Call them great wheat sharks.
You can see their triangular fins peaking above a field of the golden grain on Hwy. 8 between Stratford and Goderich near the hamlet of Dublin.
As anyone who has seen the movie Jaws can tell you, the dorsal fin poking above the wheat, about 30 metres back from the road, is the telltale sign of a relentless predator.
The purpose of these wheat sharks — the creation of retired nurse and landowner Anne Melady, 75 — is to promote mirth. All Melady wants is for those driving by the property to get a laugh amid the pandemic doom and gloom.
“We need some fun,” said Melady, who got the idea from a field she saw last year near Erin sporting similar fins. “It was so fun to see somebody make a wheat field look a little different. It just made me smile,” she said.
Melady sharecrops the land with a local farmer, and once the decision was made to put in wheat, she went to work, building the fins out of plywood before spray-painting them black. A welder friend helped attach brackets to them, and they are fixed to the ground with half-inch electrical piping.
“When the wind blows they do move some,” Melady said, which adds to the illusion. The more realistic, Melady figures, the bigger the laugh.
She’s heard from several people who enjoy the sight gag. One woman told Melady her three-year-old “loves to drive down the highway and look for the sharks.” And her sister-in-law in Manitoba confirmed to Melady that images of the shark-infested field have been shared online at least that far away.
But contrary to what you might think, Melady’s wheat sharks aren’t part of some kind of marketing campaign from the Discovery Channel to promote Shark Week, its annual festival of shark-related programming, which runs until Saturday.
Besides, Melady has never seen a shark in person, although she did once get up close with a pod of orcas. “It’s a whale of a story,” she said.