*I just watched the film classic Jaws last week. It’s STILL the scariest film I’ve ever seen. I still remember seeing it for the first time as a kid. My love of the water is what made it so terrifying, even when I was old enough to realize how fictionalized the story was. I mean, really…a monstrous great white shark terrorizing a coastal resort town? Never.
How about “now!”
The locals on Stewart Island, New Zealand claim that a human feeding frenzy is inevitable. Ever since businesses there started offering shark cage-diving experiences almost ten years ago, they say the sharks that have always been close have gotten much more aggressive. Some have even begun attacking boats.
“We see them all the time and not just one,” says one 72-year-old lifelong resident, who rarely recalls seeing a shark up close while he was growing up. “Sometimes there are three or four surrounding our boats. We are being targeted, and it’s only a matter of time before they get someone.”
A group of islanders have petitioned the city to shut the shark cage-diving operations down. “It’s like Jaws anonymous out there,” says one local fisherman.
Stewart Island is home to just 380 people, but it’s a popular tourist spot so there are a lot of people from which Jaws can feed. Shark cage-diving companies lure the big fish to shore with baited hooks or buckets of chum (bloodied meat parts), then lower paying tourists down in cages from their boats to get an up-close and personal look.
At least one dive operator says that the locals’ fears are overblown and that the current criticism has been going on for years. “We’ve probably become immune to it,” he says.
For their sake, I hope so. Suffice it to say that I won’t be adding Stewart Island, New Zealand to my travel destination bucket list!