“Roll on, deep and dark blue ocean, roll. Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain. Man marks the earth with ruin, but his control stops with the shore.” – Lord Byron
The power of the sea has been well documented throughout human history—perhaps beginning with The Great Flood that sent Noah aboard the ark with representatives of every animal species on earth (if you believe this actually happened, of course). For all its beauty and wonder, though, there can be little doubt that our oceans possess another, more formidable quality: danger. The sea can bring life—as it did when humans first crawled out of the primordial slime, which aligns more with my own evolutionist beliefs—but it can also bring death.
Just look at what happened to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines a few weeks ago. The deadliest typhoon in the nation’s history claimed more than 5,600 lives and quickly ranked as the fourth strongest ever in terms of wind speed. And where did it originate, you ask? In the ocean near Micronesia—another example of how destructive the sea can be, especially when high winds “fuel the fire,” so to speak.
My daily scan of the news sites revealed even more examples of the ocean affecting human beings. Here are a few stories that caught my eye and illustrate why we should all respect the seas that surround us.
CRYSTAL BEACH, FLORIDA
Stephen Chadwick and Joseph Citro were heading to meet some friends on Sunday afternoon when their boat suddenly started to take on water. The men immediately capsized the boat in an effort to keep it afloat, but it didn’t work and they were forced to try to swim to shore.
Citro used a backpack as a flotation device, while Chadwick used the only available life vest. Before the men could reach the shore, however, Chadwick lost consciousness. Citro pulled him to the beach and performed CPR until paramedics arrived and rushed them to a local hospital. Unfortunately, Chadwick died from his injuries a short while later. He was 24 years old.
On Saturday, University of Hawaii running back Willis Wilson went with friends to an Oahu beach to enjoy some surf and sand. He and a few others waded out into waist-deep water and were fine until the sea sent a huge wave crashing down on them.
Fortunately, the people with Wilson at the time managed to make it back to shore safely, but there was no sign of the young football player. Authorities launched an air, land and sea search and, sadly, recovered Wilson’s lifeless body several hours later.
As heartbreaking as this tragedy is, it’s even worse when you consider that Wilson recently transferred to the University of Hawaii—where his father played football in the 1980s—and had not yet appeared in a game this season. And now he won’t appear in a game ever again. What a sad turn of events.
The final example of the ocean’s fury occurred on Saturday—apparently a very unlucky day to hit the beach—and involved a 36-year-old Good Samaritan who basically sacrificed his own life to save others.
The tragedy happened near the Cabrillo Beach breakwater—a popular spot for taking pictures and fishing—when a teenager and 49-year-old man were suddenly swept into the ocean. The victim leapt into action and tried to save them, but his efforts were in vain. The older man managed to make it to shore on his own and divers pulled the teen from the water, but there was nothing to be done for the victim. He was pulled from the sea and transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead later. Luckily, the other potential victims were in good health and were released from the hospital the same day.
Yes, the oceans can be beautiful and inspiring, but never forget the enormous dangers they can bring. And always show the proper respect to the sea or who knows? You could be next!
Posted on December 2, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged commentary, current-events, death, Hawaii, Lord Byron, news, Oahu, perspectives, Philippines, seas and oceans, tragedy, typhoon, weather, Willis Wilson. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.