It was still cool and cloudy when I arrived at Carpinteria Beach this morning to meet my swim group. Only three people were perched on the picnic table finishing off their FRS drinks.
“Do you think this weather is keeping people away this morning?” one woman asked as she looked up at the sky.
“Well, it’s already starting to clear up over there, ” a guy said as he pointed toward the foothills. “It’ll be clear by the time we get in the water.”
“Maybe that thing in the news scared off some folks,” another woman said as I shuffled off to the restroom.
Huh? What thing in the news?
After I returned from the restroom, a few more swimmers showed up. As we started the 10-minute warm-up of putting on our wetsuits, someone said, “Did you hear about that shark they spotted down in Malibu 2 days ago?”
I froze. I’m sorry…WHAT?!?!?!
“Yeah, it got as close as 500 feet off the coast. It was about 10-12 feet long. They think it was a great white, but maybe a mako,” she continued.
“That’s awfully big for a mako,” someone replied.
Oh. My. God. We’re talking sharks here? We’re about to spend an hour in shark-infested water???? Well, technically not here but in Malibu, less than 90 miles away.
Great White Shark Fun Fact #1: They can propel themselves up to 15 miles per hour. So GW Shark could travel from Malibu to Carpinteria in 6 hours. He could be roaming our swimming grounds this second!
“Well, this is their home. If it’s our time to go, then it’s our time to go,” someone concluded.
Time to go? What are you talking about? No, no, no. It’s definitely NOT my time to be eaten by a shark! I need to pick up my kids from Grandpa Jim’s house in 2 hours!
Our wetsuit-clad gang gathered along the shore to survey the course…pretty calm, small swell.
“This would be a good day to swim with a buddy, if you know what I mean!” another swimmer in a sleek black wetsuit said to me.
Great White Shark Fun Fact #2: Sometimes sharks confuse wetsuits for the black skin of sea lions, which are a common food. This is all the more reason why they should be making brightly colored wetsuits! I’ve already got the tramp stamp on my wetsuit. Why not make the whole thing pink?
“Let’s hope there are dolphins out there today because dolphins have been known to protect people and shoo away the sharks,” another swimmer said as we started entering the water.
About halfway through my swim, with non-stop shark thoughts racing through my mind, I noticed a couple of swimmers coming over my right shoulder, about 100 feet away. Hmm, where’d they come from? They’re so speedy. For some reason, I felt compelled to stop swimming and take a look at these speedy swimmers. Two of the support kayakers were also watching them. Wait, those aren’t people…oh my…so shiny…and big…and swift…my heart started racing with panic…then with relief…then with glee…DOLPHINS! It was my first time seeing dolphins while out on my ocean swim but oh how happy I was to see them. I don’t know if they really do protect us from sharks, but it felt good to think that they did.
Ok, time to get swimming, finish the course, and get the hell out of this ocean…until next week.
Great White Shark Fun Fact #3: They can detect 1 drop of blood in 25 gallons of water. They can detect tiny amounts of blood as far as 3 miles away. Ladies, this is something to consider when swimming during that “time of the month.”