Creatures Great and Small

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Mon 22 Dec 2014 14:03

20 to 30 million sharks are killed every year by humans through commercial and sport fishing. Many species are now threatened with extinction or are at risk. These numbers are shocking.

In contrast, on average 75 humans are attacked by sharks each year, of these 10 die. You have a better 'chance' of dying from a bee sting, a dog or snake bite, or lightning than from a shark attack.

There are more than 300 species of sharks, but very few of these are considered dangerous to humans. In fact, three species - the white, tiger, and bull sharks - are responsible for the vast majority of human fatalities while the oceanic white-tip shark is more common in the open ocean and can also be aggressive, though any shark over 6 feet (1.8 m) in length should be considered potentially dangerous.

Sharks attack when they are trapped in nets, cornered or teased by divers and when they are hungry though usually humans are not their preferred diet ("that seal tasted of pork again, yuk!").

I am paranoid about being attacked by a shark, I don't like the idea of a surprise bite out of the blue. George Burgess, Senior Biologist at the University of Florida and Director of the International Shark Attack File provides the following information to avoid becoming dinner:

1. Don't swim on your own.

2. Don't wander too far from shore.

3. Avoid going in the water at night, dawn, or dusk, this is when sharks hunt.

4. Don't enter the water if bleeding. Sharks can smell and taste blood, and trace it back to its source. Don't wee either!

5. Don't wear shiny jewellery. The reflected light looks like shining fish scales.

6. Don't go into waters containing sewage. (hardly a good idea anyway!)

7. Avoid waters being fished and those with lots of fish bait or waste.

8. Don't enter the water if sharks are present. (no kidding!)

9. Avoid an uneven tan (a strong case for nudism, then?) and brightly coloured clothing.

10. Don't splash a lot.

11. Use care near sandbars or steep drop-offs. These are favourite hangouts for sharks

13. Don't try to touch a shark if you see one!

14. If attacked by a shark, the general rule is "Do whatever it takes to get away!" Some people have successfully chosen to be aggressive, others passive. Some yelled underwater, others blew bubbles. I personally would go down fighting.

Evil weevil

We make our own bread on Caramor; sometimes we use powder yeast and at other times we use the sourdough starter that Mick the baker from Bethesda gave us, it has its origins steeped in history.

When in Morocco I bought some very nice flour (not from the market as I didn't quite trust how clean it would be) from the new supermarket 'Carrefour' (a French concern). The 'supermarket' experience was interesting in itself, it was more like a 'supersoukh" than a supermarket as we know them. The flour section had a bag of each type open so that the customer could see, touch and smell the quality before buying.

I also have a couple of bags left from the UK of 'three malts and sunflower' flour which makes very nice bread and contains linseeds.

I made bread the other day and stared in horror as the 'linseeds' crawled up the sides of the bowl, I then remembered I had only used my Moroccan white flour (no linseed) so the 'linseeds' were in fact weevils. Flour and weevils went overboard, I'm sure the sharks won't mind.

Franco says that "any good sailor should always choose the lesser of the two weevils" (with apologies to Captain Aubrey RN).

A few days later I reached for my sourdough starter out the fridge, it looked flat, smelled rank and had what looked like little sticks in it. I had replenished it with my Moroccan flour which at the time must have been full of weevil eggs, they hatched and the maggots had died in the mix. The sad end of a historic starter. I am now cultivating a new "Gomera" starter; so far not a success.

JPEG image

First loaf made with the Gomera starter - anaemic and flat