Clipped From News-Journal

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 - Macho newsperson meets lovable shark Like many...
Macho newsperson meets lovable shark Like many people, I have had a lifelong lifelong yearning to give up my humdrum humdrum daily existence and go to sea and get one or more of my hands bitten off. This is how I found myself recently in a shark-fishing shark-fishing shark-fishing tournament. It was run by a University of Miami marine biologist, Dr. Samuel H. "Sonny" Gruber, who actually LIKES sharks. "I've worked with them so long," he says, "they're almost like family." He's not kidding. In a recent article for Natural History magazine, Gruber described how he and an assistant roped a large pregnant pregnant lady lemon shark to the side of their boat, after which Gruber reached INSIDE THE SHARK'S BIRTH CANAL and pulled out NINE LITTLE BABY SHARKS. I read this article to my 7-year-old 7-year-old 7-year-old 7-year-old 7-year-old son, who listened in trancelike amazement. "Would YOU do that to a shark?" I asked him. "I wouldn't do that to a HUMAN," he said. Exactly. For most of us, our natural reaction reaction to a shark is to want to shoot it with the largest available bazooka. Yet Sonny Gruber cheerfully sticks his hand into a fairly intimate shark location and helps produce produce MORE SHARKS. His feeling is that we human beings need to be more sympathetic toward sharks, because they are an important part of Dave Barry nature's delicate ecological balance, as you know if you saw the fine nature film "Jaws II," where a shark the size of Syracuse, N.Y., eats several teen-agers teen-agers teen-agers and a helicopter. helicopter. Without sharks participating in the Great Food Chain, the world would soon be overrun overrun with helicopters and teen-agers. teen-agers. teen-agers. It already is, in certain shopping malls. So anyway, to do his research, Gruber needs shark specimens, which is why, once a year, he semireluctantly sponsors the shark-fishing shark-fishing shark-fishing tournament. It attracts an extremely masculine group of anglers. You know those testosteronesoaked beer commercials, where the burly Ail-American, Ail-American, Ail-American, hard workin', wage-earnin', wage-earnin', wage-earnin', jeanswearin', cow-liftin' cow-liftin' cow-liftin' men come in from a hard day of ridin' around the prairie cap-turin' cap-turin' cap-turin' escaped heifers one-handed, one-handed, one-handed, and they go into the tavern to drink beer and grin wildly at each other, and they have to sit sideways at the table because their shoulders shoulders are so broad? Well, those men are brie-eatin', brie-eatin', brie-eatin', tutu-wea-rin', tutu-wea-rin', tutu-wea-rin', tutu-wea-rin', tutu-wea-rin', Donahuewatchin' WIMPS compared with the men who angle in a shark-fishing shark-fishing shark-fishing tournament. So naturally I fit right in. I went out with a professional fisherper-son fisherper-son fisherper-son named Mark Quartiano, who is known as Mark the Shark, because that is his specialty. specialty. He has arms the size of municipal water tanks. I became acutely aware of this during the tournament, when I was clinging to a stubby fishing rod, trying desperately to reel in what felt like a 1958 Buick. The largest largest fish I had ever caught before that was called a "crappie," which has about the size and fighting strength of a harmonica. If you pulled too hard on the line, your crappie would come flying out of the water, sail over your head and wind up dangling from the tree behind you, like some kind of Jungle Hanging Fish. But this thing I was hauling up in the shark tournament had PARASITES bigger than a crappie. And although, through years of rigorous daily word-processing, word-processing, word-processing, I have developed forearms the size of pep-peronis, pep-peronis, pep-peronis, I was having trouble turning the crank on the reel. "Can I crank with both hands?" I asked. "NO!" said Mark the Shark. "NO WEENIES!" WEENIES!" And so, spurred by the intense Male Peer Pressure that causes guys to do ludicrous macho Guy Stuff such as dive off bridges and send troops to obscure, humid nations, I managed to haul in this fish. It was a beauty. It was roughly the size of Mario Cuomo. It even LOOKED like Mario Cuomo, especially around the mouth. Mark the Shark told me it was an "amberjack," around 80 pounds. I was very proud. I wanted to get it mounted and hang it in my den, even though this would mean I'd have to build a den. But you know what we ended up doing with this fish, which I risked permanent arm damage for? We used it for BAIT. Yes. We impaled poor old Mario on hooks large enough to suspend a forklift from, and we put him back in the water, and late that night, we hauled in a 10-foot, 10-foot, 10-foot, 315-pound, 315-pound, 315-pound, fairly annoyed shark. Actually, WE did not do this. THEY did this, while I watched from a higher deck (known, in nautical parlance, as the "cowering journalist deck"). Unfortunately, our shark was not large enough to win the tournament, but I'm sure it will help Sonny Gruber increase our knowledge about these noble creatures, which are so misunderstood. Did you know, for example, that shark attacks are actually very rare, and that you're safer swimming among sharks than driving to the beach? Well, it's a true Shark Fact, and I'm sure it will serve as a great comfort to you, next time you find yourself in the ocean. Notice I say "you." Knlght-Rlddtr Knlght-Rlddtr Knlght-Rlddtr Ntwtpprt

Clipped from News-Journal29 May 1988, SunPage 77

News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio)29 May 1988, SunPage 77
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