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Finneran: A Cape Cod Tree-Hugger’s Treason

Friday, August 03, 2018


A growing number of Americans seem to hate humanity. Many of those same Americans seem to blindly worship wild animals.

I don’t.

For example, I see no value whatsoever in Canada geese. They are filthy obnoxious fowl. They should be slaughtered before they ruin more parks, ponds, and playing fields. I put human beings first in the value equation.

Similarly, on Cape Cod, now over-run with many thousands of “cute” seals, I elevate the residents and visitors of the region over the five hundred pound fish-slaughtering poop machines described as cute seals.

Query: When does a species numbering in the millions (Canada geese) or the many thousands (seals) come off the endangered list? Ever? Never?

The question becomes timely and relevant because of the natural sequence of events. It is also timely and relevant because of the danger which now lurks off our shores. Great white sharks.

I don’t blame the sharks for what they do. They are natural predators, sleek hunting machines, at the top of the food chain and they just follow the groceries—in this case the thousands of seals we so zealously protect.

A prediction: Within the next few years, a human being will be attacked by a shark in Cape Cod waters. Will it be fatal? Who knows? If it’s a young child I’d say it’s likely. Someone will then have some explaining to do regarding our worship of seals.

Local shark experts now estimate that there are more than three hundred great white sharks prowling off the beaches of the National Seashore and Cape Cod Bay. Three hundred! These are the same waters used by thousands of swimmers, surfers, paddle-boarders, kayakers, and water skiers. A conflict looms.

Two suggestions which might reduce the odds of an attack without harming the sharks in any way:

First, consider shark nets along the National Seashore. Place them during the months of April through October—the height of the public season-- and then remove them before the storms of winter lash the coast.

Australia and South Africa use shark nets off some of their most dangerous beaches. They are not foolproof, but they clearly improve the odds for the beach-goers of those fair lands. The nets can keep the sharks a few hundred yards offshore, allowing thousands of families to enjoy carefree days at the beach. It’s a balanced equation rather than a purist’s fetish.

Second, consider using the sounds of an orca pod to move the sharks further offshore. Orcas, also known as killer whales, are a natural and dreaded predator of great white sharks.

A fascinating vignette from the “Devil’s Teeth”, a book about the alpha great white sharks which congregate around the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco, tells the tale:

When a pod of orcas swims through the surrounding waters emitting their calls and communication signals, the great white sharks scatter far and wide, not wanting to encounter the orcas in any way.

Are we not capable of capturing those sounds and using hydrophones to scatter the sharks from our immediate shores? Why would we hesitate to use the technology and imitate nature as a means of protecting ourselves and enjoying our waters?

Purists will rage about mankind’s interference with the natural order of things, accusing us of disrupting the sharks’ world for our own vanities and pleasure. I’m not a purist.

I see true spiritual value in human beings as the best of God’s astounding creations and I do not worship Canada geese.

I’m a tree-hugger with a brain and common sense. Buy some shark nets.

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio.


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