I’m currently on vacation with my family north of Jacksonville on Amelia Island, Florida.
It’s the sort of place where you jump into the local hot-tub and listen to visitors kvetch about the 3-million dollar ‘facelift’ that they just did on their kitchen.
On the positive side, the area is carpeted with old-growth live oaks and palmetto. It’s also the sort of place where you occasionally see leviathans like this guy (below) emerging from the surf. Fifteen feet long and about 600 pounds- he looks like he’s smiling, but the ocean-side of a barrier island is no place for an alligator. He’s wildly off-course, and probably deathly exhausted.
The yellow arrow points at the front porch of my in-laws’ condo. The red line represents a set of GPS fixes from a 16-foot great white named ‘Mary Lee’ (a delicate little southern Belle of a shark apparently- who comes up with these names?***).
***actually- it’s named after a lead researcher’s mother… who probably possesses the adventurous soul and bold heart to make any Charcharadon charcharius proud
The thing is- I know what those surf-breaks look like and feel like. That great thumping fish is wallowing about in four feet of water. That’s the zone where the tourists from Newark ride their rubber dinosaurs. Tasty little cutlets!
(As we all know, great whites actually have little interest in eating people… even the porkiest of us lack the kind of blubber that piques their interest. Still… those are murky waters, where misidentifications would be all too easy).
Squirrel! (Err… Seal!)
As you can imagine, when a 16-foot shark flourishes its tag in a surf break right out the front porch of a metropolis with 870,000 people (Jacksonville), you get a rash of headlines like ‘"Great white shark enters Jacksonville Beach waters; Swimmers, surfers urged to stay out of the water until shark leaves." The truth, of course, was drily articulated by a Jacksonville area fisherman named Jack Ashley- "It's not the only great white that's swimming out there. It just happens to be one that we're tracking."
It also makes the experience immeasurably richer, in my opinion.
I need to spin out some great white designs for my pots. So far, my drafts have been a little too cartoonish (see below). I want something that evokes this Richard Ellis painting.
We need alligators too.
The last I heard, our friend from the beach was slated to ride the euthanasia express to some Everglades in the sky… but I hope the nice Park Service man punted on his duties and brought the gator to some shaded, tannin-flavored canal, brimming with coots and gar-fish- and maybe with a human toe or two to add zest to the experience.