Thursday, December 21, 2006

Man punches shark and survives shark attack

Has only a few puncture wounds on his body and a bitten-off surf board to show for his ordeal
Being mauled by a great white shark wasn’t the worst part of Jake Heron’s ordeal. It was the anxious 10-meter (33-foot) swim to what was left of his surfboard while trailing blood from leg and arm injuries. “If I was ever going to get hit again, that’s when it was going to happen,’’ Heron, 40, said yesterday as he recovered in a hospital in the Australian south coast town of Port Lincoln. It was in waters around Port Lincoln that he managed to fight off a four-metre (13-foot) great white shark on Sunday.

Heron told reporters at a bedside news conference that he initially thought he had paddled his board onto a rock when the shark rose from the sea ahead of him, 50 meters (160 feet) from shore. Heron said the shark bit his leg, then took his board with its second bite. “I was just punching and kicking it,’’ Heron said. “Then my board took off. It had my board underwater.’’ Heron said the board popped to the surfaced about 10 meters (30 feet) away. The worst thing was the swim,” he said. Heron, a lobster fisherman, laughed when asked why he had not died from shock. “I don’t know. I don’t think the shock factor kicked in too much,’’ he said.

“I sort of knew what I had to do. I had to get in and my board was there and that was all that was going through my mind at that time,’’ he added. He said he caught a wave and was able reach the beach much faster than if he had had to swim the distance. He described his injuries to his leg and arm as “puncture wounds.” The attack has heightened concerns about the numbers of great whites, a protected shark species blamed for five deaths in South Australia waters since 2000.

Heron called for a controlled cull of the predators around Port Lincoln, a fishing town where underwater scenes of real great whites featured in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 movie ‘Jaws’. “The numbers are just going up,” he said. “It’s time they started controlling the numbers of sharks in Port Lincoln.”

Surfer escapes the jaws of great white shark

The great white shark attack Sunday on a 43-year-old surfer paddling offshore of a Marin County beach was the first to happen in that vicinity in about 10 years, a fire captain said.

Royce Frailey, of Guernville, was surfing with friends before he was attacked around 11:50 a.m. off Dillon Beach in northwest Marin County, according to Marin County fire Capt. Rick Wonneberger.
Before today's incident, Wonneberger said he could recall only one other shark attack in the area, a nonfatal bite occurring about 10 years ago.

Frailey suffered minimal wounds, as the predator apparently sunk only one jaw's worth of teeth into the surfer's surfboard.

The board showed teeth marks from the attack, and Frailey himself was pulled 15 feet under the waves before the shark let go of his thigh and leg, the captain said.

"He is very lucky to be alive," Wonneberger said.

Frailey was paddling facedown when he felt a surge of water and then a bite, the fire captain said.
A friend who was surfing 10 feet away from Frailey said it was a great white shark measuring between 12 and 15 feet.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Surfer faced a great white shark

A 43-year-old surfer survived a great white shark attack today with only minimal wounds after the predator bit through his surfboard and dragged its prey undersea momentarily.

The surfer, a Guerneville resident, was attacked around 11:50 a.m. while surfing with some friends off Dillon Beach in northwest Marin County, according to Marin County fire Capt. Rick Wonneberger.

``He is very lucky to be alive,` Wonneberger said.

The surfer was paddling facedown when he felt a surge of water and then a bite in his right hip and thigh, the fire captain said. The shark dragged him underneath the waves to a depth of 15 feet before releasing him, Wonneberger said.

A friend who was surfing 10 feet away from the victim said it was a great white shark, common to the area, measuring between 12 and 15 feet.

Rescuers treated and released the surfer at the scene because his wounds were superficial, Wonneberger said. Only the surfboard's bottom had bite marks in it. The shark's teeth must have penetrated the surfboard to reach the surfer, the captain said.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

New Zealand will also protect the great white shark

Great white sharks will be fully protected within the 200 nautical miles of water around New Zealand, and from fishing by New Zealand flagged boats further afield, the ministers of conservation and fisheries announced today. Violaters will be hit with a large fine and up to six months in prison.

The species, also known as the white pointer shark, will be protected under the Wildlife Act. Starting next April, it will be illegal to hunt, kill or harm a great white shark within New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone, 200 nautical miles from shore. It will also be illegal in New Zealand to possess or trade in any part of a great white shark.

Great white sharks can grow to be six meters (20 feet) long and weigh as much as 2,260 kilograms (5,000 pounds).
"These majestic animals occur naturally in low numbers and, without protection, could be pushed to the brink of extinction," said Conservation Minister Chris Carter.

"The Wildlife Act provides a strong deterrent against targeting great whites with a NZ$250,000 (US$172,000) fine and up to six months imprisonment as a maximum penalty," Carter said.

New Zealand’s largest national conservation organization welcomed the new protection for these sharks.

“Great white sharks have undeservedly had a bad rap, and are mistakenly believed by many people to pose a serious danger to humans," said Kirstie Knowles of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society. "In fact shark attacks are very rare in New Zealand waters and you are more likely to be killed by being struck by lightning than by a great white shark.”

A great white shark is brought aboard a conseration research vessel.
There have been nine non-fatal shark attacks in New Zealand since 1990 and no fatal attacks since the 1960s.

The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, is the largest species of shark, with adult females, larger than the males, reaching seven meters (22 feet) in length. The heaviest recorded great white weighed in at 2.5 metric tons.

Carter said despite the great white's reputation as an apex predator, it is vulnerable to fishing and becoming rarer throughout the world.

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said the great white sharks are not known to be targeted by commercial fishing but are occasionally taken, unintentionally, as by-catch.

Fishers accidentally catching and killing great whites will not be prosecuted provided they register the death with authorities.

Internationally, great whites are targeted for their teeth, jaws and fins and even small jaws can fetch thousands of dollars, said Knowles. Rising demand for shark skins, fins, meat and other parts used for food, medicine, cosmetics and other industries has led to a worldwide boom in shark fishing.

"No one wants to see an animal hunted to extinction for the sake of a jaw or a few teeth or to be placed under pressure by accidental catch," Anderton said.

"Under these new regulations no fisher will be able to profit from taking a white pointer," he said, "and any fisher inadvertently catching one will have to return it to the sea, intact, and alive, if possible."

Great whites are also killed in anti-shark nets put up to protect swimmers, surfers and divers. Dunedin City Council has put up shark nets every summer off Brighton, St. Clair and St. Kilda beaches since 1969, when there was a series of fatal attacks by great whites around the Otago Peninsula from 1964 to 1969. No great whites have been caught in the nets for the last decade.
The ministers said the new regulations would permit the continued use of shark nets to protect swimmers around beaches in Dunedin.

Great white sharks are sought after for their fins, teeth and jaws.
New Zealand is a signatory to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and has an obligation to prohibit the taking of great white sharks.

Great white sharks are also protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, under Appendix II, which allows trade only with a permit.

Historically, the great white was considered by the scientific community to be the most aggressive and dangerous of all shark species. This assumption was reinforced by Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film “Jaws,” based on Peter Benchley’s best-selling book.

Since then, says the Bronx zoo based Wildlife Conservation Society, which works to conserve the species, field studies show that the great white shark is rarely a man-eater. Most attacks occur when great whites confuse humans with their preferred prey - sea lions, seals and other marine mammals.

Australia, South Africa and California have had full protection of great whites in their coastal waters and exclusive economic zones since the 1990s.

Teenager loses leg in shark attack!

A shark ripped off part of the leg of a 15-year-old tourist on Saturday as he swam at a beach in Australia's remote southwest, officials said.

Zak Golebiowski, from South Australia state, was attacked as he body-surfed with a brother and a friend about 40 meters (yards) offshore at Wharton Beach, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) south of the Western Australia state capital of Perth, said police Constable Katrina Luke.

The youth's right leg was severed above the knee and his left leg badly mauled, but family
members and witnesses on the beach managed to stem the bleeding until an ambulance arrived and took the victim to a nearby hospital, Luke said.

He was later flown to Royal Perth Hospital for further treatment and was in a serious but stable condition, Luke said.

Shark attacks are relatively common in Australian waters, which are home to some of the world's deadliest sea beasts including the Great White Shark. The type of shark involved in Saturday's attack wasn't known.

The beach was closed until further notice.

In January, a scuba diver was mauled by a great white near Perth. Less than a week earlier, a woman was killed in an attack by several sharks off Australia's east coast.

Scientists say there are an average of 15 shark attacks a year in Australian waters — one of the highest rates in the world — and just over 1 per year are fatal.

Friday, December 01, 2006

New Zealand bans killing of great white shark

The great white shark, at risk of being hunted into extinction because its jaws are prized as trophies, will be fully protected by New Zealand from April 2007, the government said Thursday.
New regulations will ban hunting, killing or harming the ocean predator within 350 kilometers (220 miles) of New Zealand, and make it illegal to possess or trade in any part of the shark, Conservation Minister Chris Carter and Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said in a statement.
The shark's jaws have been reported to be worth as much as 18,000 New Zealand dollars (US$12,200; €9,279) and teeth up to NZ$1,700 (US$1,153; €877).

"No one wants to see an animal hunted to extinction for the sake of a jaw or a few teeth, or to be placed under pressure by accidental catch," he said.

Under the new regulations, the maximum penalty for targeting the sharks, also known as white pointers, will be a NZ$250,000 (US$169,500; €129,000) fine and up to six months in prison.
Carter said New Zealand was a signatory to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and has an obligation to protect the animals.

Although they have a reputation as a predator, the species is vulnerable and becoming rarer round the world.

"These majestic animals occur naturally in low numbers and, without protection, could be pushed to the brink of extinction," he said.

Accidentally catching and killing the sharks would not be prosecuted, provided the death was registered with authorities, he added.

Great whites are found across the Pacific Ocean, round North and South America, and round parts of Africa and Europe.

The species will be protected under the nation's Wildlife Act, the ministers said.

It will be protected on the high seas under the Fisheries Act, which applies to New Zealand-flagged boats anywhere in the world.