Great white sharks (carcharodon carcharias if you’re a mad shark scientist) are a fearsome creature. They have very big teeth, swim damned fast, live in many oceans around the world, and are responsible for the largest number of fatal attacks on people. Our snakes, spiders and wombats can’t compete with them for knocking off humans.
In Australia, this summer saw a flurry of great whites lurking around New South Wales and South Australian beaches. Unprovoked attacks caused death, mayhem and serious injury, and closed beaches during the best time of the year for swimming. This is a very grim state of affairs when the sun is shining and the glittering water is calling.
If there’s one creature that terrifies most Australians, it’s the great white shark. Any hint of one and we won’t get in the water. Not a chance.
Personally I’m more concerned about saltwater crocodiles in far north Queensland. The water can get murky on the beach and you imagine one of these scaly toothed critters creeping out of the nearby river and lurking in the shallows, waiting for the moment when you swim right into its jaws. In reality, the likelihood of this is incredibly low. On average, only one person a year gets themselves terminated by a croc. You’re more likely to be eaten by a shark but only just – only 135 known shark fatalities in Australia in the last 100 years. That’s not so bad.
Although I haven’t personally encountered a great white shark while swimming in Australian waters, I’ve watched enough TV programs showing attacks on divers in cages and the news always avidly shows surfers being bitten during competitions. That’s close enough thanks.
About the painting
Found a photo of a great white shark in a Jetstar magazine when flying to Cairns from Melbourne. On another page was an advertisement showing a photo of a woman floating through the ocean.
I sketched the shark for a spot of practise. Then in a micro-second of inspiration, I sketched the woman underneath, adding a snorkel, swimsuit and fins. And that was that, end of practise. Until I went looking for creatures to paint for my Sketchbook project journal. The shark’s teeth jumped out at me.
The final painting is essentially a simple copy of the original sketch with just a few tweaks – mostly the addition of fear in our shark’s eyes, and a high heel shoe with which to attack the shark. Not that I advocate bashing sharks with high heels (or spear guns either for that matter). Much better to get out of the water when you see that fin come splicing through the water.