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Sharks and Coconuts

By , Princeton, NJ
When you think of sharks and coconuts, would you think that coconuts are more life-threatening than sharks? No. Of course not! Because coconuts are only little drupes--a fruit with a hard stony covering with the seed inside (The Library of Congress) and sharks are dangerous animals with rows and rows of sharp teeth right? No. Even though coconuts are “only” drupes, they are 5 pound 3 layered drupes falling from 98 feet above your head. This is equivalent to a 2,000 pound coconut slamming down on your head. (Source: Shark Research Institute) Sharks? Sharks don’t even come CLOSE to being that dangerous! You may be asking, how? Sharks can devour humans in one bite and there is no chance a 5 pound coconut will fall directly onto your head. That is very true. Nothing wrong with that. But what you read here will change everything.
Sharks are animals that can grow up to 46 feet (whale shark). They have rows and rows of teeth, depending on what species they are, and they are considered the best hunter in the entire vast ocean. Yet they are completely harmless to humans. The myth that sharks are extremely dangerous to humans is not true. First of all, sharks evolved millions of years ago BEFORE humans even existed, so we would not be in their diet (Source: NOAA). Second, sharks probably fear us more than we fear them. We hunt them for their meat, internal organs, or skin (Source: NOAA). When sharks attack a human, it is mostly out of curiosity or confusion (Source: NOAA). Another reason sharks may bite humans is because they are used to biting into the fatty flesh of seals or similar animals. Sharks may investigate potential food items by taking a bite, but the bite may end up fatal because of the rows of sharp teeth sharks have (Source: NOAA).
Coconut palm trees can grow up to 98 feet (30 meters) tall. The coconuts growing on it can be up to four pounds (two kg) and a falling coconut as heavy as that can be equivalent to something 2,000 pounds (1 metric ton) slamming down on your head (Source: Shark Research Institute). Have you ever seen a coconut in the supermarket? They look like little brown bowling balls. That is only the inside layer of a coconut, the one with all the liquid inside. In nature, fully grown ripe coconuts look like round pyramids. The outer layer is call the exocarp and is greenish and very hard. The second layer is called the mesocarp and the final layer is the brown bowling ball (Source: The Library of Congress). So if before you were thinking “How can a tiny brown bowling ball weigh four pounds and kill you?” now you know; there are more than one layer on a coconut, and that makes it pretty heavy.
Some of you readers, even though you read and went through everything above, may still not be convinced that sharks are more dangerous than coconuts. Let me try to convince you more. The estimated number of people killed by coconuts worldwide is 150. The estimated number for people getting killed by sharks however, is 62 (Source: NY Times). Why is this? This is because fruits, such as coconuts, are swayed by the wind and can easily fall, a lot of times on people. Sharks only attack out of curiosity or confusion, and humans are not even part of a shark’s diet, as I mentioned before. "The reality is that, on the list of potential dangers encountered in aquatic recreation, sharks are right at the bottom of the list.” Burgess, one of the three scientists participating in a National Sea Grant College Program and NOAA Fisheries, studied sharks and discovered this (Source: Uniscience News).
Many people have this theory in their mind that sharks are so dangerous that if you even look one in the eye, it will attack you. The truth is, it is just the opposite. Some people out at sea like to provoke sharks or other dangerous animals and like to be stupid (Source: Discovery Communications). And then when they get attacked and live to tell the story, they often like to switch around the story to say that the shark suddenly attacked and ripped off a limb or something. That is why everyone thinks that sharks are highly dangerous and should not touch them. Sharks are like any other animal. They will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Coconuts too, are like any other fruit. They just are huge, really heavy, and might kill you when they drop on your head. The thing is, millions of sharks get killed each year due to their dangerous appearances or attacks that may have been unintentional. Or intentional, for that matter, if the victim was provoking the shark. So please, let us not be stupid. Let’s not annoy sharks or sit directly under coconut trees. Being smart just may save your life. Save the sharks and your lives!




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

Nicole9321 said...
today at 9:03 am:
This essay is great !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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lizsarah5240 said...
today at 8:51 am:
Great article, I loved it. I got a totally different view on sharks and coconuts after reading this... Good job. :   )
 
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