In what can only be likened to the “Balloon Boy” story of shark “news,” a California man has survived, based on his own account, what could only be described as a harrowing encounter with a mako shark. Dale Kobetich told Surfline.com that a mako shark circled him for 20 minutes and charged him at one point. Kobetich even managed to snap several photos of the shark to document his ordeal, including a close-up shot when shark charged him (you can view them at the Surfline.com article by clicking the “next” link at the top of the story).
At first glance, this may seem to be just a run of the mill story about some guy over-exaggerating a harmless encounter with a shark while doing a little underwater photography. However, I can assure that it’s not. You see, what Kobetich does not mention in the original Surfline.com article is that the mako shark featured in his photos is deader than dirt, which can mean only one thing…it’s a ZOMBIE SHARK!!!
Or…it could mean that Kobetich fabricated the whole story after buying the shark from a Newport Beach Pier fisherman for $70 and dragging its carcass out into the water for a photo shoot, as he has since admitted to Surfline.com. Kobetich claims that he did it, so that people could “take it for the art of the photographs” and not for any kind of notoriety or financial gain. Personally, I don’t view photos of dead shark carcass as art, but maybe that’s just me.
While Kobetich’s hoax seems harmless enough on the surface, the reason it rubs me the wrong way is that he played on people’s fears toward sharks, which perpetuates misconceptions that people who are not familiar with sharks may have. Some of the comments accompanying the original Surfline.com article show that at least some of the readers bought into his story hook, line and sinker, as there are people discussing his bravery and courage. Kopetich also suggests in the original article that he was in imminent danger, due to the presence of the mako. This assumption of danger along with the account that the small mako circled him for 20 minutes is a pretty good indication that even an experienced underwater photographer, like Kopetich, can buy into stereotypes about sharks that are largely based on fiction. To me, that’s the most pathetic aspect of this “story.”
Thanks to the Underwater Thrills: Swimming With Sharks blog for pointing out this whopper of a fish story.