Let's Kill the Big Bad Shark

o there are these big bad crocodiles threatening animals and people and we are all concerned about to handle this matter. Well, let me tell you that this is not an unusual case for twenty five years ago there were many of these such problems and the folks only knew to handle it one way.

Now I will tell you of a few cases I do not really agree with, but that is how it was. When there were too many dogs in the village, people took it on their responsibility to reduce the population of stray dogs. Whenever a new litter was born, they would be placed in a bag and someone took them to the lagoon and dumped them into the water. This was when the owner of the dog wanted no more puppies. At times, they would keep the male puppies and kill all the females for these were responsible for the over population as they saw it. The same was true of cats and kittens.

Now on the real story of sharks. There have always been sharks in the waters of Ambergris Caye, but at times we would hear of some large and dangerous shark in the vicinity of the village where the children would go swimming. The shark would be considered dangerous if it remained in the area for too long and especially if it was a hammerhead shark. That would mean that it had found a feeding ground and could attack any swimmer. According to the islanders in the 1950's, that shark had to be killed. That was not too complicated. A group of fishermen got into a boat and circled the area and when spotted, they would strike it with a harpoon. When captured, the shark would be brought to town and the entire village came out to see the spectacle and breathe a sigh of relief for the bad shark had finally been eliminated. No photographs were taken for there were no cameras back then. The skin was salted and preserved, and the meat would be salted and sold, of course. If the animal was too fast, then the men would set a shark's net somewhere between the beach and the reef and leave it overnight. The next morning there would surely be several sharks entangled in the net and many times the "big, bad shark". If the monster did not fall that night, the net would be set several times until that specific one was captured. A third and very effective way was to catch it with a fishing line using a very large hook and live fish bait. I recall some twelve and fourteen foot sharks landed like that by several fishermen who did it more as a civic duty rather than a sport or as a source of income.

Dolphins were always spotted near the beach, but they were never killed. Raccoons that overturned the garbage containers and made quite a mess were killed with a stick or paddle, but that is if you could catch them for they were quite fast and astute. Don't ask about snakes. When people spotted a snake twenty five years ago, it would mean a commotion and people would not be satisfied until that snake was dead.

It is a bit different today. There is much thought in conserving animals, game fish, certain birds, and many land animals. We teach everyone to try to protect these animals so that our future generations may enjoy them. That is all good as long as we can enjoy them, like cats and dogs, and toucans. But if the animals become dangerous, like the sharks, then I tend to prefer the method of Twenty Five Years Ago.

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