With the recent barrage of summer shark attacks off the shores of Florida and the Carolinas, coastal city Sheriffs have struggled to keep the beaches safe for swimmers. Though some fearless folk refused to stay out of the water, the slew of attacks seemed to have brought the beach season to a premature end. But disturbingly, the shark problem is not bound by the summer days, nor by water. Harvard officials are having their own problems keeping the campus safe for students this fall.
The predatory danger comes in the form of the Landshark. Similar, but not identical to the popular Saturday Night Live character, the Harvard Landshark dwells in the entryways home to Ultimate Frisbee competitors. Ultimate Frisbee club member Laura E. Dichtel ’03 explains: “Basically a Landshark is what you have when a member of the Frisbee team disrobes completely, usually toward the end of the night after the consumption of a few or several beverages, and dons a Frisbee between their...errr...‘cheeks’.”
The 12-inch Frisbee provides a perfect replica of the dorsal fin common to the Landshark’s oceanic relative. But as Dichtel clarifies, “It is not a Landshark until it gets on the shoulders of two or more people, and hovers over the crowd [at a party].”
Captains of the men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Shankar S. Desai ’02 and Adam J. “Skippy” Ross ’02 shed further light on the mysterious world of Landsharks. To begin with, landsharking only occurs a few times a year. And when a landshark does float onto the scene it goes under the highest of scrutiny. Desai expands, “The shark must be completely bare-ass naked. No socks allowed. The only ornamentation is the disc. The people parading are technically supposed to be naked as well. We take this very seriously. It is a symbol of the dedication we have to our sport”
Ross, visibly moved by Desai’s statements, added earnestly, “If one landshark makes it to the top of the crowd it is not only an inspiration for everyone in attendance, but it sets forth a challenge for another, ‘larger’ shark to make an appearance. Sometimes it turns into a contest of bravado.”
The phenomenon of landsharking is not restricted to the bounds of Harvard University. Both Ultimate experts assured us that it is a global phenomenon that has no age limits. Ross explained that the diehard Ultimate gurus are actually buried as landsharks.
Commenting on the frequency of female Landsharking, Laura Dichtel says, “It’s not that frequent. Probably because it is so uncomfortable. I mean, who wants a Frisbee up their ass?”
Desai and others fear negative Landshark press will result in low attendance rates at Frisbee parties. Breanne Cooley ‘04, an expert on the subject, remarks with insight, “While it is true Landsharks can be dangerous to the student body, they must be respected as any other living creature. Life, even in the form of a Landshark, is a precious thing.”
Cooley has a valid point. And when asked on the response people have toward landsharks, Desai was frank. “Landsharks are simply misunderstood.”