The Great White Summer: LBI Sharks 2014

The problem with writing anything enthusiastic about Sharks, or any interesting marine life that can kill you, on the Internet is that some Troll inevitably will leave some variant of this comment:

GET OVER IT!!!! YEAH, THERE ARE SHARKS IN THE OCEAN. BIG DEAL. WHEN YOU GO IN THE OCEAN YOUR (sic.) IN THEIR WORLD, NOT YOURS. OH WHOOP DEE DOO, THERE ARE SHARKS. GET OVER IT. STAY OUT OF THE OCEAN IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE IT, MORON!!!!11!!

I feel awful for the poor children of these people. Imagine the parenting….

Troll Child:

Hey Dad, guess what… I graduated College! Aren’t you excited for me?

Troll’s Response:

GET OVER IT!!!! YEAH, YOU GRADUATED. BIG DEAL. WHEN YOU GO TO COLLEGE YOUR (sic.) IN THEIR WORLD, NOT YOURS. OH WHOOP DEE DOO, YOU GRADUATED. GET OVER IT. STAY OUT OF COLLEGE IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE IT, MORON!!!!11!!

Hopefully that pre-emptive strike will be sufficient to keep anyone from embarrassing his or herself by repeating this strangely popular form of shark-related-commenting. Having quickly surveyed comment sections on the Internet though, I’m not hopeful. So just to be clear, by you reading this post we are entering into a binding agreement that we all understand and already know that a.) there are sharks in the ocean, b.) they live in the ocean, and c.) we don’t live in said ocean.

Moving on… SHARK!!!!!111!!!!

Wait. Nope. I’m still not comfortable. So let’s back up and repeat that we already know and understand that sharks live in the ocean. Let us then fine tune the point by saying that we know and understand that there have always been sharks around LBI. O.K.

Just a few weeks into Summer 2014, we already set up for one of the most epic Shark Summers we’ve seen in quite some time, perhaps meaning forever. There are sharks, and rumors of sharks, everywhere. 2012 was a fantastic season for sharks, but then 2013 went dead. It is appearing that we are picking up right where we left off in 2012, and zooming forward at warp speed,. Reports offshore from places-you-have-to-take-a-boat-to are reporting incredible numbers of large sharks, and folks are also landing them right off our beaches. These sharks are our more-common species of Brown Sharks, Sand Tiger Sharks, and Thresher Sharks. But the Big Story is the more frequent appearance of the Big Daddy of them all, the Great White Shark.

Great White Sharks are being spotted and even caught up and down the coast of New Jersey. Good reports have seen them nearshore at Island Beach State Park, Long Beach Island, and there is a firsthand account of a face to face encounter with a spear fisherman right in Barnegat Inlet. Let’s refresh and state clearly that we know there are Great White Sharks in the Ocean. We know that they swim through New Jersey waters. But what is uncommon is the number and frequency of encounters lately, and regular folks having nearshore interactions with them on Long Beach Island. With all of our Paddleboarders, Surfers, Kayakers, and swimmers, there exists no solid video or photographic evidence of a Great White encounter nearshore LBI as there does in the other Northeast location where they have started making a permanent home, Cape Cod. But that could change this season. Out of all the summers we’ve had, this one could be the Summer that finally produces the amazing viral video we’d all love to see and to show our children when they are naughty.

The appearance of Great White Sharks on LBI is a good thing, a fun thing, and interesting thing, and hopefully a sign that all sorts of various marine conservation and clean-up efforts are making progress.

Seeing sharks off Long Beach Island, especially the awesome Great White, while you’re in a boat miles out at sea is one thing… but swimming with them nearshore is an order-of-magnitude different on the adventure scale.  If you are interested in exploring the world of LBI sharks in a non-fishing/maiming/killing kind-of-way, take up Stand Up Paddleboarding immediately and invest in a good pair of surf-safe polarized lenses. Watch for large schools of bunker floating in the surf and paddle around. It should be pretty easy to spot a few large Brown Sharks when they dart quickly away from your Paddleboard. Then, you can pray either that a.) you are the first person to document a Great White off LBI on Paddleboard or b.) you are the last person to document a Great White off LBI on Paddleboard

From the beach, Brown Sharks will breach in a large enough feeding frenzy so again, keep your eyes on the bunker pods especially at sunrise and sundown. West Wind is your friend for seeing such things.

So, get over it. We know sharks live in the ocean. We know that we don’t live in the ocean. We know there are sharks, and always have been sharks off LBI.

But we also know that nearshore LBI shark sightings are rare and poorly documented. We know that statistically our shark population is growing, encounters are increasing, and that this is an exciting development. We know that Great White Sharks are appearing in greater numbers, and closer to shore, than any other season we can remember.

To keep tabs on the developing Long Beach Island shark scene and specifically the shark-fishing scene, read the awesome Jay Mann religiously! Just please refrain from commenting that you already know that sharks live in the ocean and that you know that you don’t live in the ocean.