Should You Surf The Crimson Wave In Shark Infested Waters? Perhaps We'll Never Know.

Because who among us will paddle board off Seal Island to see?
Publish date:
August 17, 2012
periods, Shark Week, attracting sharks

I don't want to suggest that women aren't as dumb as men because, you know, feminism. I've certainly done stupid things in the name of testing the limits of the human experience, like waiting/hoping longer than 72 hours to take Plan B. Need I go on?

But when it comes to nature-y wild life-y risk-your-life adventures I'm going to venture out on a dangerously gender generalizing limb here and say women aren't the first to raise their hands. (Jane Goodall et all notwithstanding). Case in point: Shark Week.

While browsing through the morning news (alright my Twitter feed) a few days ago I came across this story in Mother Jones of all places, "Do Menstruating Women Attract Sharks?"

Being 12 in my heart of hearts, my first thought, of course, was "Duh!"

My childhood got forked between urban Los Angeles and the sleepy fishing village/tourist trap of Catalina Island. On Catalina, it was known that if you were on your period you could never go into the water least you be murdered by menstrual blood thirsty great white sharks. It was known.

Obviously as a grown woman I know better. But do I? Do I?

Thankfully there were absolutely no sharks harmed in the taking of this photo off the coast of Negril, Jamaica.

In the Mother Jones article the reporter contacts several different experts who all say several different things on the matter of surfing the crimson wave whilst surrounded by sharks:

"If it's a young lady for whom it's that time of the month," he added, sounding somewhat uncomfortable, "it's better to be safe than sorry. Better to wait till everything is back to normal to go into the ocean."

But then there's this:

"I've been diving for decades and even got my period while underwater with a school of hammerheads—the sharks were not interested and I had to fin like crazy to get close to them,"

And also:

Menstrual blood almost certainly can be detected by a shark, and I'm sure urine can be as well. Do we have positive evidence that it is a factor in shark attack? No...

So there you don't have it, ladies. According to those old school Playtex/Tampax/Kotex/Maxi commercials you can freaking fight crime on your period -- but not shark-on-woman crime.

It's no surprise that this age-old question is polaris breaching the ocean's surface during Discovery Channel's Shark Week, which, while increasing the visibility and understanding of these beautifully powerful creatures, also showcases crazy shit (mostly) guys do.

"This next man is a pioneer when it comes to risking life and limb," intones the infamous Shark Week announcer when mentioning the first underwater cinematographer to film sharks in open water sans cage. Is that a category you'd ever want to be a pioneer of? Maybe it is, and if so I don't know if we can hang on a Saturday night.

Another guy, Dr. Rocky Strong, climbs on top of an icy and slippery dead whale currently being snacked on by 27 sharks in order to get a close up of their "biting habits."

"This is about the dumbest thing I've ever done," admits Dr. Strong, who gets the shot without becoming a human entree.

Lacking a rotting whale to use as a floatation device, Chris Fallows decides to try paddle boarding for the first time with a great white as his coach.

"The shark is swimming straight towards me and it would've been very interesting if I'd fallen in the water," says Fallows. Yes, "interesting" is exactly the word I'd choose.

What I'm getting at is these guys (and the ladies who always seem to stay firmly INSIDE the boat) are willing to do some wild shit for science. Are you?

According to the Mother Jones article, "Until some menstruating and non-menstruating divers volunteer to take part in a controlled test we'll never prove it."

I'd love to someday tell my imaginary daughter that her and her friends can swim in the ocean with a plug up their nose and their vagina without a care in the world. But I'm too chicken to find out. Some better woman should lead the charge to the sea with blood seeping through her bottoms while the rest of us beached seals watch what happens live.