Swimming side by side with sharks

The first time I saw one of these in Australia, I found it very strange. People swim in the ocean, yet separated by a wall of concrete or at least a net. Children are covered head to toe in nylon suits, and most adults don’t even go into the water. What’s going on here?

One sunny day, I asked the lifeguard why nobody was at the beach. “We have seen a couple of crocs here last night. It’s hatching season,” he said. Yeah, that pretty much satisfied me as a good enough reason. The following week nobody was at the beach because “there were too many poisonous jelly fish”. A week later, “shark sightings.” Clearly, with all their picturesque beaches, Australia is not a country for your typical beach lover.

Needless to say, I grew to appreciate their “pools inside the ocean.” No chlorine, and a safe distance from the crocs, jellyfish and sharks. The New York Times travel section has a piece about them today.