Tag Archives: SCUBA

Sharks – Less Dangerous Than Your Bathtub

Not since the summer of 1975 have I seen shark-hysteria so high.

As you may recall, that was the summer Jaws was released, and, practically overnight, beaches all over the country were a lot less crowded.

It was certainly understandable. After all – prior to seeing a thirty foot Great White on the big screen, devouring everything in its path, most people were blissfully unaware of the presence of sharks, let alone the (suddenly perceived) threat they posed.

Then, like any good social phenomenon, the legend grew like a weed (sea weed if you will).

The sequels, copy-cats and rip-offs followed in droves – and people’s fear of the ocean’s apex predator grew proportionally.

Forty-four years later – you’d think the frenzy would be gone, or at least down to a realistic level.

But no.

Any decline in shark-o-phobia has been quickly reversed by social media.

Scroll through your facebook feed on any given day and you’re bound to come across a few stories about sharks “terrorizing” a coastal community, forcing the closing of a local beach or “attacking” a swimmer. Of course, twenty, thirty or forty years ago the technology to track and monitor sharks in real time didn’t exist. Now that it does, people are under the misconception that their favorite beach is all of a sudden overrun with sharks – and, of course, these sharks have only one thing in mind…the tasty flesh of humans.

The truth of the matter is – the sharks have always been there – we just didn’t know it.

Nevertheless, the aforementioned stories fuel the fire and, at a minimum, make people more frightened of the ocean…at worst, lead to the indiscriminate killing of sharks.

Estimates of the number of sharks killed worldwide by humans per year (either directly or indirectly) range from 100 million to 273 million.

Let’s go with the low end – 100 million.

Think about how many 100 million is…it comes down to 11,417 per hour.

It doesn’t even sound possible, but every source I checked corroborated it.

Now let’s look at the number of humans killed by sharks per year, again – worldwide.

Ten.

Not ten million…not even ten thousand…

Ten.

Per year.

Worldwide.

For you math nerds that equates to .001 per hour.

And these people are not eaten as the myths would have you believe. Most die from loss of blood after being bitten. Contrary to popular belief, sharks do not see humans as a delicacy…when a shark bites a human it is done as an investigation. Once they realize we are too low in calories to be worth the effort, they move on.

You are ten times more likely to die taking a bath than from a shark bite. Seriously…an average of 113 people die each year while relaxing in the tub.

Yet because of their completely erroneous reputation, sharks are targeted, caught and killed in the name of “who-cares-it’s-only-a-shark.”

The problem is…it’s not “only a shark” – it’s an extremely important link in the food chain whose existence has broad reaching effects.

In North Carolina a drop in the number of Great White sharks led to an increase in rays – the growing ray population, in turn, ate more bay scallops forcing some local fisheries to close. Once the scallops were no longer plentiful, the rays moved on to clams and quahogs forcing many restaurants to remove clam chowder from their menus. Moral of the story…sharks are good for the economy.

Sharks help maintain coral reefs by feeding on large predatory fish, such as Groupers. When these fish are not kept in check they feed on herbivores leading to more microalgae which leads to the deterioration of coral. Also, sharks feed on weak and sick species helping to maintain a healthy ocean. Ipso-facto sharks are good for the environment. In short – without sharks, our oceans would die – and if our oceans die…we die.

Despite mountains of scientific evidence extolling them, sharks are probably the most misunderstood animal on the planet. People seemingly prefer to get their “knowledge” of sharks from Hollywood or facebook memes rather than the scientific community.

My fascination with sharks began at the age of 15 when, quite ironically, my mother took me to see Jaws the night it opened at our local cinema. I had already read the book, so it was the next logical step. Unlike many others it didn’t stop me from swimming. I grew up a stone’s throw from the water and it was one of my favorite summer activities.

Did I sometimes wonder if there was something lurking beneath me?

Sure…but I had also seen the movie Friday the 13th – which didn’t stop me from going to summer camp.

In fact, two years after seeing Jaws I became a certified SCUBA diver in hopes that I would get to see one of these magnificent creatures in person.

I never did…still haven’t, but maybe someday.

Point of interest…Peter Benchley – the author of Jaws – spent his post-Jaws life as one of the world’s biggest shark advocates, at least in part due to the international panic Jaws had created.

Each summer, after shark week, I usually find myself in debates trying to get people to understand that sharks are good…but my voice has little power over a propaganda machine that chums the waters of paranoia with crap like Sharknado.

That’s why I decided to write this post…at least I won’t have to repeat myself as much – I can just give people a link and hope they read with an open mind.

Hopefully it will ease the fears of a few dozen people.

I’d love to stop the wanton killing of sharks, but for that I’d need a bigger audience.

 

As always – thank you for reading

And here are ten more things more likely to kill you than a shark… 

Fin

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Blood in the Water Splashes Down

bitw-cover-front

I don’t know about other writers but my mind sees stories everywhere.

If I see a shady looking guy in the produce aisle at the grocery store, I’ve concocted a story about global vegetable sabotage before I get to the pet food section.

My biggest – and only – complaint about this particular quirk is that I don’t have enough time to turn all of my story ideas into books. As a result, when it’s time to start a new project, the decision of which idea to work on next usually comes down to a choice between the most recent and the one that excites me the most.

After Full Circle was released in 2015 I needed a new project and, as usual I had several ideas to pick from.

Decisions, decisions…

This time it was fairly easy. I had a story idea that was not only recent, but one I was pretty anxious to write—and, believe it or not, the seed for it was planted in my mind way back when I was 17 years old.

At the time I had a pretty good job for a high school kid, and of course I had no bills, so, I was constantly looking for ways to spend my loot. A friend of mine had just started SCUBA diving, and was talking non-stop about what a blast it was…so…naturally I dove in (no pun intended).

A few years later I found myself married with a child on the way so there was no time (or money) for SCUBA diving, and all the expensive gear I had acquired was sold at a huge (disgustingly huge) loss.

I told myself I’d get back to it again someday.

Well, I did…about three years ago.

If you’re doing the math – that’s about a thirty year span.

At the risk of sounding cliché – it was like riding a bike. Once the rust was gone I felt like I had never stopped. And as a bonus…diving in northeast Florida beats the hell out of diving in Rhode Island!!

But I digress…

scuba-1

As I mentioned earlier, my mind is always looking for story ideas, so it was only a matter of time before I came up with an idea centered on diving. You would think that since Ike, my main character, is an ex-Navy SEAL it would be common for there to be diving in all of my books—and it is, but the diving has never been an integral part of the story – until now.

Right around the time Full Circle was released I was diving and spotted something shiny on the ocean floor. It turned out to be nothing, just light reflecting off a shell, but for a couple of minutes my mind took off, as would anybody’s, to the “T” word (treasure) and I immediately started fantasizing about the possibilities.

Then my author-mind kicked in, and I started considering some other, not so desirable, possibilities.

treasure

It’s that what if moment…

What if a guy was diving and found something really valuable, but it was something that somebody else didn’t want to be found?

This is what I came up with…

bitw-cover-front

Blood in the Water – my ninth novel – tells the story of Bob “Oscar” Oscarson, who finds a 300-year-old Spanish coin while SCUBA diving. Naturally he thinks his find is only the beginning. Unfortunately, he’s right—it’s the beginning of trouble the likes of which he never imagined.

In the book, we also see the return of Flagler Beach P.I. Steve Salem and his partner Val Casey (Backseat to Justice), who are investigating the disappearance of a retired architect from Rhode Island. Somehow their investigation connects them to Oscar and his mystery coin, and before long…there’s blood in the water.

Available in paperback  and  kindle.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I went to a training seminar about active shooters in the work-place and I’ve got an idea for a new book…

As always – thank you for reading

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Another Completed Manuscript – Another Free Novel

Blood in the Water/Water Hazard

 

 

It’s that time of year again…

The time when I write a blog post telling you how I’ve finished the first draft of my latest novel.

By now you probably know the routine, but let’s recap;

The draft is done, but it’s really just the beginning.

start finish

I’ve left it alone for a couple of weeks and sent it to my beta readers. This weekend I will read through it from start to finish and begin cleaning it up. When the comments from my betas start coming in I will go through it from start to finish for each one of them (there are 11). Some of their comments/suggestions I will use and some I won’t, but the value of their effort is immeasurable.

If you did the math you have concluded that, in the next two or three weeks, I will have gone through the manuscript about 12 times.

Once that process is done it will be sent off to the editor. While all that is going on I’ll be working with my cover girl (I love calling her that, but I don’t know if she knows I do!) Keri Knutson who will undoubtedly come up with yet another awesome cover. The editing process will take a month or so and then it will be ready for release.

At the time of this writing I am shooting for a September release.

Now let’s talk about this book – the next Great American Novel…

It’s called Blood in the Water and it marks the return of Flagler Beach P.I. Steve Salem and his partner Val Casey, who haven’t been seen since 2011’s Backseat to Justice.

BTJ cover

Also back in the thick of things is Ike – who had a brief cameo appearance in Full Circle, but hasn’t seen real action since Eyewitness Blues.

Blood in the Water opens with Steve and Val investigating the disappearance of Patrick Donahue, a sixty-eight-year-old retired Architect. Unfortunately, before their investigation gets very far, Donahue’s body washes up on the shore of Flagler Beach. Their missing person search is instantly transformed into a murder investigation.

Meanwhile, SCUBA divers Bob “Oscar” Oscarson and Nik Mostert, find a 300-year-old piece of Spanish gold with an unusual connection to a pair of college girls who disappeared thirty years earlier.

divers

The disappearance of Patrick Donahue, the missing college girls and the origin of the mysterious coin all come together in a fast-paced action story with bad guys, sharks and, of course, Ike.

Speaking of Ike…

In celebration of another completed manuscript I’ve decided to give away one of Ike’s earlier adventures – so Water Hazard will be FREE on Kindle until Wednesday, June 15th. It’s yours for the taking at this link – Water Hazard.

WH cover

So, to sum up;

Blood in the Water manuscript – done.

Water Hazard action novel featuring Ike – FREE

 

As always – thank you for reading

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