Sharks, Narcos and Ghosts: The Red Triangle

Posted by blogger in LA Ghosts
Sharks, Narcos and Ghosts: The Red Triangle - Photo

Sharks, narcos, slave traders, Malibu, bikini-clad hotties, suntanned Keanu Reeves lookalikes, and GHOSTS… when I pitched this article to my editor, he had a heart attack. The man envisioning a jackpots’ worth of views. And, really, I can’t blame him. This one has it all. A perfect storm of circumstances. The inbreed offspring of an untamed night of passion between the History Channels’ sketchiest fact-based show, and Nat Geos’ marine-based fanfare. The Red Triangle is what you get when you throw Shark Week, Clive Barker, Pablo Escobar, and Steven’ Spielberg’ Amistad into a cocktail bullet and then have a James Bond enthusiast tell the celestial bartender:

“Shaken, not stirred.” 

Oh, you’re going to have fun reading this one… I double-dog dare you not to.

What is The Red Triangle

map of Geological Survey, 1972, limited update 1990. "Red Triangle" shark region
Source: Wikicommons. USGS AND user:FluffbrainCalifornia (Northern) map. Original scale 1:2,500,000 U.S. Geological Survey, 1972, limited update 1990. “Red Triangle” shark region denoted by file uploader.

The Red Triangle is the nom de guerre of a wiggy triangle-shaped pattern that can be drawn onto the cartography maps and nautical charts around Northern California. Why a triangle? Why not? Tradition, superstition, plain copyright infringement… sailors love their triangles. Bermuda. Devil. Red. 

This particular geometric shape ensnares a huge region off the coast, from Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco, out slightly beyond the Farallon Islands, and down to the Big Sur region, south of Monterey. 

The zone is a smorgasbord for sharks, particularly great white sharks. It has it all. A captive marine mammal population consisting of tasty morsels of hammerhead delicacy like elephant seals, sea otters, sea lions, whales, harbor seals, and Bob Marley loving take-out that answers every third question with a “dude?”

That’s right, the colorful vermillion adjective to that portmanteau of Red Triangle is because the waters are quite often stained with large deluding patches of blood. More than 35% of all great white shark attacks in the US happen within the Red Triangle. Worldwide? Eleven percent. One out of every Great White snack-a-ton takes place in that small stretch of land. Fly a drone over those enchanting waters and the feed looks like a child’s description of a Jaws inspired nightmare. The area is full of dark fast-moving shadows.

What’s even more hair raising is the fact that the area is a favorite spot for surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, swimming, and diving. And the punchline, to that rather peculiar natural pun? Sharks detest human flesh! They abhor the taste of long pig. Too much fiber. Too much coconut extracts and oils. Too much outer plastic or cotton wrapping. It’s not their thing. So, since they generally depend on other senses besides their eyesight- which is really dodgy- these apex predators, when confused, fall back on what scientists like to call: “the taste test.” They swim up to something that might be a meal and take a bite. If they like it, they chow down. If they don’t, they leave… a half-eaten hamburger left bleeding in the surf screaming for their missing leg.

And those, only 5-15% are actually fatal, that sink down to Davy Jones’ locker as any good surfer returns to the spot when the waves are “just right.” Patrick Sweazy in Point Break by way of Ghost. But we will get to that in a moment. First, let’s talk Narcos.

Why is the Triangle so red?

We’ve already covered the fact that the place is basically a Las Vegas buffet for the toothy prehistoric malcontents. That fact alone is enough to chum the waters, but it still doesn’t explain why over the years the attacks have increased. With the passage of time attacks in the area have skyrocketed, and that’s were human interaction or more to the point meddling comes in.

To understand why, we first have to take a detour and fly off to the Atlantic coast. A series of studies aimed at understanding the migration patterns and movements of sharks in that eastern pool came up with a shocking conclusion. Marine biologists noticed that most sharks were somewhat locked into a set pattern, a branching vector of various interconnecting lines; from the northwest of Africa a tree trunk that would spiral out to the coast of Brazil, dozens of Caribbean Islands, Louisiana, and Georgia. There were few underwater streams in that area, so what was compelling the sharks’ formation? Passed down genetic data dumps. Years of evolutionary tampering by humans had altered their seafaring routes. How did we tame, in a way, predators that lived and thrived in the time of the dinosaurs? By making them complacent and constantly feeding them. Those vectors traced the Atlantic Slave Trading routes. When slaves died or misbehaved, they were tossed overboard. When a ship came upon a snafu – like a lack of winds – it could dump a portion of its “cargo” to save the rest and then seek compensation from insurance companies; the legendary “general averages clause.” For hundreds of years, slave ships would feed the sharks, and the sharks in turn would follow the ships back and forth; from coast to coast. Time flew by and the population exploded and their tracking habits adapted to their new eating practices.

painting of The HMS Blakeys Joke. A Slave Ship.
Source: Wikicommons. The HMS Blakeys Joke. A Slave Ship.

That same paradigm is partly to blame for the upsurge of shark attacks on the west coast. A spike that comes out of Sea Of Cortez and the Mexican coast all the way north past San Francisco. Currents in the water picking up the discarded mess of a fierce underworld battle being waged by the Cartels.

Troublesome canards that might land them in hot water? All those inconvenient truths, the sort that puts them over a barrel into Chapo Guzman like stink with the Federales? Yup, into California/Mexicos’ anonymous recycling plant… the deep blue sea. When Narcos off the coast of Mexico, in parts where the local constabulary is as guilty and corrupt as most banana republic communist regimes, Narcos – also known as Netflix’s big-ticket item – like to feed the wildlife. 

And the Pacific sharks, just like their Atlantic siblings, love a free meal.

The Surfer Ghosts

Great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico, August 2006. Shot with Nikon D70s in Ikelite housing, in natural light. Animal estimated at 11-12 feet (3.3 to 3.6 m) in length, age unknown
Source: Wikicommons. Great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico, August 2006. Shot with Nikon D70s in Ikelite housing, in natural light. Animal estimated at 11-12 feet (3.3 to 3.6 m) in length, age unknown.

Meanwhile, due to the bodies in the stream and the all-night dining experience offered to them, the sharks in the area are in a frenzy. They smell the blood and see red. This in turn has created dozens of fatal victims… snacks that didn’t survive the “taste test” performed by jaws that can snap canoes and surfboards in half.

Over the years there have been countless stories concerning individuals witnessing old friends and surfer buddies – victims of shark attacks – once more taking up the waves and going Cowabunga. Tales abound on phantoms and specters, shadowy figures, hangin’ loose right on the horizon as the sun dips into twilight.

Most stay put, minding their own business, but a few take an active role in the mortal plane. They warn other surfers and thrill-seekers that a great white is in the area; harbingers that if headed prevent doom. Others even help their fleshy compatriots in times of distress, assisting them if they encounter one of these undersea leviathans. 

For more macabre tales check out our blog.