusetts waters since 1936.
That person was “a fatality.”
For more shark news, read all of Susan Milton’s story in the Cape Cod Times and then follow these links:
And the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries has a website full of shark news, shark pictures, and shark videos.