Have I Mentioned My Absurd Fear Of Sharks?

I have an absurd fear of sharks. It’s true. I am afraid they are going to drown me or eat me or force me to stare into their cold, dead eyes while they bite off my limbs. I am certain I was eaten by a shark in a past life. It’s the only explanation I can come up with for my irrational fear of the beast known as shark.


Unfortunately, I was forced to watch the movie JAWS as a child and then shortly after I was forced to take swimming lessons. Yeah, that didn’t go over too well. It was at the Navy base in Groton, Connecticut. That’s where I took my swimming lessons. I was told to get right into the water. It was 8 am and freezing cold, every single day. I remember having to use the men’s bathroom because back then they didn’t even have bathrooms for women on the base. That’s weird to think about now, isn’t it? My dad would go in first to make sure it was empty and stand guard outside the door while I went in. Anyway, I was blowing bubbles next to the submarines and sharks, while standing on the rocky, slimy bottom of the ocean for a week, maybe two. That’s pretty much all we did in swim class. The whole time I kept waiting to be eaten by a shark. Well, at least that’s how I remember it. We even had shark drills. Lifeguards blew whistles and waved wildly into the air driving everyone out of the water. That part might have happened in Norfolk, VA, but to be honest, it was all so long ago that I remember it as being all at the same time. The mind is a terrible place to maintain any sense of accuracy. If I ever write a memoir it will probably be torn apart by the book critics as a farce. I’ll be called a loon. A loon who is afraid of sharks. Actually, that might be an apt description of me these days.


Sharks scare me. Sharks scare me even when they are on TV or at the aquarium. While walking under the Shark tank at Sea World I felt a little woozy. What if the tank broke? Would the sharks eat me? I was pretty sure they would. When my husband talks about going fishing or on a cruise ship vacation my first thought is that the boat will sink, much like the Titanic, and that I will promptly be eaten by a shark. There won’t be any dreamy, slow death on a raft for me. No romantic singing or teenage angst ridden love. I will have my legs chewed off by JAWs Junior. I can see it clearly in my mind’s eye, almost as if it had already happened.

My fear is absurd. It also keeps me from doing things like water skiing, surf boarding, or swimming 20 feet from the shore. Deep Sea diving? No thanks. One time in Florida, we were boating, and an alligator swam by. I don’t really like alligators or crocodiles much either. It’s those cold, dead eyes that creep me out. Snakes. Snakes have those eyes too. If I am ever eaten by an animal I want to be something warm-blooded. I don’t want to be drowning while I am being eaten either. There was a reason pools were invented. For one, you can see the bottom from above. No murky water, no slimy, dead-eyed surprises waiting for you in the mud or the seaweed. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sea. I love the beach. I love salt water. It’s one of my favorite things. It’s just, I think it would be better if it wasn’t inhabited by sharks or anything with cold, dead eyes.


Want to hear about my other irrational fears? Check out: Confession Friday: I’m Afraid of The Kitchen Witch.

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48 thoughts on “Have I Mentioned My Absurd Fear Of Sharks?”

  1. Two things.

    1) For as much as you have an irrational fear of them, I love them. Wanted to be a marine biologist. Wrote my senior thesis on sharks. Totally not kidding. But, show me and eel and I FREAK out. Evil creatures.

    2) Did you take those pictures? They are awesome.

    1. Oh my God. Eels freak me out too. They are too snake like and creepy. I am so glad there are people who want to be marine biologists so I never have to.

      Yes, I took those pictures. Thanks! 🙂

  2. LOL….I think you’ll enjoy this story than…my husband and I went snorkeling on our honeymoon in hawaii. I dreamt it was going to be romantic and blah blah …but not quite. When I first got into the water it was GORGEOUS…yeah I loved it till I ran into this puffer fish that kept following me everywhere…I don’t know why but it did…I’d swim away and next thing you know it was like right there again…and it’d stare me right in the eyes every time…I swam even faster to get away but when I turned around it was still there…

    besides the stupid puffer fish…..i saw beautiful sea turtles that were just chillin’ at the bottom of the ocean….thought it was gorgeous until the current kept pushing me down closer towards the sea turtles and my snorkel was getting filled with water…i freaked out and jumped on top of my husband and almost drowned him too…

    immediately got out of the water and haven’t gone back lol

    the end. lol

    1. I am going to have nightmares about blow fish and snorkel malfunctions. So glad you survived…and your husband too! Ha ha! I am sure he wants to vacation on land now.

      1. MUAHAHAHA yeah……we don’t even go near the ocean…i’m a dork…it’s not like the sea turtle will bite me but he kept getting bigger and bigger the closer I got to it….it was so HUGE lol…

  3. I will write soon about shark medicine and what it means for me 🙂 I love your pictures. Jellyfish are fascinating. Actually I dreamt of a jellyfish last night and its underwater ballet was much like your picture!

  4. This is not an absurd fear. Sharks are scary and would eat you if you gave them a chance. Don’t read Unbroken. (Or do, because it is excellent, but the sharks! Oh. My. Word. I made my husband promise to never pet a shark if he is stranded in a lifeboat.)

  5. I think the scariest thing about sharks is that we know we may not see them coming. Maybe if they had bells around their necks or something we’d feel better about our ability to get away from them. Maybe Marine Biologist Kelly can help us get bells put around the necks of all sharks. BTW: LOVE those pics of jellyfish. I have a few stories about encounters with them!

  6. I also watched Jaws at a very young age and I am also terrified of sharks. The funny thing is that I just watched “The Reef” last night and it totally freaked me out. I would never ever be caught in the middle of the ocean. BECAUSE SHARKS WILL EAT YOU! I appreciate that surfer girl who got attacked by a shark and went on to win championships….I’m not her

      1. Friday the 13th was bad for me, but didn’t instill my long-standing, continuing fear of the ocean. jaws did me in. and that fact, that i too, definitely died drowning or something in a prior life.

  7. I am afraid of jellyfish, because of a bad experience at my grandma’s beach growing up,but your pictures are stunning. My mom was very afraid of sharks. She wouldn’t swim in the pool at grandma’s at night in case they had somehow gotten into the pool I am not kidding. I think the definition of irrational fear is that it is not rational.

    1. Jelly fish can be very painful. I am not a big fan, but I don’t mind them behind glass! I can totally relate to your mom’s thinking. I know that the thoughts I have are ridiculous, but still I have them. I still go on boats and go in the ocean because I refuse to let the sharks win, but it’s in the back of my head the entire time!

  8. I love this. I won’t tell you who my SIL is the daughter of then. We love sharks. I think they are the badassest apex predator around. if they could walk, it would be all over. Don’t read “White Shark” then. That was a ride…

    When I was on my honeymoon on Bermuda, I went snorkeling with Mr. Grass Oil and i’m all lalalalalalaalalaaaa and in the distance: BARACUDA, just like in Finding Nemo. Thankfully some parrot fish distracted him/her or i dunno. I have mad respect for the ocean creatures. Beautiful jellys, they are gorgeous, aren’t they? Ballet dancers of the deep.

  9. I’m with you 100%, which is why I am happy to live near the Great Lakes and not an ocean. I nearly divorced Joe when we waited too long to plan our vacation and he booked as at New Smryna Beach (shark bite capital of the world). I wasn’t going to let the kids in the water until a local man assured us that the only time to be worried is when there are birds gathering overhead, looking for remnants of a kill. Totally put my mind at ease. (;

  10. I grew up in a place far, far away from any sea/ocean so I knew sharks only from books (and also Jaws, and the follow-up parts – there were a few, right?) and when I first saw the big waters I was terrified as well. I agree, its in their eyes – and I don’t understand fish in general. The same with birds, its just so weird…How do they do IT for example? I mean, has anyone ever seen it? They might as well be cloning themselves…:)
    Loved the pics, great job!

    1. Deer can be scary. Don’t think they are cute and cuddly. We saw a deer chase my dog down the road. Even my dog was scared. Don’t mess with nature!

  11. Not absurd at all. That damn movie scarred me for life when my brother let me watch it at the age of 10. It was the underwater looking up at the swimmer shots that did it to me. I shutter just thinking about it.

  12. Your kind of mentality towards sharks is what’s killing them–keeping them endangered on the brink of extinction. Any animal has the potential to kill you. You describe sharks as though they’re the only outlet of endangering your life but yet you put yourself in danger just by getting in your car every morning. Yeesh. What you fail to understand in your stigma and uneducated deliverance is that simply: sharks were there first. Inhabiting the ocean 400 million years before man gives them their right to the ocean, as it is their home, not yours. The human entitlement issue to whatever deemed fit is really disconcerting. They are wonderful, fascinating and many researchers’ life work. You cannot discredit that, but here you are doing so. They teach us so many progressive abilities– survival and adaptation– essentially living dinosaurs that deserve respect and admiration because they’ve reached such an unimaginable feat in nature. They do not ‘eat’ people. They identify. You must keep small objects away from babies because they will put that object in their mouth. Babies use their mouths to identify objects. They have not developed sensory processes necessary to keep themselves from doing this. Sharks are the same in this sense. They use their mouth to identify objects. No, not mistake you for a seal. They are curious to understand and identify what’s around them. They cannot use any other means to do this other than bite. But they do not eat people. Unfortunately the bites, depending on severity, leave fatal wounds, however once they have concluded what you are, swim off. They are uninterested afterwards. Your taste is comparable to a child’s want to eat Brussels sprouts–unenthusiastic. The oxygen in human blood is deterring to the species. They are not “mindless eating machines”. Sharks are able to consume one wholesome meal of, for instance, a cape fur seal and be full for a month and a half. Not eating until after that period of time has passed. Toothed sharks do not eat continuously nor are overly persistent to eat. Not anything like ‘JAWS’ portrayed unrealistically for profit. Profit. Steven Spielberg after his movie was made, has actively supported sharks and their existence and preservation. Shark bite survivors have actively pursued speaking out about the beauty of these creatures. You fear what you don’t understand. Your uncertainty makes you question the value of these animals. And at the expense of what? It’d have to be the sharks. 11,000 sharks are killed per hour. 270,000 are killed per day. 100 million are killed per year. And it’s because of people like you keeping the fear alive. Allowing this to happen. Is all life not sacred? Is all life not important? Whether you believe in a God or not, sharks have every right to life as much as you do. And it is utterly and undeniably wrong of you to continue your prejudice before you even truly understand what these beautiful creatures contribute to life and our world.

    1. I am totally against killing sharks. My fear is completely irrational. That’s why the title is “My Absurd Fear of Sharks” and I am grateful there are people out there who love them so much.

      P.S. I am also afraid of rattle snakes, but we catch and release them here. My fear doesn’t mean I want to murder entire species.

    2. As Lillian stated, this is meant as a self-deprecating article on her fear of sharks. I have known Lillian since Jr High and she has a huge heart and would be very upset if she saw an animal hurt. She loves animals, has several pets, and knows that sharks are a part of nature and that Hollywood combined with some traumatic childhood memories caused her irrational fear.
      Take it for what it is, don’t read into it too much.

    3. Apparently you’ve never had a fear of anything in your life. Mad props to you and your badass ways. I’m sad for you, though, that you take so little joy in humor and, more importantly, that you fail to understand empathy.

  13. No I have an intense fear of needles! But not to the extent I’d write a whole article about it. It’s not that big of a deal. And no arguments in this article have anything to do with empathy. Imean really. Like go ahead and feel sorry for me, you’re cute. @QuirkyChrissy. Doesn’t bother me. I’m passionate about marine animals. Too many individuals go out and kill life because they’re afraid of it and a mindset like that is what continues a cycle. I might have misunderstood the author so I apologize to her. I’m not trying to be cynical but my comment didn’t involve cursing or calling her names, just critism. You can’t expect to put your opinion out there and not expect someone to disagree. Just as there are people who agree with the author, there are people who agree with me. But if it’s an “absurd” fear, meaning it doesn’t make sense, maybe if you learned more about them they wouldn’t be something to be afraid of. I will not be commenting anymore. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Have a great day. (:

    1. It’s an interesting idea that learning more about sharks might reduce my fear, but it really hasn’t. I’ve watched documentaries about sharks, but I still have no interest in swimming with them. This got me thinking about your fear of needles. Do you think learning more about needles (maybe watching how they were made or observing other people getting shots or learning about the training of phlebotomists) would make you more comfortable getting a shot? I think in some ways it could be more traumatizing, unless you went through a desensitization process with a trained professional, you may actually just fear needles even more.

      As far as killing wildlife…that’s a big assumption to make about someone. I mean, when you said you didn’t like needles I didn’t assume you were advocating for the death of all needle manufacturers. I don’t even kill spiders in my house. We catch them and put them outside. We have live traps for the mice that get in our well house and we release them on our property. I am an animal lover. I respect sharks, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend time with them. Just like I am sure you understand the benefits of needles, but if given the option to get vaccinated in a different way you’d probably take it, right?

      This is a blog. I write about personal things like my fears and my experiences. I write about love and heartbreak. I poke fun at myself as much as possible. It might not be something you would write about, but to be fair this isn’t really an “article” it’s more like a diary. I’m not trying to educate people about sharks or promote shark killing. I was just sharing a story about my past that explains something about my personal experience. I am human and I have fears. Some of them are irrational. It’s part of life. A lot of people can relate to that. Fears are frustrating and most of us wish we didn’t have them at all.

      At least now anyone who does read this post will be able to read you comment and learn quite a bit about sharks. That seems fair, right?

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