Thursday, May 31, 2007

A few facts about great white sharks

When a great white shark is born, along with up to a dozen siblings, it immediately swims away from its mother. Baby sharks are on their own right from the start, and their mother may see them only as prey. At birth the baby shark is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long already; as it grows it may reach a length three times that.

The pup (which is what a baby shark is called) will live its life at the top of the ocean’s food chain. As the largest predatory fish in the ocean, great white sharks are the top predators of the sea. But before it grows larger, the pup must avoid predators bigger than it is—including other great white sharks. Many baby sharks do not survive their first year. Young great white sharks eat fish (including other sharks) and rays.

As it grows, the shark’s favorite prey becomes sea mammals, especially sea lions and seals.Sharks count on the element of surprise as they hunt. When they see a seal at the surface of the water, sharks will often position themselves underneath the seal. Then they swim upward at a fast sprint, bursting out of the water in a leap called a breach, and falling back into the water with the seal in their mouths.

Sharks don’t chew their food; they rip off chunks of meat and swallow them whole. After eating a seal or a sea lion the great white shark can last a month or two without another big meal. Female great white sharks usually bear their first young when they are 12 to 14 years old. And if the pups survive their youth, they, too, become predators at the top of the food chain.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cape Town's Festival is based on the Great White Shark!

The Festival of the Great White Shark is a celebration of this change and will create the opportunity for the world to come together, to Gansbaai to the Great White Shark Capital of the World.

The White Shark Festival will be dedicated to educating the public about sharks and the importance of shark conservation, through interactive and hands on programs aimed especially at our youth.

Of all the species on the planet, the Great White shark has undoubtedly achieved a level of evolutionary perfection. it has remained unchanged for 300 million years.

Tagged Great White Shark, shows up in warm waters

A tagged great white shark traveled 2,200 miles at depths of up to 1,000 feet in a three month trip from near the Monterey Bay to the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, according to data released Tuesday from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Stanford University.

The tracking information offers a rare window into where young great white sharks go in Southern California. It paints a picture of the shark's daily life and, in this case, it shows a young shark's clear preference for warm water: The white shark moved steadily from colder Northern California waters to the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez, said John O'Sullivan, the aquarium's curator of field operations and husbandry and the white shark program's manager.

"It shows you the extensive areas that young white sharks utilize for their life," O'Sullivan said.
The data also highlights challenges facing both the United States and Mexico as the two governments work toward conservation, he added. "If they just went to the Guadalupe Islands or the Farallones, management would be easy."

The data was captured in an electronic tag about the size of a microphone that popped free on schedule from the shark about 25 miles from Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula on April 15 and was recovered eight days later in 4-foot seas.

The shark, caught last August off Los Angeles and released at the southern end of Monterey Bay in January, apparently spent days near the surface, with occasional dives to 600 feet and beyond,
according to Kevin Weng, a shark researcher at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station.

Nights were spent oscillating in deeper waters about 250 feet. The deepest dives came at dawn and dusk. Researchers said Tuesday they can only assume the dives were for feeding, while the time at the surface was simply spent in transit to new feeding grounds.

The most tantalizing tidbit, researchers agreed, was where the tag released: At an important seamount at the entrance of the Sea of Cortez, the Cabrillo Seamount, known in Mexico as Bajo Cabrilla.

Seamounts -- underwater mountains that don't break the surface as islands do -- are important habitat and foraging grounds for many open ocean animals.

"The tag popped up at the entrance to the Sea of Cortez, at the southern end of the known range for juvenile white sharks," Salvador Jorgensen, a postdoctoral researcher with the aquarium and the Hopkins Marine Station, said in a statement. "Juvenile and adult white sharks have been captured inside the Sea of Cortez but we don't know whether they are born there or migrate in and out. So it's very interesting to see this juvenile show up right at the entrance."

Contact Douglas Fischer at or (510) 208-6425.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Great White Shark is haunting Champion Bay

The Department of Fisheries is cautioning water users in the Champion Bay area near Geraldton, in Western Australia's mid-west, following a number of shark sightings.

The department says a great white shark has been seen circling a number of boats in Champion Bay over the last few weeks.

The bay is a popular spot for kite surfers, divers, fishermen and swimmers.

Department manager Greg Finlay says people need to use commonsense when in the water.
"We just encourage people to have responsible boating and diving and fishing, and abide by all boating and swimming practices and everyone should be OK," he said.

Mr Finlay says water users need to be aware of the steps they can take to reduce the risk of a shark attack.

"We recommend that people don't swim early in the morning or late in the evening," he said.
"If there's blood or offal in the water, then don't go in the water.

"If there's large schools of fish, they can see, I suppose, things in the water that may attract a shark - they don't go in the water."

Mother and child survive a shark attack!

A woman and her baby survived a shark attack in knee-deep water at a popular Australian holiday beach, authorities said on Thursday.

The 38-year-old was bitten on the lower leg on Wednesday afternoon while strolling with her baby in shallows at Warra Beach, 1,100 kilometres (683 miles) north of Perth, in Western Australia.
"A shark came up behind her and bit her on the calf," a St John Ambulance spokesman told Reuters. "Her husband was with her, but did not identify the shark or its size."

The woman suffered severe injuries to her lower left leg and was taken by air ambulance to Perth, where her condition was stable, the spokesman said.

The beach is famous for its shallow, fringing corals and is popular with tourists visiting the famous Ningaloo reef marine park, which draws humpback whales, dolphins and dugongs.

Australia, where sharks are protected, has had a number of shark attacks in the past year.
In January an abalone diver was partly swallowed head-first by a Great White Shark off the southeastern coast, but managed to fight his way free, suffering a broken nose and bite marks.
In December, a surfer off the southern coast survived an attack with minor injuries, while a 15-year-old boy swimming off a remote southwest beach had his leg bitten.

The U.S. state of Florida annually records by far the most shark attacks.

Between 1990 and 2005 there were 341 shark attacks off Florida, according to the U.S.-based International Shark Attack File,

Over the same period, Australia reported 74 attacks, South Africa 72, Brazil 62 and Hawaii 57.

9 years old boy finds 135 million years old shark tooth

A 9-year-old boy in Wakayama Prefecture has discovered a fossilized lamniformes shark tooth believed to be the oldest ever found in Japan, dating back as far as 135 million years, the Wakayama Prefectural Museum of Natural History said Wednesday.

The discovery was made by Yoshihisa Yamamoto, a fourth-grader at Kaseda Primary School in Katsuragicho. The shark belongs to the lamniformes family, which includes the great white shark.
According to the museum, the fossil is 3 million to 10 million years older than the previous record holder. One scientist said, "The discovery is an important glimpse into the origin and early habitat of the lamniformes."

Yamamoto unearthed the fossil during an excavation event held by the museum along the Hirogawacho coastline on March 4. Yamamoto found the fossil after using a hammer to break up about 50 rocks from the Cretaceous period (143 million B.C. to 65 million B.C.), the age of the dinosaurs.

The museum has since deduced from the shape of the tooth's roots that it was that of a lamniformes.

The fossil will be exhibited at the museum from June 1.

Helicopter pilot saves five surfers from great white shark

Five people had a close encounter with a great white shark while surfing at Robberg beach in Plettenberg Bay on Wednesday, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said. NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said the 3,5m shark was spotted by a local resident, Glen Brown, who had been flying a honeymoon couple and another passenger over the beach in his Robertson 44 helicopter.

When Brown saw the shark moving closer to the five who were surfing about 50m off shore, he flew down his helicopter to try to warn the surfers of the shark's presence, said Lambinon.Upon realising that the shark was less then 5m away from two of the surfers, Brown flew his helicopter in between the shark and the surfers to act as a diversion while hand signalling the surfers to swim to shore.At first the surfers, who were unaware of the danger they were in, thought Brown was just waving to them.

They only realised the danger they were faced with when they saw all passengers in the helicopter waving "like mad"."The shark then began swimming away. Glen [Brown] said he continued to monitor the shark as it moved away until it was out of sight and lost beneath the sea surface," said Lambinon.

The honeymoon couple, Johan and Candice Fouche from Tableview in Cape Town, who also happen to be professional photographers, took pictures of the shark to show the surfers how close the great white had been to them.Lambinon appealed to bathers, surfers, paddlers and boaters to be cautious along the coast of Plettenberg Bay as there has been an increase in shark activity in the area.

Two shark scares not considered alarming considering the facts about sharks

TWO reported shark scares off Warrnambool at the weekend should not cause undue alarm, according to beach users.

A local fisherman, lifesavers and surfers insist that while capable of inflicting severe injuries, sharks should not be feared as man-eaters.

Two encounters with a shark, nearly two metres long, at Logans Beach and The Flume at the weekend forced surfers from the water.

Neville Dance, an amateur shark fisherman for more than 26 years, said any shark the size of the one seen recently could be dangerous. ``I would think that a six-foot shark - it's more likely to take your hand off or take a chunk off...than bite you in half,'' Mr Dance said.

``But the shock of that could kill you.'' Mr Dance said he suspected that the one seen was a sSeven-gill shark which ``will bite you but they're not known as man-eaters.''

In 1961, then Warrnambool surf club president Ron Blackney was swimming only 30 metres from his friend, Ken Smith, and two other men when Mr Smith was set upon by a three-metre shark in front of the surf club.

``The shark grabbed Kenny on the small of his back and took him down,'' Mr Blackney said.
``(Ken) was probably the biggest of the four of us and the jaws went around his waist and across his back but, being the big guy that he was, he forced himself out, then he popped up. The shark came back at him from the front but he fought it off the second time.''

Badly wounded, Mr Smith was rescued and after extensive surgery recovered from his injuries.
In 1964, filmmaker Henry Bource lost his leg to a great white shark while making a documentary off Lady Julia Percy Island.

However, Mr Blackney remains confident the predators pose little risk.

Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club captain Rebel Noter said the shark seen recently was probably just curious.

He said there had been the odd shark sighting near The Flume and Logans Beach.

Douglas McRae, a 19-year-old apprentice electrician who was with Blake French when the shark approached, vowed to return to Logans Beach. ``Once you get a passion for surfing, it just keeps going, no matter what,'' he said.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Author and shark attack survivor drowns!

County officials have identified 53-year-old Kenneth Doudt as the surfer who drowned Saturday across from the Lawai Beach Resort in Koloa.The Koloa resident was an avid surfer who survived a great white shark attack at the age of 26 off the coast of Oregon and lived to write a book about it.

According to Nukumoi Surf Co. manager Miguel Graham, a family friend for more than 20 years, Doudt will be missed.“Kenny was a good guy, a good surfer, a good father and a good friend,” Graham said yesterday.According to Graham, Doudt and a few other guys were surfing at Centers Beach at about 1:45 p.m.

The last he was seen, Doudt had caught a wave, surfed it and paddled back out. Graham said he and others are unsure what happened next.Doudt was found floating face down at about 2:45 p.m., according to a police department press release.By the time three surfers had paddled him to shore, paramedics were already on the scene. Shortly thereafter, around 3 p.m., Doudt was pronounced dead at Wilcox Memorial Hospital.

According to Graham, who was at the scene, Doudt did not appear to have any head trauma and he doesn’t believe the cause of death had to do with the surf.“The waves were small that day,” he said. “He died of something else, we just don’t know yet.”According to county Public Information Officer Mary Daubert, deaths that occur in the water are designated as drownings. More information on the circumstances surrounding the incident was not available by press time.The drowning marks the fifth of the year on Kaua‘i.

A near-drowning late last week at the same beach where Doudt was found was reported by The Garden Island on Saturday. In that incident a female snorkeler was rescued by a nearby swimmer.Graham said Doudt is survived by his three sons, ages 30, 28 and 17. Two of the sons — Justin Doudt and Jeremy “Skiz” Doudt, who Graham described as one of Kaua‘i’s top surfers — live on-island.

Jeremy Doudt did not want to comment yesterday.A memorial service will take place at a later date, and a surfer’s paddle is being planned for sometime this week.Graham said he will remember Doudt for his carefree attitude about life.“He’s going to be missed by a lot of people,” Graham said. “He’s a piece of the puzzle where we hang out and now a big piece of the puzzle will be missing.”

Friday, May 11, 2007

Shark attack victim goes back to shark territory!

HIS head-first escape from the jaws of a 5m great white shark was like winning the lottery 100 times over.

But Eric Nerhus is back abalone diving, convinced lightning will not strike twice.

Ignoring the protests of family and his own fears, the 40-year-old diver returned to the water three weeks ago – though he steers clear of the attack site off Eden, on the Far South Coast.

The laconic father-of-two yesterday told The Daily Telegraph he missed the water too much to stay away.
He insists he does not have a death wish. "To be taken on the bottom, going head first into a great white was a very rare occasion," he said.

"And I've learned a lesson. I won't be diving offshore in dirty water again."

Mr Nerhus was diving off Cape Howe, about 20km south of Eden, with his 15-year-old son, Mark, driving their boat, when he was grabbed head first by the 5m shark on January 23.

He was saved only by his lead-lined safety vest and his instinctive move to gouge its eye, which forced it to release him.

A shark expert who measured his wounds told him he was attacked by a white pointer more than 5m long.

At least 14 of the shark's teeth punctured his vest, leaving bite marks from the right shoulder to below the left armpit requiring 75 stitches.

Since the attack, Mr Nerhus has undergone constant physiotherapy to recover full movement of his badly damaged left shoulder.

He admits his family remain upset with his decision.

"They constantly remind me to get another job on land," he said.

"But diving and fishing are all I've done in my life. There aren't many options here and it's not really the money, I just enjoy it."

He made his first dive on April 7 and has since returned on at least six occasions. Still plagued by nightmares and night sweats, he said he occasionally relives the attack, waking "in that black hole getting crushed like a vice".

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