Since the upsetting shark attack that occurred on April 29th at San Onofre’s Church break, there have been rumors circulating the lineup that the estimated 9-11-foot shark might have been drawn to the unsuspecting gal because she was on her period.
All jokes and assumptions aside, no factual evidence was discovered, not even a drop.
In fact–read Surfline’s exclusive interview with the recovering victim here.
And since I’ve heard this hilarious rumor, most of the guys I happen to surf around seemingly shift their locations further away from me, which is great if I’m waiting for waves at the peak.
Hmmm, maybe I’ll finally paddle out to Lowers this summer. :D
[Paddles out to Lowers and yells in womanly agony: “Oh mah gah, these CRAMPS!!”]
While surfing at Salt Creek this past May, I not only noticed that everyone was huddled unusually close together at the peak, but I also noted that the topic of conversation was primarily about our infamous grey-suited landlord. Everyone’s ears seemed to perk up as each news development surfaced about the recent attack while a coast guard helicopter patrolled overhead.
Each person’s shifty eyes would widen as I paddled closer to the peak, until someone approached me mid-conversation and blurted:
“You notice how all of the attacks are on women? It’s because they’re on their period,” he jokingly said. “I’d not surf here if I were you. You could be putting everyone at risk.”
OH yes, my very educated friend, it’s true. Every woman you see in the lineup is just constantly bleeding–we are nothing more than swimming/paddling/surfing chum machines, and are using the ocean as our personal maxi pad. We purposefully decide to park it by you in hopes that one day our ocean animal friends will seek and destroy you, mwahahahahaha.
I CONFESS: In the middle of my dark inner monologue and lonely three foot bubble, I began to wonder…is it true? Does a woman’s fun “time of the month” necessarily attract sharks? I mean, we all have to wonder and at some point, I know we all HAVE wondered this borderline sexist thought.
“This is a misconception that a drop of blood drives sharks from miles away into a feeding frenzy,” said Dr. Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of California State University-Long Beach’s Shark Lab. “Everybody who is in the water is exuding many of the same amino acids that are found in blood. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, whether you’re having your period or not, you’re exuding many of the same compounds that a shark can detect.”
BOOM. Put that one to rest! Dr. Lowe was recently featured in my piece: “Canary in the Coal Mine: Increase in Great White Shark Population is a GOOD Sign for Southern California”
In addition to our male/female bodily …functions (?) being pretty much equal in the water, Dr. Lowe points out quantity, in this case, is also a factor to consider.
“The amount of blood a woman exudes during her period is miniscule,” said Dr. Lowe. “It’s not nearly enough to put an animal into that kind of feeding mode. So that’s very different from somebody who has a severe cut and is putting lots of blood into the water.”
Pictured is a juvenile great white shark off of Manhattan Beach.
Photo credit: Cal State Long Beach Shark lab
Additionally, menstrual blood is not really considered real “blood” that sharks interested in. According to Popular Science’s No, menstrual blood does not attract sharks, in addition to a shark like a great white’s ability to detect a trace amount of blood in only 100 liters of water (1/25,000th of an Olympic swimming pool!), even when sharks are snouting about, they are interested in marine mammal blood and guts–not ours.
Although it’s pretty inconclusive about what exactly sharks are inclined to attack in general, sharks have been documented to prefer sound instead of sight or smell, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Northeast Fishery Science Center (NEFSC). For millions of years, sharks have been programmed to detect struggling prey and movement. Colors also play a role in a shark’s interest and there is a specific attraction to silver, white and yellow–the same colors as a shark’s prey.
I recall my friend Sean paddling out to a break in Humboldt–often known for it’s cold, rainy and sharky conditions. Shark encounters are more frequent near this area, as it’s located just north of the “Red Triangle” and instead of baby great white sharks, they get the big guys from our nightmares. Not quite megalodon proportions, but if you were to tell me marine biologists discovered one in this region, it wouldn’t surprise me.
Much like the topography, most whites cruising the Northern California coast are much much larger because they can handle the colder water temps, although, they do prefer the more temperate waters, such as most of the Californian, Australian and South African coastlines. In fact, fully developed great whites are warm bodied, so they can adjust to water temperatures.
Humboldt Redwood forests galore!
After my friend paddled out to aforementioned peak, a girl approached him in a panic and announced:
“I’m on my period!! Am I going to get attacked by a shark??”
I picture my salty friend rolling his eyes after this comment, maybe even chuckling a little.
To conclude: If you’re on the rag, it does not mean you or you’re surfing/swimming buddies are on the menu.