Thursday, August 09, 2007

Scary encounter with a Great White shark

MILLIONS of Britons heading for the Mediterranean were warned to be on their guard last night after a Great White shark was spotted near the Spanish coast.

The 12ft monster shocked a fisherman off the Costa Blanca – sparking fears that others could be prowling around busy holiday beaches.The fisherman, Luis Sanchez, 46, said it was the first time he had seen a shark in over two decades of fishing off the Costa Blanca in his small boat.He said: “I jumped out of my skin when I first saw the fin about 30 metres away. Not being an expert, you just don’t know what it is or just how much danger you are in.

“You see films about sharks attacking boats, but you just don’t know if it can happen. After the initial shock I went over to that side of the boat to get a better look and it moved around the back of the boat.“I had a pretty good view of its outline because the water was clear. It hovered around for about three minutes before I lost sight of it, but my heart was pounding like never before. I thought staying put was the best idea for a while.”Luis, from Valencia, added: “When I got ashore I described what I’d seen and looked at books and I’m convinced it was a Great White from its size and the cone shape of its snout.

I don’t think I’ll be going to that spot again in a hurry even if the shark has moved on.“Looking back it was an amazing experience, but at the time I was terrified even though I was on a boat.”There have been 60 verified attacks by Great Whites in the Med in recent years and global warming has been blamed for their visits becoming more frequent.Several years ago a Great White female washed up on a beach in Sicily was found to have three corpses inside it.

In another attack, like a scene from the film Jaws, a Great White bit a chunk off a cruiser 12 miles off the Italian coast .A Spanish windsurfer had to have a leg amputated after a shark ripped into him and a Costa Blanca swimmer was injured just 200 yards from the beach.

Scuba diver Luciano Costanzo was mauled to death off the Toscana coast in Italy. But while these terrifying encounters have been rare, the recent blistering Med heatwave and yesterday’s sighting have increased holidaymakers’ fears.So far British waters have remained too cold for the Great White and there have been no confirmed sightings...yet.


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