South Africa and Sharks

I went out to dinner with a group of women the other night, and the conversation turned to future postings and where people might like to go. A few people mentioned South Africa as a desirable post, and all I could think about were great white sharks. As if by virtue of us ever getting posted to South Africa, it would be a given that I’d be eaten by one.

I used to think that I have a healthy fear of sharks, but turns out, it’s really more of an obsession/phobia. When I’m near an ocean, I’m convinced there are large sharks lurking just out of sight and waiting for me to let my guard down so they can attack. Anytime I’m flying over water (even if it’s a large lake – don’t get me started on alligators) I’m not worried about the idea of crashing (which I’m pretty sure is what would kill me) but I’m worried about being stranded alive, treading water, in a deep body of water. My heart starts racing just thinking about it, and the fear of what might happen with the sharks is almost worse than if a shark actually appeared. Have you seen the movie Open Water? I think my heart would just give out instantly. The good news is that we’re trying to plan a vacation to Greece next month and I’ve spent a little time researching shark attacks there, and they seem to be incredibly rare.

Now, I try really hard to hide my inner crazy when I meet new people. But once we started talking about South Africa, and I brought up the sharks, it was like I couldn’t stop myself. I just kept talking. The conversation flowed to another creature of the sea that both terrifies and fascinates me, the killer whale. (If you’re wondering what the other ladies were thinking of me at this point, well, I can only imagine. Jessica said, “you should blog about this”, but I’m pretty sure she was joking.)

When I was little we went to Sea World quite often. I think that Sea World, and maybe a lot of them, have since closed, which is sad because I absolutely loved it. Also my step dad made me watch (I say made me, I’m not sure I was actually forced but I do blame him for the incident) the scary movie Orca. If you’re curious about the plot, it was pretty much Jaws, but with a killer whale instead of a great white. So it was kind of an awful movie, but totally terrifying. My love and fear of killer whales was born at an early age. Interestingly, there are no known reports of fatalities by a killer whale in the wild (fun fact of the day!). You can even try to swim with them in Norway, but as I mentioned earlier, I’d die when I hit the water.

So while writing this, I’ve also spent an inappropriate amount of time on Google and You Tube looking up shark attacks and scary killer whale videos. I clearly have too much time on my hands. I will leave you with these two images. And I will try not to turn this blog into “things Jenni is afraid of” because that could go on FOR YEARS.

That poor seal.


6 thoughts on “South Africa and Sharks

  1. As I am reading this my vision immediately flashes to Mexico and your reaction to being surrounded by the large fish as we snorkeled. You were panic stricken and they were the size of your leg. I have to agree that should you be approached by a shark or a killer whale while frolicking in the ocean your death would be imminent.

  2. This may be my favorite of all of your posts so far. It’s hard to decide between this and the Shop and Chop post.

  3. Jenni, so glad to hear your are doing well minus the fear of large animals in the water! I am being forced to be less active due to a little case of the shingles, but your blog has made for excellent entertainment. I will also check out some of tv shows you mentioned! Looking forward to be regular reader. – Laura

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