Should you feed sharks candy bars?

I was on another website when I came across this account by Sean Morley (

Great! Thanks Sean! Now sharks are going to expect a free candy bar off every paddler they come across, like overly habituated squirrels!

"I was listening to my iPod to relieve the boredom of yet another long crossing, paddling between Santa Barbara Island and Catalina, when suddenly I felt as much as heard a big splash behind me. I assumed it was just another dolphin or sea lion but when I glanced over my shoulder I saw not just a dorsal fin but a tail fin as well. And it was going from side to side. A shark! And a big one! It must have come right out of the water for me to have felt its splash and now it was right behind me, bumping the stern of my kayak. What should I do? My GPS told me I was 8.2 nautical miles from Catalina. There were no other vessels in sight. Great! I don’t mind admitting I was terrified. There must be something in a sea kayaker’s DNA that produces an overwhelming urge to paddle flat out when pursued by a shark. I resisted the urge to sprint, knowing that it would be futile and wanting to save my energy for a possible fight. The situation was quite bizarre. I distinctly remember Dire Straits’, “The Sultan of Swing” playing in my earphones as the shark chased me. The shark swam right underneath me, it’s dorsal fin close enough for me to hit with my paddle. As I did so it flicked the underside of my kayak with it’s tail, forcing me to low brace. I kept paddling and the shark circled and came right at me head on. I lunged at it again with my paddle but missed. As far as I am aware the shark never tried to bite the kayak or me for that matter but instead seemed intent on harassing me, like a cat with a mouse. Again it was on my stern. I reverse paddled and the shark came by me, again flicking the boat with it’s tail as I hits it’s fin. I was using a wing paddle which are not great for low bracing but I was determined not to capsize. The shark circled around and gave me the opportunity to get a really good look at it because the water was crystal clear. It was about ten to twelve foot in length, certainly not as long as my kayak. But it was just as sleek and really fast. I am fairly certain it was a blue shark. It had a torpedo-like head and long slender tail and whilst I have only seen a small great white in an aquarium, this shark seemed more slender, more graceful. It was a beautiful fish and had I been in a decent sized boat, the encounter would have been wonderful. In these circumstances however, I felt completely vulnerable, truly scared and more than a little bit stupid. Why should I be suprised to see a shark? This was their domain. I was the intruder. I had probably paddled past dozens without knowing it but now I had met one that was hungry.

The encounter lasted for about five minutes. What was really scary was how persistent the shark was. It must have known that I was not part of it’s normal diet. Yet it seemed intent on giving me a bad time. I had plenty of opportunity to take a picture of it as it cruised around me and chased my stern but I had absolutely no desire to take my hands off my paddle. I had a knife in my pocket but again was unwilling to let go of what I conisdered to be my best defence – a carbon wing paddle. I became exasperated. The thing just kept following me. What should I do? My VHF radio was in reach behind me but I felt a bit ridiculous shouting “MayDay” when the shark hadn’t actually bitten me. In the end I summoned up the courage to take my hand off the paddle to reach into the pocket of my life jacket where I knew I had some energy bar wrappers. I threw these into the water in the hope of distracting the fish. Then I found a half eaten Power Bar that I had forgotten about. I threw that in as well. May be the shark went for it and realized that I didn’t taste good after all? Who knows, but finally after what seemed like a very long time, the shark disappeared.

I am fairly sure it was a Blue Shark, or possibly a Mako. I am fairly sure it wasn’t a Great White and the approach from the rear seems to confirm that. Scary all the same. Deb Volturno has since told me of similar Blue Shark encounters she’s had in Monterey Bay.

it’s all fun and games
until someone loses a leg.

Keep the sharks happy
Sharks are doing “Product Testing” in 2011

Giving the shark a Power Bar may have ensured he’ll never follow a paddler again.

Now if it was a Snickers bar…

Yeah, I agree it would have been silly to call for help when you hadn’t been bitten yet. Wait until at least two or three bites. Then call for help.

Looking for Mountain Dew
It brings to mind the old Mountain Dew commercial where the kayaker opens a can of Dew and gets swallowed by a whale. Saw that for the first time the same day I bought my kayak – much to my Mom’s dismay.