Don’t Pet the Sharks

One thing most people notice almost as soon as they arrive in Hawaii is that they are on an island surrounded by a lot of water. In fact, you can see the ocean just about everywhere you go, unless you close your eyes. Because of this, and our boringly pleasant weather, people tend to get in this water and swim around. We call this “having fun” and do it ourselves, even those of us who live here year in and year out. But to make it safer for you tourists, allow me to give you some advice.

It is important to remember that the ocean is not a lake. Lakes have bass in them. Sometimes these are big bass. They like shiny things. They eat shiny minnows. We have fish that are bigger than bass. They are everywhere. They eat sea turtles and seals. To break up the monotony, they occasionally sample people. We call them “sharks.”

This is not intended to scare you. Shark attacks are very rare. But that will not be much comfort to remember if one is swimming off with your leg, so here are some tips to keep you safe in our friendly, shark-filled waters.

Always swim with a partner. This is called the “Buddy System.” It improves your chances of survival by 50% in a shark attack, unless there are two sharks.

When a shark attacks, punch it in the nose as hard as you can. I got this tip from an older, experienced one-armed diver named Lefty.

Even though they are considered chic, avoid wearing an all-meat bathing suit, except at the pool and for casual shopping.

Don’t pet the sharks, even if they seem to be asleep. Apply that old adage about letting sleeping dogs lie. Then multiply it by 1,000.

Turtle and seal costumes should be worn in the ocean only on Halloween by very, very depressed people.

When spear fishing, resist the temptation to make a lei out of your catch until you exit the water.

Sharks, though intelligent, have no concept of the words “sit,” “stay” or “let go.”

Avoid swimming at “feeding time,” which is approximately at dawn and dusk, unless you have a burning desire to be part of the “food chain.” Yes, sharks do eat at other times of the day. They are noted snackers.

Avoid wearing shiny jewelry when swimming. See comment on bass fishing above.

When swimming with friends, avoid using the “wounded dolphin call” to keep track of each other.

Do not go shark fishing on any boat called the Orca.

Sharks have a limited, some might even say primeval, sense of humor. When joking your way out of an encounter, keep it simple and avoid elaborate puns.

Before going in the ocean, check for any gaping wounds or excessive bleeding. Apply a tourniquet.

Small children should be tied together on a rope at ten foot intervals. Attach a large glass sea-fishing bobber to either end.

Study shark behavior. This way when a shark arches its back and wags its tail, you will not confuse it with your dog Fluffy’s similar body language.

On a crowded beach, always chum the end furthest from where you’re swimming.

Should the unthinkable happen, remember that only a thumb and pinkie are required to make the “shaka” or “howzit” sign, our state’s folksy “hello” hand gesture.

I hope this has been of some help. Remember, your chances of being attacked by one of our playful sharks is less than being struck by lightning.*

* Note: Mr Don Frick of Hamlin, PA, since you have been struck not once but twice by lightning, it is highly recommended you stay on the beach.

©2010 Kona Lowell