Only Phill can save us from Septima this Shark Week

Date Published: 
August 15, 2014

For an avid ocean-goer, or for me at least, there are few things more terrifying than the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.” There are, however, a couple of things that come close — the obviously inevitable “Zombie Apocalypse,” my ex-girlfriend getting a hold of my new phone number, somehow getting stuck in line at the bank behind Gary Busey… The list goes on.

But despite my very real concerns about those seemingly unlikely scenarios, Shark Week wins every time when it comes to fear factor — especially this year.

As the event happens during the same week every August, I’m usually able to convince myself that a shark would be far more likely to go after my friend Phill — who would be a much more hearty meal and much more likely to attract a great white, with his matching purple hat and longboard.

This year, however, I haven’t quite been able to do that — in part because Phill has of late taken to fishing more so than surfing and because my other surf buddy, Blair, refuses to wear his hat. But mostly it’s because of Septima — the 13-foot, 1,000-pound tiger shark currently lurking in the Atlantic that has pinged off both the Isle of Wight and the Indian River Inlet recently.

That’s right — I said tiger shark. You know — the kind that’s widely regarded as one of the most dangerous shark species in the world and is more commonly found in tropical and temperate waters, like those around the central Pacific islands.

As I write this late Tuesday night, with my alarm set for 5:30 a.m. to head down to Assateague for an early morning surf, that last paragraph just gave me goosebumps. Here it is Shark Week... There’s gonna be waves. Septima is back in town, and Phill says he can’t surf tomorrow because his girlfriend, Chelsea, is making him help her pick out tile at Lowe’s before work.

It’s the perfect storm for me to be fish food. In fact, I’m starting to wonder whether or not I’ll be in the Sports section or the Obituaries by the time the paper hits newsstands on Thursday.

My main concern isn’t that tiger sharks have accounted for the second-most attacks on people since the International Shark Attack Files started keeping statistics. It isn’t that they’re believed to “not resist” attacking humans or that I keep seeing pictures of their teeth when incessantly googling these facts that I wouldn’t otherwise know. It’s that Septima really seems to like our area. She was pinging off Assateague and the Isle of Wight just last week and, after a brief stint up north, returned to check out the Indian River Inlet.

Now I get it, Septima — the Delaware beaches are pretty cool. We just hosted the Skimboarding World Championships in Dewey Beach, the Indian River Inlet Bridge is certainly something to see all lit up at night, and celebrities have even been known to vacation here. Phill even says he played basketball with Doug Flutie at the courts in Bethany once — although I’m not sure if I believe him. He doesn’t play basketball and spends a lot of his free time picking out tile.

But even with the possibility of a chance pickup game with Flutie, I don’t quite understand why Septima is hanging around here instead of heading down to Hawaii and scaring away haoles with the rest of her tiger shark friends.

All you can really do in a situation like this is realize that Septima isn’t the only shark in the sea. I got bumped just last week during the Hurricane Bertha swell and, after a quick bout of panic and considering immediately getting out of the water, I looked around at a crowded and unconcerned lineup and reassured myself that chances are it wasn’t Septima — and even if it was, she wasn’t looking for me.

After making a few shark jokes with my buddies, I got back to surfing, and eventually we made it to our ritual after-surf meal at Jakarta’s Indonesian Grille to eat lunch, which I can only assume was much more enjoyable than being lunch would have been.

I could make an excuse to not go surfing tomorrow when Blair comes knocking on my door bright and early with a smile on his face and a bar of wax in his hand. Maybe my alarm didn’t go off. Maybe I forgot to write a story before press deadline. Maybe Chelsea suddenly digs my taste in tile and is now dragging me to Lowe’s. But that’s not what I’m gonna do (especially that last one).

These summer-swell type of days don’t come around often, but they’re the ones that I always remember when they do. I don’t usually remember the days where I picked up an extra shift, or finally got around to power-washing the deck. I don’t remember the days where I weeded the driveway or ran the errands I had been putting off. It’s the ones where I wrote until 2 a.m. to get all my work done so I could get up at 5 to get down to Assateague for low tide that always stick out.

For tomorrow, at least, nothing is going to stop me from the start of one of those kind of days — not work or sleep or excuses, and certainly not Septima. Besides, Phill and Doug Flutie are probably out there right now, shooting some hoops in Bethany and plotting to catch that thing anyways.