A Shark-Bit Man Gets the Full Emergency Response Treatment; Bonnet Nature Trail Is Lookin’ Good Though Bazookas Are a Must

By JAY MANN | Aug 22, 2018

SHARK BITES MAN: I’ve gotten updated word that a shark bite incident in Surf City last week was just that ... a man positively bitten by a shark! Call out the Marines, right?! Not so fast, Kimosabe. (For original report, go to fishlbi.com or jaymanntoday.ning.com.)

Now that I have the whole story, it’s not as one might think in the wake of a 911 dispatch alerting that a 23-year-old male had gotten bitten on the upper thigh by a shark. Adding some spook to things, it took place in the dark. Eeks! How could one not envision someone jumping in the black ocean and getting chomped upon by any of an assortment of nocturnal sharks? I sure did, as did many a first responder.

The 911 dispatch sparked what might be called a double full-blown emergency response, one worthy of a shark attack scenario. Such a response in the summer not only utilizes tons of manpower and resources, but also places lives at risk, as first responders take on crowded Island road conditions.

Well, it truly was a shark bite, but not of the sort that renders you unwilling to even get near the ocean for the rest of the summer. It turns out a surfcaster was put upon by the legendary “land shark.” Knock, knock. “Candygram.”

Reality sandwich: The angler had caught and landed a large, heavily-dentured type of shark, exact species unknown. He then proceeded to carry out the growingly traditional step after besting a sharkacious whopper. Out came the selfie camera.

Geez, how did you ever guess what happened next?

Not only was said shark in an apex-predator rage over being pulled out of its domain, but the sight of a selfie in progress only added to its rage. Able to see both in the dark and out of water, the landed fish willfully went deep-thigh on the fisherman, maybe even thinking, “Wait until 911 gets this call.”

The bleeding angler called in the shark bite, and the full-scale emergency response kicked in. The chomped-one-good fisherman was apparently successfully treated, though new laws prevent further disclosure of either the first aid or hospital treatment details – unless the fellow wants to contact me at jmann99@hotmail.com.

As to the lesson here, I’ll leave that in the hands of anglers – most of whom are still likely inclined to take the me-and-my-shark photo route.

And, yes, a goodly few of us are wondering how the selfie came out.

GIVING BACK TO NATURE, ISLAND-STYLE: I’m awaiting further details on a seemingly quite-cool proposal to create a nature area in Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, just southeast of Barney. I believe it’s in the same vicinity where dredge material was deposited last winter. This summer, the borough has been forced to close prime people-beach areas to accommodate some rudely-nesting piping plovers, unable to find sandy digs in the park. The thinking: A larger in-park nesting territory might keep the plovers in their proper and protected place.

Thinking back, that same vicinity used to experience a freakish freshwater wetlands-like area, pre-park. It was a weirdish freshwater showing considering the decidedly saltwater-oriented marine environment thereabouts. I’ve also read some historical references to freshwater “stands” there, mainly in spring.

North End folks might recall the bizarre quasi apocalyptic plague of tiny American toads (Anaxyrus americanus) that burst forth there not that many years back. There were thousands of them, to where the sand itself seemingly sprang to life. I’m betting those amphibians metamorphized within a protracted freshwater environment.

Rolling toadily along, LBI used to have tons of toads. Longer-toothed Islanders remember when virtually every outside shower had its quota of them, with an occasional squishy meet-up with one beneath a bare foot. Yuck. Then came the paving over and graveling of yards. It was bye-bye American pie – make that American toad.

ONWARD AND WETWARD: Staying wetlandish, let’s hop on over to another little-known freshwater area, located within the new Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge Cedar Bonnet Environmental Trail on Bonnet Island. That stand of freshwater wetlands is about 75 yards south of the parking area off Route 72. In winters way past, we used to ice skate on a smooth freshwater pond that would freeze solid there. The pond had none of the pits and air holes of unskateable saltwater ice.

While I never did much herping (searching for reptiles and amphibians) in that Bonnet Island wet zone – though I did capture a pine snake there in the ’60s – I’ll bet any number of amphibians can now thrive there, fully protected by the refuge. Might there still be toads a-hop along that trail? That can be easily detected next spring, during mating/calling season.

If toads no longer reside on Bonnet, might someone Mannually reintroduce them? Sadly, no. Laws state that even someone of a devoted spread-the-wildlife ilk can’t be translocating wildlife, such as frogs, toads or a ribbon snake or two. Of course, should something along the lines of a superhero-ish Incredible Masked Frogman arise one day from the swamps of Jersey …

TRAIL TALES AND TRAVAILS: I’ll be writing more on the new Bonnet nature walk. It’s soon to be well traveled, once folks find the walkway beneath the West Trestle Bridge, adjacent to Bonnet Island Estate.

I’m betting this environmental trail will shine during bird migration season, which begins any minute now.

In hyping this nature trail, I’d be bloody negligent – and possibly even blamed – if I didn’t reveal the occasionally insufferable biting insect presence there, mainly plaguing the first 150 yards beyond the entry point. Of course, should you be an entomologist hungering to conveniently find every bloodsucker that flies, all in one small area, you’ll be on the right trail.

I must also report on a growing fecal-matter matter, farther along the trail, especially out toward the east and west pavilions. I’ll lead in by suggesting that nobody related to the trail will care if you use violent bodily movements or harsh noisemaking methods to drive off the chronically crapping Canada geese that have taken up residency there. I’ll go as far as recommending a fall goose-hunting season there, during which bazookas and Napalm would be totally permissible. Oh, stop your gasping. For you bleeding goose hearts, I’ll offer a less lethal suggestion, like initiating Canada goose hunts featuring newly developed long-range Tasers. Not only would that mean less scat, but our local police forces would thereafter flaunt amazing Tasering marksmanship. You’d recognize those cops on duty, when approaching a bad guy all “Let me see your wings, goose!” Bad guy be thinkin’, “Oh, that doesn’t sound good. I give up! … You got the goose.”

GATES GALORE?: I know I’m seemingly soaking this Island nuisance flooding issue for everything it’s worth, but how can I not mention yet another proposed cure for temporary flooding: floodgates? Beach Haven is now looking into them.

I’d be lying if I said I knew about these as a method to relieve nuisance coastal flooding. However, I can deeply relate to them as they apply to cranberry farming and flood control in local lakes. The recent Pohatcong Lake dam improvement in Tuckerton (2011) included a new spillway with a flood gate to control water levels. In the bogs, it’s amazing how complexes of floodgates have been perfected to control water flow across miles of outback.

On LBI, I sorta see where floodgates could be a preferable option to pumping stations. They’d be a less expensive option with far fewer moving parts.

As you know, flood gates are gravity fed, meaning they must be located at topographical low points. Low points can be natural gradients and depressions, or manually created hollows. It then comes down to strategically directing ponding waters toward the low ground, though nature has a way of helping that cause, naturally.

Now for the environmental wrench in the floodgate works. Pity the bay areas adjacent to the gates. Talk about a high-intensity pollution delivery system. Then again, the heavily mucked-upon bay is already under regular runoff fire from the Island’s current outflow sewer pipe scheme. A case might be made that focalizing the outflow, via floodgates, might offer the perfect opportunity to simultaneously grab outgoing bad stuff. Floodgates could then do double duty. How to quickly clean millions of tons of flashflood runoff in quick order might be one for the MIT folks to ponder.

OUT WITH THE OLD: After my recent flooding write-up, I was contacted by a senior dissenter who I believe deserves a listen. She began by reminding me that coping with regular rainstorm flooding – going back over 75 years in her case – has merely been “a way of life on the Island.”

“The water always receded,” she said, followed by a fitting recollection, one that jibed with my past. “When it flooded, we used to just wait it out, playing (board) games; those times were some of my best memories.” She then made her main delivery. “Everybody is so antsy now that they make more of the flooding than they should. It’s an island and it floods … live with it. Buy some games.” Amen … and pass the Monopoly.

I couldn’t help but flash on how back-then flooding events really did mean hunkering down and pulling out board games, jigsaw puzzles and cards. And it wasn’t half bad, even for an ADHD type like me. However, olden flood times simply didn’t translate into millions of lost dollars per flooded-out hour, as it does in modern LBI times. By tallying the implicit cost of rentals, the minute-to-minute value of summer business, the wages being paid to thousands of workers, the fuel expense when being stuck in traffic backups, it’s easy to get a feel for every minute of modern-day LBI life being worth a mint. A flooding-related loss of prime time is insanely costly. That might explain the lack of nostalgic appreciation of flooding in the eyes of modern business owners, tourists and folks frequenting LBI. Sorry, beach badges don’t come with refunds due to foul weather.

jaymann@thesandpaper.net

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