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SHARK.

BY

EVERETT EDE1

The dim outline of the big fish is barely visible as Pepper strains his eyes to be certain of

what he is seeing. The water at 100 feet is dark even at mid-day and the shadowy figures of coral

and other bottom things can make you think that you are being eyed by some big predator even if

you're not. As he moves toward the surface the shadow turns and moves toward him at a casual

pace. Pepper stops to analyze the direction of the shark’s movement and then descends to the

sunken ship where he had been playing earlier.

Moving inside one of the hatch openings he turns down into a once dry passageway that is

now encrusted with barnacles and anemone attached to the various surfaces. Once on the lower

deck he moves out through the now algae and sponge covered hole that had caused the sinking of

the old ship. The ship is now simply fish habitat and a playground for SCUBA divers. It also makes

a good sanctuary for the small fish that are trying to stay out of the food chain.

Outside now he swims easily to the lower side of the derelict and then, stopping, he watches

for the shadow that has been stalking him for the past ten minutes. Several small fish and a lone

crab crawling sideways across the sandy bottom near the bow of the ship are the only movements

that he can detect. With a kick of his fins he moves rapidly toward the forward end of the ship and

then stops once again. There is still no sign of his nemesis.

Swimming around to the side of the ship that is near the shore he tries to use it as a shield to

escape the vigilant predator. Moving around the bow of the ship and toward the bottom to avoid

being detected he skims along the sandy bottom moving a few sea snails, a lone starfish and some

sea pens out of the way with his wake. Reaching the stern he slows a little and looks again for the

shadow. With no sign of the shark in sight he moves toward the surface, and safety.

When he reaches sixty feet the shadow re-appears. The Shark must have been waiting for

him to come out in the open again. As Pepper continues to move toward the surface the shark turns

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Copyright (C) 1990 Everett Ede
and moves toward him. He can feel its intent; even with its mouth closed he can visualize it licking its

chops. Chops are a pretty good description for the Blue shark's mouth full of razor sharp teeth.

Teeth that can rip an appendage right off, teeth that are prepared to rip into Peppers young body.

Pepper knows that a shark is not a vicious fish; its only interest is food. So there is no

malice in it as it slowly stalks Pepper, stalks a meal. Pepper stops in the water and hangs there for a

moment, trying to decide whether to go back to his sanctuary at the bottom, or to make a run for the

surface. Air supply being a factor he chooses the surface.

As the shark gets within sight it veers away slightly perhaps trying to make Pepper think that

it is not really interested in him. But Pepper knows that he is the shark’s only target. Ten yards out

the shark turns back looking out of the side of its hideous non-head toward Pepper, sizing him up for

the kill.

As the shark turns Pepper turns also, but away from the shark, perhaps he can stay far

enough ahead so it will tire of chasing him and give up. He knows that a shark will not persist in the

pursuit of a healthy target for long. Terror enters Peppers mind for the first time as he turns in time to

see the first attack begin. With lightning speed the fish aims for Peppers mid section but as quickly

Pepper gives a kick of his fins and arches his body moving it out of the way. And the rows of

extended teeth miss their mark. With a little time gained due to the shark’s wide turn Pepper moves

toward the surface a little more and prepares to make a rapid ascent in hopes of finding some of his

absent family. The family that he should never have left in the first place, but the young will often opt

for play without thinking of the danger. The shark finishes its turn and propels itself toward the

fleeing Pepper, who is now wishing that he was older and stronger or at least that his father were

here to rescue him. The shark brushes Peppers belly with his dorsal fin as he passes under him and

then makes another turn.

With all of the speed that Pepper can muster he moves toward the surface in an attempt to

escape the same fate that many a tuna fish had experienced by his own jaws. At thirty feet now he

needs a little more speed.

The shark is now very close and Pepper can feel his presence even though he cannot see

him. Just then another shadow appears. It is above him and between him and the surface. Then
another appears to his right. And then another in front and above him. They are moving toward him

at high speed. He is caught between the shadow behind him and the ones moving toward him from

the surface.

There is now no place to hide and no more chance to run. One of the shadows passes him

at high speed to his right, another to his left. Neither is after him, they are heading for the shark.

The first bottle nosed Dolphin hits the shark full force just aft of his gills and the shark is

slowed to a near stand still. The second dolphin hits it on the other side as the big fish tries to turn

out of the way. Pepper turns to watch the battle just as a third and then a fourth dolphin pass him on

their way to join the fray.

Whump. The impact is audible and the shark starts to bleed. He tries to flee but he is no

match for the speed of the fish like mammals.

The first animal is back now plowing into the sharks gills very near the place where he had

hit it before. Then the second hits it again, and then the third.

Each dolphin takes its turn hitting the shark where it is the most vulnerable, in its gills. Over

and over again they hit it until it is helpless and nearly motionless in the water.

The once blue green atmosphere is now starting to turn crimson from the bleeding shark.

The predator has become the victim.

With their job completed they turn and head toward Pepper. He watches intently as they

close the gap between the battle ground and his vantage point. The first dolphin moves up beside

him and then moves off toward the surface. The second follows the same pattern and then the third.

Each appears to check Pepper out before going on. The fourth comes up to him and nuzzles his

side, shaking her head as if scolding him. She then moves off toward the others.

And then, as he should have done in the first place, Pepper follows his mother and the other

members of his pod toward the surface and the continued search for food.

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