“You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat…”

That particular line is one of the more memorable quips from the 1975 movie, “Jaws”.  If you haven’t seen the movie, shame on you – go rent it!  If you have, you’ll remember that the sheriff of Amity, NY – a guy named Brody – made this comment whilst riding on fisherman Quint’s boat and seeing the massive, man-eating Great White shark for the first time.

The movie was a huge summertime hit – and literally scared people out of the water!

Now I know that sharks are everywhere, and that the likelihood of getting bitten or attacked by a shark is infinitesimally small.  In fact, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department’s International Shark Attack File, there were only 80 shark attacks across the globe in 2012.  Of those 80 attacks, only seven were fatal.  Of course, slightly more than a quarter (n=26) of those shark attacks happened in my home state of Florida.

Still, I know the chances of me getting attacked by a shark in the waters where I might swim are rare.  I live in St. Johns county – a southern suburb of Jacksonville (Duval county).  Over the time period of 1882-2012, there have only been 55 attacks (2 fatalities) combined in these two counties.

And yet, I don’t particularly like swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.  I know those sharks are out there.  And I know that they are hungry.  And I know that I sound like a wounded seal when I swim (not that we have seals here or that any shark that lives around me would know what the heck one is).  As a side note, I’m also not particularly fond of swimming in lakes or rivers in Florida due to the apex predator that lives in those ecosystems.  But that’s a different story.

Back to the main point.  I’m not a huge fan of ocean swimming because of the sharks.  Now, I have even more reason to not want to go back into the water.  Great Whites.

Yes, that school-bus sized, triathlete-eating, animal with 2,000,000 razor-sharp teeth and a unsatiable desire for human flesh.  Okay.  That was only a little dramatic and far fetching, but you get the picture.

Over the past two months, not one – but THREE Great White sharks have been seen in the area.  Just this past weekend, OCEARCH – a research outfit out of the Northeast – literally caught and tagged a Great White shark in Jacksonville.  Or actually about 200 feet offshore in 25 feet of water to be precise.

See that little dot just to the right of Jacksonville?  That's where they tagged the Great White!

See that little dot just to the right of Jacksonville? That’s where they tagged the Great White!  Credit: OCEARCH.com


The shark they caught was not teeny-tiny either.  Measuring in at 14.5 feet and roughly 2000 pounds, Lydia is a pretty good-sized female Great White. 

This is Lydia - a 14.5 foot, 2000 pound Great White shark caught and tagged recently off the Jacksonville, FL coast

This is Lydia – a 14.5 foot, 2000 pound Great White shark caught and tagged recently off the Jacksonville, FL coast  Credit: OCEARCH.com


Again….they caught her just 200 feet off shore!

Earlier this winter, another shark – Mary Lee – was spotted by satellite receiver (she pinged when she came to the surface) literally in the break line at Jacksonville Beach…just five or so miles south of where Lydia was tagged.  Mary Lee, at 16 feet and 3500 pounds makes Lydia look like a toddler.

Hopefully, all these Great Whites are just like their northern land-shark cousins (like what I did there?) and only came south for the winter.  With any luck, once the temperatures warm back up, they will head back up north so that they can hang around Cape Cod for the summer.  Ya know, eating Yankees and whatnot.

In the meantime, there’s no way I’m going swimming in the ocean.  Oh yeah….that’s not because of the sharks (they are there all the time).  It’s because the water is just too dang cold!