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Hennessey: A Shark Novella, Part 1: Mother

Photo of great white shark licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Aug 16 2021

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Original Articles

By Anthony Palumbi and Stephen Palumbi

She idled northward, eating the miles with slow beats of her crescent tail, mouth held open to taste the water, dark nugget eyes unblinking. Broad side fins and the telltale dorsal were three-part stabilizers. Gun metal grey on top, her white underbelly gave her a human name. White Shark.

She had left behind the southern part of her migration path near Florida, swallowing cooler water as she slalomed in and out of the warm Gulf Stream. Up and down the ocean depths, on a roller coaster ride, gliding down like a landing aircraft towards a cool undercurrent, then powering upward to reach the surface light and the green-soup of water washing the coastline.

She followed this path every summer, when the northern waters warmed enough. When the way opened for her to reach the abundant food the cold waters grew. She’d cut this path ever since she’d reached the 10-foot length where she took small harbor seals, then bigger grey seals and even bigger prey to feed her needs.

Now, each changing moon brought her closer to the next chapter in her life, and bigger needs. New life grew within her. Midway through her fourth decade, her first brood of pups. Her first heavy weight of life’s responsibility.

But this year’s waters were even barer than last. Prey of all kinds drifted further north each year, fleeing the super-heated summers of the south.  Day after day her search in those warmer waters was empty. But day by day, her need for food spiked as her pups grew.

So, she swam North, moving past the Carolinas, toward Long Island, while the hot summer bloomed. She sliced through the deep water, a keen edged knife, casual with her inborn strength, but with the utter determination of a new mother.