Of sharks, gators, snapping turtles and other creatures that lurk in the deep.

My favorite scene in the quirky 2004 flick "The Life Aquatic" has Bill Murray, portraying an eccentric oceanographer, embarked on a mission to slay a rare jaguar shark that ate his partner.

Asked why a respected marine scientist dedicated to wildlife preservation would want to kill an endangered species, Murry shrugs his shoulders.

"Revenge," he replies.

I thought of this straightforward response the other day when I read about a 17-year-old Florida boy whose right arm was torn off by an 11-foot alligator while swimming in a pond with two friends.

A hunter killed the gator, and after the boy's arm was retrieved from the reptile’s stomach doctors tried unsuccessfully to reattach it.

Recovering in the hospital, the boy was asked if there was anything he desired.

He thought for a moment and said, “I want his head.”

I certainly sympathize with the kid, and am sure I’d feel less than charitable toward any critter that took a bite out of me, but at the same time can’t really fault any predatory animal for abiding its natural instincts.

I maintain this attitude despite having been chased a few times on land and sea by hungry marauders.

I remember feeling overwhelming relief a number of years ago when I saw the grizzly bear that had charged me while I camped in Alaska being whisked away by helicopter to a remote region after I reported the incident to park rangers.

I was relieved not just that the aggressive ursine no longer would harm me or any other hapless hiker, but that the rangers simply hadn’t shot and killed it.

Likewise, I bear no grudge against the enormous shark that circled our 8-foot rowboat years earlier when a friend and I crossed Long Island Sound at night.

The stampeding yaks that almost trampled me in Nepal while I crossed a rickety suspension bridge certainly didn’t know any better.

I’ve felt queasy a few times while swimming in close proximity to snapping turtles as big as manhole covers, and on more than one occasion have made hasty wet exits from my kayak after discovering snake stowaways in the cockpit.

As loyal readers may know, I’ve never been a hunter and haven’t fished for decades.

For the most part I no longer am evangelical about my objections to these “sports” since nobody likes to be harangued about their hobbies – but I make an exception when it comes to those who kill gratuitously or for trophies.

On camping trips up north I often enjoy stopping in at local coffee shops and diners for a final meal before heading into the wild, or for a first meal after days on the trail. One such café cured me of that appetite, though: Its walls were covered with the stuffed heads of moose, deer, lynx, coyote and dozens of other animals.

How can that be appetizing?

And those lobster tanks in seafood restaurants? I just don’t get it.

I also don’t understand why television stations and newspapers, including this one, broadcast or print photographs of giant dead fish hanging next to or being held up by proud fishermen who reeled them in. For me, this is the lowest form of lionization.

I’d rather see an empty net above the caption, “The one that got away.”

The season is early; great white sharks have been spotted off Cape Cod, so it’s only a matter of time before some determined angler is photographed next to “Jaws.”

I remember reading an interview with Peter Benchley, author of that celebrated novel, in which he lamented the rash of wanton shark killings his book inspired.

I suppose the recent incident in Florida, along with such grotesque TV shows as “Gator Boys” and “Swamp People,” will provoke increased senseless slaughter.

See you later, alligators.

 

 

 

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

Two's Company, Three Hundred's A Crowd – On The Trail Or On A Sidewalk

While kayaking the 341-mile Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany a few years ago I spotted another paddler a mile or so away headed in my direction. Having encountered only one or two other kayaks nearly a week into what turned out to be an...

Wouldn't It Be Wonderful To Hibernate?

When I pried a rock up with a mattock the other day, rushing to finish a small retaining wall before the ground froze, I inadvertently disturbed a hibernating spotted salamander’s winter home.

Happy Days Are Here Again: Cheap Fuel And Gas-Guzzlers!

Isn’t life great?! Gas is so cheap now I can get rid of my puny, poky, fuel-efficient econobox and get behind the wheel of an auto with plenty of ponies under the hood that any American would be proud to drive, just like the good...

Siri To The Rescue!

"Siri, how much farther to the summit?"

A-hunting We Will Go

Blam! Blam! Blam!

Urban Excursions: Finding Adventure In The Big City

A brisk autumn breeze scattered crimson maple leaves that fluttered from trees lining a pond glittering in the morning sun as my friend Bob Graham and I loped along a narrow path the other morning.

My Friend The Log Splitter: Leaf Blowers Notwithstanding, Not All Machines Are Evil

After my overwhelming victory last year in a rake vs. leafblower contest I hoped I’d heard the last of those infernal, noisy, polluting contraptions — but while out for a run the other day, savoring the fall foliage, a familiar whine as...

Welcome To Steve's Lumberjack Camp

Good morning! I hope you all had a good night’s sleep, enjoyed the griddle cakes and are eager to work off those calories.

At Nayaug Canoe And Kayak Race, A Win Is A Win Is A Win — Sort Of

Race starts are notoriously adventurous — jackrabbits at the line itching to shove and elbow their way into the lead; clueless slowpokes poised for pileups; nerve-jangled competitors, fueled by surging adrenaline, chattering...

Rocks In My Head, Part 37,482

Descending New Hampshire’s Mount Washington in a blizzard some time ago, a friend and I briefly strayed from the ice-encrusted Lion Head Trail – not all that surprising considering wind-whipped snow reduced our visibility to...

Hey, Unless Your Head Is Made Of Cement, Wear A Bike Helmet!

Last Saturday was glorious, perhaps the last sunny, warm day of the season, so a couple friends and I set out for a 50-plus-mile ride on Rhode Island’s magnificent East Bay Bike Path, one of my favorite places to pedal.

How to freeze your - - - off in four easy steps

I know you’ll find this rather shocking, but all those white things in the new picture of me aren’t really snowflakes – they’re feathers from an old pillow, which we thought would be a clever way to illustrate a...

Hey, Unless Your Head Is Made Of Cement, Wear A Bike Helmet!

Last Saturday was glorious, perhaps the last sunny, warm day of the season, so a couple friends and I set out for a 50-plus-mile ride on Rhode Island’s magnificent East Bay Bike Path, one of my favorite places to pedal.

Forget San Juan Capistrano – If You Want to See Hundreds of Thousands of Swallows, Check Out the Lower Connecticut River

Like the first snowflakes of an approaching blizzard, a small flurry of tiny birds flitted across the slow-moving water of the Connecticut River earlier this week, just as the sun began to dip below the western bank in Old Saybrook.