If a great white shark ever suddenly talked, I'd like to think she would tell us all to stop making jokes about needing a bigger boat.
"It was funny that one time," I picture the shark saying, the words coming out wet and toothy, like a kid with braces saying "sassafras." "Now it's just kind of (fin shrug)."
Should this ever happen, I'd take the opportunity to tell the shark how often I've dreamt of her, circling around me, occasionally bumping into me, appearing out of nowhere and from the dark. I wouldn't be afraid to tell her this either. She needs to know how she comes off to others.
I'd have questions, too. Do you enjoy the company of anyone in the ocean? Anyone at all? Maybe there's a clownfish who made you laugh once?
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I'd also like to think we could use the shark's new communication skills to our advantage -- to negotiate with her. Ask her to stay clear of beaches that have people in the water. See if she could give us any loose teeth she might have so we can make a necklace or some other keepsake. Maybe she would even let me touch the point of her snout, something that is on my actual bucket list, along with "sniff a tiger's head."
What would animals say if they could speak our language? It's a really fun thing to consider.
It's something that an unidentified reporter who lives on the East Coast (reveal yourself, you genius!) gets to do many times a day on Twitter with @MaryLeeShark, an account written entirely in the "voice" of Mary Lee, a great white shark that is a frequent visitor to our waters in Beaufort County.
Just check how many times she's been in Port Royal Sound. It's enough to make you hold onto your paddleboard for dear life while still in the store.
The shark was tagged in 2012 off the coast of Cape Cod by OCEARCH, a global nonprofit that is primarily focused on learning more about sharks and educating others about them. Mary Lee, who was pinging off the coast of Ocean City, Md., on Monday, has been making news lately because of her Twitter status. When the news broke this weekend that she was the latest "Twitter star," she had 44,000 followers. That number has since jumped to nearly 60,000 -- people who think it's Just Too Cool to be able to converse with a great white shark.
They tell her they can't wait to see her this weekend. They tell her she's the best and that she should come to Colorado ... if she could. They compare follower numbers. They invite her for a swim.
Calm down, everyone. Just calm down. This is, after all, a great white we're talking about.
It's easy to forget this, though. Twitter lends itself to anthropomorphization. It's one big digital puppet show that occasionally borders on the creepy, like when I discovered a number of dog accounts that followed other dog accounts. I say "creepy" not because the stuff I read actually was creepy, but because I couldn't help but wonder if there is a hidden community of people out there who have online dog personalities and spend their days conversing with other people who have online dog personalities.
Like actual people-dog friendships forming. But as dogs. With voices.
Mary Lee's following, while increasing exponentially, is not quite "Twitter star" status if we're looking at the greats. Such as @Sockington, a gray and white cat with 1.34 million followers. A cat who describes itself as "I am Jason Scott's Cat." No hobbies listed. Just that. Jason Scott's cat. From Waltham, Mass. Among Sockington's latest tweets: "RAISE THE ROOF GESTURE DIFFICULT FOR CAT you will have to settle for on the back with paws in the air like I just don't care SPOILER I don't."
There's also Bronx Zoo's Cobra (@BronxZoosCobra, 168,000 followers), which escaped from the zoo in 2011. Its bio? "I'm an Egyptian cobra back from being out on the town. ... I'm at the Bronx Zoo. For now." When Slate tweeted about loose zebras running around the streets of Belgium, @BronxZoosCobra responded: "Calling them "loose" zebras is a little judgmental. Maybe they're just dating around."
Who knew a cobra could be so funny?
Still not interested in meeting him.
Then there's burgeoning star @Spokesbird -- 11,000 followers -- "I'm a cheeky, rare kakapo parrot. I got famous doing crazy things on TV. I now use my celebrity for good, as New Zealand's official Spokesbird for Conservation."
One thing is for sure, this spokesbird manages to be just as annoying on Twitter as I'm sure it is in real life, starting most tweets with "Skraaarrk!"
Mary Lee deserves a large and loyal following because, well, she is awesome -- and because it keeps us nice and aware of when she's in town.
I've been following Mary Lee and her pal Katharine, another great white known for swimming off our coast, for quite some time. They have some super funny tweets.
Such as this one from Mary Lee:
"I just wanted take a minute to thank all my new followers. I passed the 50,000 mark tonight. We ARE going to need a bigger @twitter -;()"
Oh. I guess sharks don't have a problem with that joke.