Posted by: Jacob Crawford | September 23, 2011

What did I miss?

I have to admit, the movie Jaws scarred me as a child. I was about eight on that fateful day. My parents had turned on the television and left the room and, being the good child that I was, I watched their movie for them. The worst thing is, not only did I become afraid of the ocean, I also became afraid of most lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. At the time we were living in Texas during a drought and there were no bodies of water nearby for me to realize my fear; in fact, I had no idea I was terrified of water for almost two years. When we moved to Florida, we just happened to get a house on a lake. That was when I realized that water I could stand in was all right, but water I could neither stand in nor see through was absolutely the worst thing on the planet. This was bad in an area where seventy-five to ninety-five percent of pastimes involved one or more bodies of water. I feebly tried to overcome my fears in my backyard, but after several seeming near death experiences I was through with that.

It wasn’t until years later that I was finally able to somewhat overcome my fear of water. I remember several mission trips with my church that I was apprehensive of participating in just because there is always a beach day involved. I would join in of course, but only as far as I could stand and see the ocean floor (I think the term is “wading”). I was about sixteen when I finally got the nerve to do something really crazy: I was going to go tubing! Now, this was not going to be tubing like what one does on the Ichetucknee River all relaxing and such. I was going to go with some friends and intentionally be pulled at thirty miles an hour behind a boat over some seriously deep and choppy water. That day changed my life. I thought I was going to die for sure that time. After the initial shock was over, I realized that there was no giant shark lurking beneath me and me alone. There was no enormous carnivore that only wanted my torso or limbs for dinner. I actually enjoyed myself!

One of the last mission trips I went on after my “conversion” was to St. Petersburg. Once again there was a beach day. This time, however, I enjoyed the salt water properly. When we were packing up to go home, I kept thinking to myself, “why didn’t I do that sooner? I could have been enjoying this for years!” We watched the sun go down over the Gulf before we left. That was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. I think that the fact that I had had a new life experience coupled with the actual beauty of the ocean has made that a sight that cannot be surpassed.

In the same way, reading Carson and Earle have changed the way that I look at sea creatures, and wildlife in general. I had not before read literature that was so in depth about creatures of the sea. Carson was effective in enabling me to empathize with the various “characters” and their plights. Earle was effective in helping my understanding also, but from a more logical and scientific viewpoint. I always knew that there was a huge web of wildlife striving for survival in the sea, but never before has it been so apparent how humans’ choices affect them.


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