Sailors," says the Nouveau Petit Larousse French lexicon, "gave sharks the name 'requin' because their presence allowed no hope of salvation for a swimmer and was tantamount to a requiem."
Man has long been morbidly preoccupied with sharks. Pliny the Elder in the first century A.D. wrote of shark attacks on Mediterranean sponge divers, and during the 18th century the great Swedish naturalist Linnaeus announced that Jonah had been swallowed not by a whale but by a shark.
Evidence of fatal human experience with sharks has mounted over the years and has been documented even by such a fiercely objective authority as the Journal of the American Medical Association (July 22, 1944). Yet, scientists of established repute held that sharks were a harmless lot, and it was only a mass of grim evidence from World War II that once and for all made it tragically clear that sharks have no aversion to human flesh. Downed fliers and ship-sinking survivors reported too many grisly shark encounters to be ignored, and shark research has since been a serious occupation, with resultant interesting facts about shark life.
Sharks, for instance, although their stomachs have yielded everything from rubber boots to tin cans, prefer fresh food to carrion. They are, by and large, simply too slow to catch most fish, often must depend on cripples and flotsam for a meal. Furthermore, the majority of sharks have miserable eyesight, a highly developed sense of smell and do not have to roll on their side to bite. Their nervous system is wonderfully primitive, and they are virtually immune to pain.
The most recent fund of shark data is a booklet titled Airmen Against the Sea, published by the U.S. Air University and written by Dr. George A. Llano. It may be as practically significant for the beach buffs, yachtsman and deepwater anglers as for the hapless airmen.
In offshore shark waters, advises the report, "Swimmers should retain all clothing, particularly shoes. Evidence shows that among groups of men the partly unclad are attacked first, usually in the feet."
Aimless splashing tends to attract sharks; movement should be kept at a minimum.
If, though, a shark appears, there are rules which may keep the castaway intact:
1) Conserve strength. "Time is on the shark's side."
2) Try shouting under water.
3) Release shark repellent if available. (It has limited value and none when sharks are excited by the presence of blood.)
4) If the shark attacks, kick and thrash at it. If possible hit it on the snout, in the eyes or gills.
Businesslike and stark as the report may be, there is no convincing reason why anyone should abandon his seaside vacation and embrace bird watching. Shark species historically dangerous to man rarely venture into shallow water, and the chances of attack along this country's shoreline are roughly comparable to those of being struck by lightning. Only 30-odd attacks have been reported from U.S. beaches since 1916, and the most recent fatal attack occurred at Pacific Grove, Calif. on December 7, 1952 when a 17-year-old boy was bitten some 50 yards from shore.
There is one quite logical rule, nevertheless, which should be followed invariably. When a shark is in beach vicinity, get out of the water.
It is a fine, lovely beaver house. For years rangers at Ontario's Algonquin Park have pridefully showed it to tourists. The tourists have taken pictures of it and marveled at beaver industriousness. One recent morning, however, early visitors noticed some rather startling additions to this beaver house. A television antenna sprouted from its roof. A clothesline stretched from the antenna to a nearby pole, and on the line flapped an assortment of distinctively feminine apparel. District Forester D. N. Omand of Pembroke recognized the additions as most unbeaverlike. He knew that beavers wear the same clothing year round and are far too busy to lounge around gazing at Hopalong Cassidy or Rin Tin Tin. He also was aware that a group of Junior Rangers, high school youths whom the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests sends north every summer, had just pitched camp. A visit to the camp confirmed his suspicions, and, after praising Junior Rangers for their imagination, he issued the edict: There would be no further additions to local beaver houses.
SO—season opened (or opens); SC—season closed (or closes).
C—clear water; D—water dirty or roily; M—water muddy.
N—water at normal height; SH—slightly high; H—high; VH—very high; L—low; R—rising; F—falling.
WT50—water temperature 50°.
FG—fishing good; FF—fishing fair; FP—fishing poor; OVG—outlook very good; OG—outlook good; OF—outlook fair; OP—outlook poor
BLUEFIN TUNA: NOVA SCOTIA: Hopes are high at recently unproductive Wedgeport as herring run is unusually heavy, and big blue-fins are working Soldiers' Rip with first 2 taken last week. Jess Surette of Wakefield, Mass. whipped 535-pounder in 40 minutes on July 21, and the next day Bernard Lingley of Water-town, Mass. landed a 587-pounder in one hour; OG.
TROUT: MONTANA: FF on large Mont, streams due to extreme hot weather but FG in upper reaches of Gallatin, Boulder, and Stillwater rivers. Gardiner River and Slough Creeks in Yellowstone Park producing on small dries and hopper imitations; OF until slightly cooler weather.
ALBERTA: Upper Stoney Creek in Rocky Mountain foothills near Caroline last week dried tears in brook trout mourners' eyes, as Ivor Nordfors of Red Deer came home with a 9-pound 8-ouncer. Shortly thereafter Ted Betts of Caroline staggered out with a 9-pound 5-ouncer, trailed back to the creek and staggered out again with a 10-pound 10-ouncer. OVG in Stoney, which is 115 miles from Calgary by very poor roads but obviously worth the trip.
MICHIGAN: All streams N and C and OVG in meadow areas. Sturgeon River yielding good crop of rainbows to 2 pounds, but anglers are itchy waiting for imminent arrival of big summer run fish; OVG. Brook trout OF on Black and Ocequeoc. OVG for limit creels on main and north branches of Maple. Ausable, Manistee, Jordan, Betsie, Boardman and Pere Marquette FF for brownies.
IDAHO: In southern area Big and Little Wood rivers excellent for flies early morning and evening, but garden hackle experts are taking 1- to 2-pounders during the day by fishing on bottom in deep holes; OF. In north central state, end of road on main Salmon to mouth of Horse Creek FG on flies, but local sourdough sends up smoke signals that a pack trip to upstream Horse Creek will produce hottest angling in Idaho; OVG.
WHALES: BRITISH COLUMBIA: Well-known Vancouverite Colonel W. E. (Squid) MacInnes, a man of uncompromising veracity, went salmon trolling in Brown's Bay last week; was unstrung to see a 50-foot whale surface in the wake of his boat and even more unstrung when he hooked said whale and found himself being speedily towed to sea. Faced with a longish spell of hard work and discouraged by the realization that even if successful he would have to release out-of-season whale, the colonel regretfully cut his line.
BLUEFISH: MASSACHUSETTS: Action faltered on south Cape shore last week, but charter boatmen all around Cape reporting large schools of surface-feeding but lure-shy fish: OG and should pick up from here on.
MARYLAND: Tinkers now moving into Chesapeake, and vast schools are present in Tangier Sound with trollers taking all they want. OVG for next few weeks.
LOUISIANA: As suddenly as they disappeared a month ago, blues have popped up around oil rigs off Grande Isle and are in violently hungry mood; OG.
NEW YORK: Schools of fish to 15 pounds about a mile outside of Montauk, L.I. channel, and up to 100 boats are narrowly averting collisions; OVG.
NEW JERSEY: Excellent run of fish in a variety of sizes now in full swing north of Klondike Bank to a point inside of Farm's Bank 5 to 8 miles off Asbury Park. Most successful boats are chumming and drifting, with catches up to 50 fish a man common. Oldtimers claim this is greatest year since 1936 and OVG.
STRIPED BASS: MARYLAND: Striped bass big and plentiful crowding mouth of Chester River in Chesapeake Bay and are being taken trolling and by chumming with grass shrimp. Light tackle casters nailing 3-pounders along shores of Kent Island, and annual migration of large fish in the Susquehanna River is under way. OVG generally for next 3 weeks.
CALIFORNIA: Nationwide angling hysteria especially rampant in Calif., as local addicts babble about finest run of big stripers off San Francisco and San Mateo beaches since the war. Top catch last week was 47-pounder by Lou Erick-son of San Francisco, taken at Taraval Street Hole of Ocean Beach. Inside Golden Gate, Suisun Bay and Carquinez Strait FG but some wind holding down results.
MASSACHUSETTS: Cape Cod Canal producing on daytime tides, and large schools still showing on Billingsgate and Brewster shoals; OG but spotty. Surf slingers along Orleans and Nauset beaches scoring and OG. Cuttyhunkers wailing over usual July slump but report plenty of bass in the vicinity.
RHODE ISLAND: FG all along coast as Mrs. Joanne W. Albrecht of Charleston last week took a 39-pounder on 14-pound-test line for a possible new world record in the 12- to 20-pound-test line category.
ATLANTIC SALMON: NEW BRUNSWICK: Conditions good but salmon fickle at Fredericton on St. John and Nashwaak rivers. FF on St. Croix and FG for grilse and salmon up-river on St. John particularly at Bath Pool where a 12- and 15-pounder were taken last week by two anglers from—what do you know—Bath, N.Y.! OG on Tobique River below power dam and also on open water of the Up-salquitch.
NOVA SCOTIA: Provincial catch totaled 226 for last week making season's kill to date 2,031. St. Mary's top river with the Moser a close second. FF in Richmond County's Grand River, West Sheet Harbour, Ecum Secum, Medway and Margaree. Rain needed to raise river levels except in eastern Cape Breton region where water levels are N; OG here but OF for rest of province.
Before adjournment the Senate approved creation of Virgin Islands National Park on St. John Island 1,400 miles south of New York in the Caribbean Sea (OUTDOOR WEEK, July 23). Through expected Presidential sanction, it will be the nation's 29th such park.