It's official now that the autopsy is complete: A fifteen to sixteen foot great white killed retired veterinarian and triathlete Dave Martin while he was training with nine others off the coast of Tide Beach in San Diego. As there are plenty of well-written and researched articles on the Web pertaining to this story I'm not going to go into specifics. Instead, I'll offer a few sound bites and comments.
- Dave Martin died of blood loss. His leg was almost severed and reports confirm he died in less than an hour after the attack. Based on comments made by his son and other members of his family, he was not afraid, nor was he the type of person who would want what happened to him to cause people to be afraid of the beaches and waters he so loved.
- The thought of being attacked by a huge predator is probably considered the scariest of all prospects to most people. However, survivors of large predator attacks typically speak of the actual occurrence as a painless experience. This is because the fear impulse is so strong it basically thrusts us into a state of shock. It's not until afterwards that it hurts.
- Someone in the media apparently suggested that the shark attacked Dave Martin because it was protecting its pups. You would be hard pressed to find a more ludicrous statement. As one shark expert responded: "Great whites are more likely to eat their young." For the most part, they spit them out and take off.
- The wires were carrying updates about how the Coast Guard and Marine patrol were out looking for the shark. I'm wondering why. How would they know if they were looking at the right shark, and even if they were, what were they planning to do once they found it. Great whites are s protected species.
- I can't speak more highly of this man's family for the way they have been dealing with this tragedy. I don't know them from Adam but their interviews and statements to the press project an air of understanding and acceptance. We're guests in the ocean. It is a wilderness. Anything can happen.
- I have seen two great whites in my day, both very small and both off mid-coast of Maine.