Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – July 28, 2017

A six-foot long sand tiger shark showed up dead in shallow water off 121st Street in Ocean City on Tuesday morning. Ocean City Beach Patrol members pulled the shark to the beach for removal by the Ocean City Public Works Department.

A Facebook post that day with pictures about the situation reached about 800,000 people as of yesterday. Some of the comments left were entertaining, and I thought I would share a few of these. I’m not trying to embarrass anyone so I won’t include their names, but I’m grateful to them for the laughs they provided this week. Social media can be a silly place and the comments left on our page often have me giggling. The following are some of my favorites.

•I bet this shark had information leading to the arrest of Hillary Clinton.

•Michael Phelps did a number on him.

•Bees kill more people than sharks do. They aren’t interested in people.

•This is why I hate the ocean. You can’t control what comes in to the beach.

•Phelps is a sore loser.

•Everyone knows animals never die on their own; only when stupid humans get involved.

•Partied too hard during Shark Week.

•I thought the water was too cold here for them. The pool it is then.

•What restaurant gets the shark? I’m hungry. I wonder if tiger shark meat tastes as good as mako shark.

A number of factors went into the College Beach Weekend event in Ocean City not resulting in major criminal incidents. There were several police reports, including a couple armed robberies and brutal assaults, that got our attention and appeared to be linked to event attendees based on their age and hometowns, but for the most part there was no major high-profile incident like last year when a riot nearly occurred on the Boardwalk.

I think there were three factors that helped make this event a largely forgettable one.

First, there was the high profile police presence. I’ve never seen more police on the Boardwalk than I did last Friday night. Officers from the Ocean City Police Department and a variety of other local and regional police forces were stationed at every block seemingly, and their presence grew exponentially the further south on the boards I went. It was both unsettling and comforting. It seemed like a police state on one hand, but it was settling to know manpower — and lots of it — was available should the need arise. If I wasn’t aware of this event’s history, I would have concluded the massive force on hand was overkill, but recent history confirms it’s best to be prepared.

Secondly, the business community played an active role in helping visiting police officers with meals and accommodations while also working to move along crowds forming in front of their operations. OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro said, “We would not have seen such success this weekend without the help of the business community and property owners. Many were able to address potential issues without police assistance, allowing our officers to concentrate on the Boardwalk and other public spaces in town.”

Finally, there were some well-timed thunderstorms early Saturday evening and into the night that kept potential trouble makers off the Boardwalk and side streets. It’s impossible to measure how much of an impact the wet and dangerous weather had on reducing criminal behavior at the height of the weekend, but it’s clear it was a deterrent.

A few weeks ago, a front page photo depicted a horse on Assateague Island drinking from a water faucet that was turned on by a visitor. In the words of one annoyed reader, “your paper has set Assateague’s education campaign to leave the horses alone back 20 years.”

While I took exception to that remark, I understood the critics of the photo because their reasoning was sound. Some of the criticism may have been a bit too dramatic and explosive for my taste, but I admire the passion behind the concerns expressed. In hindsight, I would have still published the photo on the front page but included an explanation as to why the practice is frowned upon by island officials.

In related news, it looks like human intervention is to blame for seven-year-old mare Chama Wingapo’s death. The dog food, which caused an impaction that led to the rupture of the intestine, was not intentionally given to the horse by a camper but it was not properly safeguarded from the wild animals either. It’s a death that was preventable and understandably hit the heart strings of many. That’s why the reminders issued this week merit repeating.

“Sadly, this incident demonstrates that a fed horse is a dead horse,” said Assateague Island National Seashore Chief of Interpretation and Education Liz Davis. “While the dog food may not have been given directly to the horse, the dog food was not properly stored away from the horses and other wildlife. All food, including your pet’s food, must be properly stored. This tragic incident could have been prevented by simply storing pet food in a vehicle. We are all visitors here at Assateague. Protect the resident wildlife including the wild horses by following a few simple rules during your visit. Take responsibility for every item you bring on the island.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.