Never yell shark in a crowded lineup.


Professional surfer Clint Kimmins from Australia did a couple of things when we updated his Facebook status to report that a bull shark maimed a guy in the lineup of a popular surf break. The first thing he did was demonstrate the kind of strobe-light quickness of social media that makes Web 2.0 consultants sprint to their netbooks to update their PowerPoint for the next Omaha Association of Realtor’s luncheon.

The other thing he did was lie. There was no shark attack.

You see, Kimmins made it up because he thought the break was getting too crowded. Steve Casimiro over at The Adventure Life has a bit more about Kimmins’ soulless subterfuge.

To surfers, there exists a very minimal number of distractions to their love of the water. Number one on that short list are sharks. (Followed closely by something called “flat spells.”) It’s an odd dichotomy, surfer and shark. The fear is really just an absurd level of respect. That, in case the non-surfer out there is wondering, is why surfers who have been bitten, nudged, noticed or to some degree masticated, have little problem paddling out again. It’s the animals’ ocean; they’re in charge. Most of us are thankful they grant us as much access as they do.

In places like Australia, South Africa and portions of the California coast, shark attacks happen. They are rare, sure, but only because of how infrequently they happen.

For those who have experienced or witnessed an attack, the timeframes between reports shrink to seconds, making them an every day occurrence. It takes only a headline, or a Facebook post, to incite the internal horror of a single, cave-black eye staring at you from just below a cellophane sheet of saltwater, focused on nothing but disintegrating whatever section of bone it happens to hold in its teeth.

Dramatic? Maybe. But this modern day tale of crying wolf isn’t going to make it into any storybooks. It bolsters the stigmas of localism, erodes the silent camaraderie of the lineup and shows monumental disrespect to those with clear memories of an actual encounter, which, thanks to Kimmins, is happening all over again.




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