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July 28, 2009

How to deal with sharks

Recently I came across the following piece of advice on how to deal with sharks.

"Divers have fierce encounters with sharks," the writer observed. "The only safe course is to turn on the sharks and frighten them. For sharks fear men just as much as men fear them, which means that in deep water they have an even chance. When the diver reaches the surface the situation is critical for him, because he loses his means of attack as he tries to get out of the water, and his safety is completely dependent on his shipmates. These pull on a rope tied to his shoulders. He keeps up the struggle and tugs on the rope with his left hand, as a danger signal, while his right hand holds his knife and is busy fighting."

While one might argue with these observations and suggestions, they are not unreasonable and I've probably read similar in dozens of modern books. I mention "modern" because the above passage was written almost two thousand years ago by a Roman author and philosopher named Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as Pliny the Elder. I've been reading Pliny's "Natural History," which is sort of an overall compendium of pretty much everything that was known at the time of the Roman Empire, which was quite a bit. Some (though by no means all) of it is spot-on and sounds amazingly contemporary. It really surprises me that I can go to Amazon and order, or download, what a man wrote almost two millennia ago when so much of history has only survived as hearsay or vague, archaic-sounding translations of translations.

Pliny also wrote of dolphins, whales, pearls, sponges, oysters, crabs and many others. Of course, Pliny, who died in 79AD while trying to rescue friends from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, was also of the opinion that "shellfish are the prime cause of the decline of morals and the adoption of an extravagant life style." Take that, you guys on "Deadliest Catch"!

Posted by conradb212 at July 28, 2009 03:01 AM

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