On Shark Week and Close Encounters (of the Sharky Kind)

photo credit: candiche via photopin cc
photo credit: candiche via photopin cc



I’ve seen sharks in the ocean, it hasn’t made me get out of the ocean; that’s for sure.

Luke Hemsworth


I am still on my little blog break, but as many of you know I am a fan of Sharks and Shark Week. Although I do not care for all of the Shark Week shenanigans, I do appreciate the efforts of researchers, marine biologists  and many others who share fascinating facts about these amazing, mysterious creatures. As one who is drawn to all of God’s Creation, I can’t help but ponder the diversity, beauty, darkness and brutality that co-exist in our current reality.


My mother asked me recently, “Why do you like Sharks so much? Why not Dolphins?”  Why am I fascinated by Sharks? I find all of Creation to hold aspects and mystery about the Creator Himself  that we have yet to understand and within them lies dormant incomprehensible truth. Why am I fascinated with Sharks? That’s easy…God made them and in them also lies a part of The Creator’s divinity and  power. NO, I don’t worship them, but respect them as part of His ultimate Creation. I also love Dolphins, Mom. I just don’t hate or reject creatures (or people) just because they behave true to their nature (could do a whole post on that).


Well, all this to share, this Re-Post of my real life Shark Encounter.  I’ve edited it a bit, and for those who have not read it yet, here it is…



Florida, 1994 on July 31st…


I am with friends and excited for the first beach visit of my vacation. We are at  Waveland Beach – the Southern most end of Jensen Beach. Understand, I am one who is known at times to be oblivious to my surroundings. However, I am with three other people and there are a  good number of beach goers this day. 

Lifeguards on duty.

Swimming  allowed. 

Par for the course beach day.


We are enjoying the beautiful, clear green water, standing in about waist to chest deep, facing away from the beach and toward the ocean.


I suggest, you never do that.

Always keep one eye toward the lifeguards and shore.


I really do, now.

I feel I am one with the Lifeguards and I will touch base with them when I hit the beach to check conditions and other inside information. To this day. If the Lifeguards whistle, point…yell or  communicate in any way- Heck if the Lifeguard goes on a bathroom break,I know it!

However, on this day while I was freely frolicking, I failed to do it:

We are immersed in conversation, unaware that during our time of oblivious wading, the beach mood and dynamic at the shore has drastically changed.

I am not sure of what prompted our attention.

But as if in slow motion we turn toward the beach.


We are facing about 40-50  feet between us and the sand and to our shock, we are standing alone in the 4 1/2 feet deep water. What I see causes a feeling in my gut and heart that I have failed to experience in my life prior and since. Thank God.



Fear that is so present that death itself feels near.

I smell death in the air. I sense it closing in on me.


On the shore the lifeguard stands, waving frantically, holding a red flag, as the beach goers stare at us waving and jumping as if they could make us move faster with their own movement. What we see is not encouraging friends, I sense fear in the hundreds of faces facing us. I see the backsides of a handful of people, ankle deep having already hastily exited the water.

It gets worse. 

Of the three others with me, I am furthest to the left and closest to what I see skimming through the water.About 10 feet away a large black-grey mass is swimming to my left and I feel fear as my mind processes the size. 

Bigger than me.

Coming. Toward. Me.

We are all pushing in toward the beach and the only thing I see or feel is the moment

It looms large and I feel as if I am about to fall into an unknown, incomprehensible abyss. 

My eyes are piercing the lifeguard as if she is Jesus.


I never let my eyes depart from her. There is no doubt that I must not look back at what I dare not see. There is not a second to even consider it. 

 Ten to Twelve feet of grey doom under clear green beauty swims towards me as I make my way to shore.

Death wells up in me and feels as close as suffocation but for  the adrenaline coursing through my body.

I care for no one or nothing at this moment but my own survival.

I see nothing but a shore of freaking people and one life guard coaching me from what I know pursues me.

I forget I am with friends. I forget everything. 

I am alone…

Sweet relief, we all make it to shore. 

People applaud, look relieved, smile at us, some back pats for the guys and thumbs up from others.

One of the lifeguards look at me visibly shaken speaks,

 “That shark was coming right at YOU!” 

She adds, “I’ve never seen a shark swim so fast towards people before.”


Thus began my “shark magnet” reputation and joking. We decided to head off for lunch. We had asked the Lifeguard why she thought the shark darted so suddenly. She did not know.How could she? We debated the possibilities and enjoyed retelling our shark tale over chowder from the safety of a surf-side table.

There is much we do not understand about the creatures God created. All cannot be understood or known. I do want to say, I have an immense love and appreciation for these mysterious creatures. I am grateful that the shark darted away on that fateful day.

The bottom line is we share this good earth, with creatures that He has put here. It’s their world, too. Remember that when you go in the water.


Sharing with: Create with Joy

Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at dawn.paoletta@gmail.com

10 thoughts on “On Shark Week and Close Encounters (of the Sharky Kind)

  1. I think I would have frozen in fear in the water, praying it would swim past and keep going, and perhaps have perished in the folly of that thought. What a scary adventure – and thank you for the tip – never take your eyes off the lifeguard!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WOW! I would have been shark bait!!! I think I would have passed out!! I believe God moved that shark away from you. A guy from our church told a story about hunting in the mountains and a made momma grizzly coming straight at them who ran off at the last second. Wouldn’t it be so cool, if you had eyes for the spiritual and saw an angel standing between you and the shark and the angels arm was stretched toward the shark, saying you can go no further towards this child!!! Oh I love that picture!!!


  3. Oh my gosh, my heat was racing as I read this. I have never encountered a shark, but I did almost drown once as a teenager, while at the beach. Thus, I don’t go into the ocean much. I think I would have called out for Jesus to take me home. I’m not sure I am a strong enough swimmer to have made it to shore. I am thankful you did are are hear to share your story today!


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