Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fishermen caught great white shark in their net

The 265kg, 3m-long, shark was accidently netted by commercial fishermen off the Kumara Patch, near Okato, yesterday morning.

Word quickly spread that the great white had been caught and by mid-afternoon people were waiting for the crew of the Layla to return to Port Taranaki with the shark.

As the crowds gathered to see the shark up close, opinion was unanimous – this was the one.
Like any good fishing yarn the word soon spread and any doubts were quickly quashed. Everyone had a story, or someone else's story, to tell about "that" shark.

Last year there were a number of reported sightings of a huge great white lurking off the Taranaki coast.

In April a group of anglers were terrified by a shark as it lunged and sank its teeth into the side of their small fishing boat.

A Taranaki Daily News photo taken at the time showed the teeth marks on the side of the boat and just how close the fishing trio came to the great white.

Yesterday, commercial fisherman Rob Ansley said the shark became caught in a set-net at a depth of about 35 metres.

Mr Ansley and his crew were fishing for warehou a couple of kilometres offshore at the time.
The fishermen didn't know the shark was caught until they pulled the net up, and by then it was dead.

"I tell you if a fish like this was alive you would have no chance of getting it on board," Mr Ansley "It was a nightmare as it was."

He believed the shark had been hanging around, because some of their gear and fish had been taken a couple of days ago. He also had gear badly damaged in May last year.

"It could be the same one from last year. But you'll never really know. I definitely know the great whites hang around here."

In his 17 years fishing he had caught four great whites in Taranaki waters.
Mr Ansley said if the shark had been alive they would have let it go.

Department of Conservation officer Bryan Williams said the shark was an immature female.
An autopsy showed her stomach was empty, Mr Williams said.

"Great whites turn up along our shores from time-to-time. The last one caught was about six or seven years ago," he said.

He said it was possible it was the same shark that had been seen in the area last year.
"It's a pity. If it had been alive they would have let it go."

It would not have taken the shark long to drown in the net, he said.

Mr Willams said the shark's stomach, liver and other organs would be preserved and given to scientists to examine.

The rest would be destroyed.

It's believed the same shark also attacked a seal in front of a boat load of tourists visiting New Plymouth's Nga Motu Marine Reserve last year.


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