by Jerry Vovcsko
"It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top." Hunter S. Thompson
I ran across that remark recently while I was rereading some of Hunter's short stories in all their Gonzo brilliance. Got me thinking about what he'd make of all the great white shark activity in Cape waters over the past couple of years. Makes perfect sense he'd see it in terms of the silly hubris we humans embrace in our dealings with other creatures – in this case an apex predator. Hunter wouldn't be terribly troubled by the notion of a huge shark taking a chunk out of some tourist's ample derriere…and when you get right down to it, neither am I.
This does seem to be the Year of the Shark around these parts. There was even a sighting ten miles inland in the Taunton River. The first report was checked out by harbormaster Ron Marino and he found a ten to twelve foot sand tiger shark cruising in shallow waters. But then another sighting came in about a much bigger shark, also seen in the river. That one turned out to be a basking shark, a creature that grows to around thirty feet as it reaches adulthood.
Then we heard that officials had closed the beach in Duxbury because a great white had been spotted just offshore. A few locals took the opportunity to write "You're gonna need a bigger boat" in the sand, a reference familiar to all fans of Steven Spielberg's seminal shark-horror film, Jaws. This visit was followed by another great white sighting near Chatham with its colony of seals as the primary lure de jour.
Wednesday's sighting is the third in ten days after sharks were spotted near Duxbury Beach and off the coast of Chatham, and the recent slew of sightings closes out a summer that felt like it was full of sharks. And then this past week a great white shark bit into a kayak off the coast of Plymouth tumbling two frightened but unharmed kayakers into the water where they were rescued by the Plymouth Harbormaster.
So, yeah, this was definitely shark-time around Cape Cod waters even though nobody was eaten by one of these apex predators. And, hey, at least we didn't have to contend with a deadly albino cobra like the one that ran loose for days in a Southern California neighborhood was captured Thursday.
"We are overjoyed. We are glad that the public was not harmed," Los Angeles County spokesman Brandon Dowling said after county animal control officers nabbed the monocled cobra.
The venom of the cobra is a neurotoxin that can kill within an hour. Television reports showed officers using a long-handled tong-like grabber to haul the snake from a pile of scrap lumber in a backyard and put it in a long wooden box. So, no thanks, we'll stick to great whites and California can keep any and all assorted cobras out there in La La Land. Seems only fair to me.
Nantucket Sound may not have registered any great white shark action this season but it sure has its share of albacore activity going on right now.
Pods of albies have been herding baitfish every which way and anglers have probably tossed a cumulative ton of metals at the speedy little tunnies. In lieu of metals, those holographic Yozuri swimmers bring good results for folks able to get close enough to lob one in front of the cruising albies. Local Canal-rats heaved metal slabs and performed high-speed retrieves with good results during the week and that action should continue through the weekend.
Striper catch reports have been sporadic although a few locals have done very well around Quicks Hole and out near Penikese Island. Penikese offers excellent tautog action because of the rock-studded bottom structure that surrounds the island. Bluefish can still be had just about anywhere in Nantucket Sound and some bigger blues have been taken in the rips south of Nantucket Island.
Tube and worm is a good bet to produce along the shoreline from Scussett Beach around toward Manomet. But kayakers in particular should keep an eye out around Manomet Point as that was the location of the last great white sighting. And the back beaches, from Nauset to Race Point, have been kind to surf anglers lobbing live eels into the wash, especially between dusk and dark…just don't get too far out there in waders and such. As Game of Thrones characters are fond of pronouncing, the night is dark and full of terrors. At least for those who didn't get a bigger boat.
I started this thing with a Hunter Thompson quote; guess it's only right to wrap it up with a line about Doctor Gonzo. So how about this one by Frank Kelly Rich, editor and publisher of Modern Drunkard Magazine:
"There was always a powerful comfort in knowing he was out there somewhere in the night, roaring drunk, guzzling high-octane whiskey and railing against a world amok with complacency and hypocrisy."
Yeah, well, Hunter's not with us any more…when the aches and pains and depression got to be too much, he checked out with a .44 magnum bullet to the brain while talking with his wife on the phone. While he was around though, he stomped the terra…and left his Gonzo mark on the literature. So RIP, Hunter…you had a helluva run while it lasted.