Swimming resumed a day after a shark bit a lifeguard...

Swimming resumed a day after a shark bit a lifeguard on Sunday at Smith Point County Beach in Shirley. Credit: James Carbone

And now, to the pressurized fire hose of catastrophic problems shot into our lives daily, let us add sharks.

They are the perfect addition to our list of woes, because they trip our deepest and most visceral fears without, statistically, posing significant danger at all. On the flip side, many serious problems we face, like baby formula shortages, or inflation, don’t trigger a multi-thousand-year-old evolutionary panic, but do present real concerns. 

What troubles did the sharks join on our watchlist of terror?

The semi-forgotten pandemic lies dormant, waiting for autumn. We’ve got mass shootings like clockwork, and gunfights killing innocent bystanders are also up. More than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses last year for the first time in our nation’s history.

With inflation its highest in decades, prices of everything are skyrocketing, save stocks and bonds. There, portfolio values are plummeting so much that "Can we ever retire?" is the question. Prices were already so high that no one could afford to buy a house; now that problem is compounded by mortgage rates that have doubled in a year. The war in Ukraine threatens the postwar European world order, putting huge pressure on oil and grain supplies worldwide. If you have money for a nice vacation, your bag will get lost, if your flight isn't canceled.

The United States political scene is a disaster, with the Supreme Court handing down decisions seemingly out of step with the majority of voters. Library boards and school boards are battling over how much kids ought to hear about sexuality, gender and our nation’s racial history.

Next to this, the sharks that have been harassing Long Island seem almost chummy … at least from dry land.

When lifeguard Zachari Gallo was attacked by a shark at Smith Point County Park on Sunday, he went from playing the victim in a training drill to being a victim. Gallo punched the shark until it swam away, and he said the incident was terrifying. But he got away with just two stitches in his hand from the first reported shark encounter there since Smith Point County Park opened in 1959. On Thursday, a 37-year-old man was swimming off Jones Beach when he was bitten on his right foot. He was treated at Nassau University Medical Center for a foot injury and released.

There are an average of five shark deaths annually worldwide, and about 236,000 drowning deaths. And the shark-centric resources being thrown at Long Island’s beaches — including drones and patrols — can only serve the big question in the affirmative: Yes, there absolutely are sharks out there.

But in many ways shark attacks are the danger best fixated on, because sharks likely won’t get us.

If only the same could be said for an asset crash, skyrocketing prices, fentanyl, European wars, and disaffected, armed and angry young men.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.