As disappointed as I am to hear Michael Fumento, the always iconoclastic writer, describe shark attack stories (I’m a sucker for a good shark attack saga) as trivial, I have to admit he’s not all wet:

“[A]s 9/11 fades from memory, shark attack stories are back — with a twist,” writes Fumento. “The media have combined them with another bit of nonsense it consistently promotes with the ominous name of ’The Dead Zone.’ Shark attacks AND a dead zone, oh my! Good thing it’s all a fish story.”

A dead zone is an oxygen-depleted part of the ocean, such as the Gulf of Mexico where the Mississippi River Basin empties into it. The condition is called hypoxia. “Now, since nature herself would never do anything bad — aside from earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanic explosions, and minor stuff like that — we know the Dead Zone MUST be man-made,” writes Fumento. “The most-often fingered culprit is fertilizer run-off from farms that goes into Mississippi basin, creating algae blooms that soak up virtually all the oxygen within the zone.”

Your probably know where this is going. Yep, a Louisiana marine biologist named Nancy Rabalais is using the shark scare to push her agenda. “The higher number of sharks in shallow waters may very likely be due to the low oxygen being close to the shore at the time of the attacks,” she has told reporters. Deadpans Fumento: “So the Dead Zone no longer threatens just mollusks; it now threatens man.”

Even though is has never been established that hypoxia is harmful, Rabelais is calling for farms to reduce their use of fertilizer. The estimated cost of implementing her ideas would be around $4.9 billion.

The only problem is that the sharks aren’t cooperating. Fumento: “’Sharks are not more numerous or more aggressive than usual,’ according to Tom Harvey, spokesman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin. He told a local TV station, ’They are not ‘coming in’ to shore more than usual. We’ve had two attacks within a week or so, and that is unusual, but what we’re seeing is probably more of a media frenzy than a shark feeding frenzy.’”