Friday, September 28, 2007

Man was stalked by great white shark while fighting ocean pollution

A Huntington Beach man is fighting ocean pollution one stroke at a time.

"I thought that if I came out and did something extraordinary that people would look into the issue," said ocean activist Tom Jones.

44-year-old Tom Jones is paddling from Oregon to Mexico on a Polynesian stand up paddle board. The former Marine and champion martial artist wants to bring attention to the problem of plastic debris in the ocean.

Jones made a stop in Morro Bay for a quick rest this afternoon.

During his trip, he says he has been stalked by a great white shark and charged by a killer whale.

Carcass of blue whale attacked by Great White shark

The blue whale found dead last week in the Santa Barbara Channel was probably the third victim of a ship collision in two weeks, scientists said Saturday as they conducted a post-mortem on the 60-ton creature.As surf roiled around the massive carcass on a beach at Point Mugu, biologists cut doorway-size openings in its belly and probed its organs for tissue specimens.

About an hour after they had peeled back 4-inch-thick sheets of snowy blubber, they started removing foot-long bone fragments that had chipped away from the animal's 9-foot ribs. Later, they found other fractured bones, including a smashed cranium."It's definitely a ship strike," said Easter Moorman, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, which was directing the necropsy of the not-quite fully grown male. "The animal died instantly."

Three blue whales -- members of the largest species on Earth -- have been discovered dead off Southern California in the last two weeks, the most recent on Wednesday. Two found in the Santa Barbara Channel were thoroughly examined by scientists, who concluded that they were hit by ships. One found in Long Beach Harbor was towed out to sea, but a biologist who viewed it said it probably had been hauled into port on a ship's bow.

A blue whale washed up in Ensenada, but scientists are divided as to whether it might have been the one originally seen in Long Beach.The questions looming around this puzzling and highly unusual succession of deaths await extensive laboratory testing of the samples extracted Saturday.

The tests, which may take months, could point to an illness or infection that slowed the whales as they swam through the busy shipping lanes off Southern California. Tissues from the other whales were too deteriorated for analysis.Scientists who worked on Saturday's necropsy said that, pending test results, their working theory is that the whale had been poisoned by domoic acid. Produced by certain marine algae, domoic acid is known to have killed sea lions and dolphins in the region.

Still open is the question of whether Navy sonar exercises off San Diego may have played a role. On Aug. 31, a ban on the exercises was at least temporarily lifted by a federal judge, who ruled that environmental objections did not outweigh the nation's security needs. The training resumed off San Clemente Island on Sept. 11.The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups seeking to block the sonar training, has not drawn any conclusions."These deaths are unusual, but it's premature to say what's causing them," said Michael Jasny, an NRDC policy analyst who has been active on the sonar issue.

Michelle Berman, a biologist with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, said sonar was not a likely culprit, contending that there were significant physiological and behavioral differences between blue whales off California and beaked whales in the Bahamas, where sonar has been linked to a mass die-off.The whale at Point Mugu was hauled there by a semi-inflatable towboat from the Santa Barbara Channel, a 22-mile journey that took a little more than 12 hours.

When the whale beached about 6:30 a.m. Saturday, the boat was attacked in the surf by a 15-foot great white shark, according to its owner, Paul Amaral, of Channel Watch Marine."I saw the head of a shark on one side and his tail on the other," Amaral said. "He'd flattened one of my tubes with his teeth before we cut the tow line and I bugged out of there."The whale's innards were buried on the beach. Its carcass was to be towed about five miles out to sea Saturday evening.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Man suspects that he accidentally killed great white shark

A man who was out with his family on his motorboat believes they may have run into and killed a great white shark that washed up in a Humboldt County beach last weekend.

Chris Justice, of Fortuna, believes a thud that shook the boat during the family's Labor Day weekend outing, lifting the outboard motor from the water, may have been the shark.

His wife, Mary Justice, who was closest to the engine, saw a pectoral fin and the shark's mouth, he said. Justice got a glimpse of the shark, estimating it was between 15 and 18 feet.

“When the shark rolled over, you could tell it was pretty big,” he said. He could also tell the shark had suffered much in the run-in with the motor.

“The pieces it had sliced off were the size of steaks,” Justice said.

When he saw pictures of the shark that washed up dead on Centerville Beach, Justice said it appeared to have wounds caused by a boat's propeller, and assumed it could have been the same animal.

“It was a pretty horrifying experience,” Justice said of the encounter.

Sea lion attacked by great white shark is denied help

A California Sea Lion lies on an Oregon beach, badly injured from a shark attack at sea.
The big animal was spotted Saturday night, lying wounded and bleeding heavily. Marine biologists went back to the scene Sunday and, after examining the wound, decided it was probably attacked by a Great White Shark somewhere off the Clatsop County coastline.

The sea lion then dragged itself onto shore, where it remained Sunday, unable to do much more than lie on the beach and try to recover. Keith Chandler of the Oregon Marine Mammal Standing Network says it has a badly gashed and injured flipper. A chunk of that flipper is gone, cut off by the shark's gnashing teeth. And, although the injury is not immediately life-threatening, it could hamper the marine mammal's ability to hunt for food. But that's only if it survives the blood loss and doesn't get a serious infection during its slow recovery on an Oregon beach.

Wildlife officers are asking that anyone who comes across the injured animal - or any other sea lion, healthy or otherwise - to leave it alone.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dead Great White shark and other marine life washed up on shore!

With the recent rise in marine mammal carcasses washing on shore along the Oregon Coast, local state park officials are left figuring out what's causing the sudden increase in deaths.Over recent weeks, a number of marine mammals, including a Great White shark, sea lions and most recently, a Humpback whale, have been washing on shore, most decomposed and already dead.

Calum Stevenson, a Coastal Coordinator for the South Coast from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, says there are a number of factors that could be contributing to this recent phenomenon.

And, he says the young male Humpback whale appears to have been dead for many weeks before washing on shore.At 40 tons, and located in a remote area, the animal is too large to move, and as a result, it will continue to decompose on the beach until it is carried back to sea.Stevenson advises people to stay away from the mammal and let it take its natural course.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Great White shark attacks surfer

Joe Jansen first heard a scream and immediately saw a pod of dolphins swim by and a huge splash. Then he saw the great white shark on top of Todd Endris, pulling him under water at the Marina State Beach in Monterey Bay.

Endris resurfaced seconds later, blood "gushing" from gashes in his back. Jansen then pulled the 24-year-old San Jose native back onto Endris' surf board and towed him toward the shore.
"He must have been in shock because he said he didn't feel any pain," Jansen said. "He was talking to us, answering questions."

Endris' Tuesday dramatic encounter with the shark was only the 10th recorded attack on a human being in Monterey County waters since 1952. Two of those attacks were fatal.

Endris suffered bite wounds to his torso and right thigh and underwent surgery at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. He was in fair condition at the hospital, where his parents held vigil for him that evening.

Since the attack on the Marina surfer, beachgoers on the southern side of Monterey Bay have been warned to stay out of the water and Marina State Beach will remain closed until state park officials and the Department of Fish and Game determine otherwise, said Loren Rex, spokesman for State Parks.

Warnings of the shark attack also have been posted from Monterey State Beach to Moss Landing Harbor.

The attack on Endris - an aquarium designer and a graduate of California State University-Monterey Bay - happened about 10:30 a.m. He was sitting on his board between waves when the 12-foot-long shark emerged from the water and bit him and his surfboard, dragging him beneath the surface.

The shark "was right on top of him and took him under," Jansen said.

Ultimately, Endris managed to ride a wave to land on his own, said Brian Simpson, 37, of Prunedale, who was also in the water at the time of the attack. "You could tell he was injured because the white water behind him was all red," Simpson said.

Jansen, Simpson and Wes Williams, who was also in the water, tended to Endris and talked to him while waiting for medical help. Endris was taken by ambulance to the Marina Municipal Airport, where he was airlifted to the San Jose hospital. The initial 911 call came from the Marina Coast Water District office, which is adjacent to the state beach's parking lot.

"A passerby ran up to the window and motioned to me that something was going on in the water," said Marc Lucca, the water district's general manager. "At first I couldn't understand him because I couldn't hear him through the water. Then he wrote 911 in the window and pointed to the water. Then I realized someone was hurt in the water."

Endris, who lives in Marina, was described as an avid surfer and a regular in the waters off Marina.
"Surfing is his passion," said his father, Michael Endris. "He knows what he's doing. He surfs everyday." His father said his son teaches surfing classes at the university and graduated in May 2006. He is also a graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose.

"We were scared, of course," said his mother, Kathi Endris, on hearing the initial news of the attack from her son's friend .

Endris also worked at Picture Perfect Marine Systems shop in Marina. "He tries to surf every day it is surfable," said Pat Watson, a 58-year-old surfer and lecturer at CSU-Monterey Bay.

Watson surfed Wednesday morning further up the coast, but rushed to Marina beach when word of the shark attack spread through the surf community. "It's very unnerving," he said, his voice cracking.

Watson said a couple of kids reported seeing a shark in the water near the beach last month. "It's not really something you talk about when you're out in the water," Watson said.

Lee Morrow, who works with Endris at the aquarium shop, said he learned about the attack when he was heading to work. He ran out to the beach and took Endris' dog, a boxer-Labrador mix named Cosmo, back to the store with him.

His friends say Endris is a certified diver and has a degree in sports medicine.

Endris' friend, Chris Illig, rushed to the beach from work immediately after hearing about the attack. "It could have been anyone," said Illig. "I've been surfing with him for years. I was surfing last night, this morning, I surfed here the last four, five days straight out here. For it to happen to one of your close buddies . . ."

Marine biologist Robert Lea said it was clear the attack was by a great white shark, but not one of the biggest great whites. They can grow to more than 20 feet long, but this one was probably 12 to 13 feet, Lea said. Lea said posting the beach would be a precautionary move by state park officials.

But as to whether the shark that attacked Endris is still in the area is uncertain. "If you asked five different people, you'd probably get five different answers," he said.

Lea said August and September are the two months with the greatest number of shark attacks. But they are still a very rare occurrence.

Along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, there's an average of 2.5 shark attacks annually, he said. "It's very rare, when you think of all the people in the water, diving, kayaking, surfing," he said. "More people die from bee strings or from being hit by lightning."

Great White shark held captive in pen

One mile off Malibu, there's a great white shark. But there's no need to worry, he's trapped in a four-million gallon ocean pen and may eventually be put on display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
It's an ambitious project. Their goal is to inspire conservation of this incredible and threatened species.

In a giant pen off the coast of Malibu, lurks one of the most mysterious creatures on Earth, a great white shark.

"I think it's that primal fear, it really comes back to that," Dr. Chris Lowe, CSULB Marine Biologist said.

This great white is a baby, less than one year old. Fishing crews off Ventura netted the shark by mistake earlier this month.

"So the shark in the pen is about four feet, ten inches long, we're not positive about the weight but it's probably in the 50 to 60 pound range," Ken Peterson, of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said.
The shark is being monitored closely, to determine if he's a good candidate to be displayed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

"We want to make sure that it's navigating well in the pen so we know that it can swim in a confined area and do well in that space and also want to make sure that it's eating," Peterson said.

If marine biologists decide the shark is a good candidate, then he'll soon follow the route of another young great white, caught off our coast last summer.

The aquarium carefully trucked him up north in a virtual aquarium on wheels. On display for 137 days, he was seen by hundreds of thousands of people before biologists released him back into the wild.

"I think they're great ambassadors for sharks to people," Lowe said.

Lowe is part of the aquarium's rapid response team. When a white shark is caught off our coast, they spring into action.

Sharks that aren't a good candidate for the exhibit are fit with satellite or acoustic tags and released back into the ocean.

"And the goal is to try to get a better picture of where they may go at different times of the year," Lowe said.

And to learn where they feed, and where they breed.

Lowe says you're far more likely to run into a baby white shark off our coast, than its full-grown, more menacing parents. But that's not always true.

"And it happened so fast, yeah it's extremely frightening," Joe Everett, a lifeguard, said.

Everett had his own close encounter with a great white during a paddleboard race off Malibu just a few weeks ago.

"It was ominous and gray and black and something I'd rather not see again," Everett said.

The ten to 12-foot-long shark was tracking another paddleboarder in the race, trying to knock him off his board. After a terrifying struggle, the men managed to scare the great white off, and then finish the race.

"I can assure you that if the shark was hungry or wanted to eat one of us he would have," Everett said.

Still, with an estimated 100 million sharks killed every year just for their fins, experts agree on one thing.

"Sharks definitely have more to fear from humans than we do from them," Lowe said.

If biologists decide the baby white shark in the pen can be safely displayed, he'll be the third white shark to be exhibited at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The previous two were eventually returned to the wild. We'll keep you posted.

Shark season in Cape Town

Great white sharks have been spotted close to the False Bay coastline for the first time since June, and the city has issued an urgent warning to all beach and ocean users of the seasonal increase in great white sharks along Cape Town's inshore areas.Gregg Oelofse of the City of Cape Town's environmental resource management department said two sharks had been spotted since the weekend.

"Although white sharks are present in our waters all year round, we are approaching the time of the year when the possibility of encountering one of these animals is much greater," Oelofse said.In the Cape Peninsula there have been 28 documented shark attacks since 1960.

According to scientific evidence, sharks change their habitats from predominantly using the seal colony in the winter to predominantly using coastal inshore areas during the summer. "Over the past five years, the period of mid-August to the end of September has recorded the highest numbers of interactions between white sharks and recreational users.

"The Shark Working Group would thus urge people using the ocean to be extra vigilant over the next few months when the highest occurrence of inshore white shark activity is expected."Oelofse said the seasonal change was not unique to False Bay. "Similar behaviour is recorded in Gansbaai, Mossel Bay and even in California. In fact, anecdotal evidence from fishermen and military exercises suggest that this trend was documented in False Bay since the early 1900s," said Oelofse.The city council has adopted a five-year funding programme for the shark-spotting programme, which is unique in the world."

(On Monday), shark spotters recorded a shark sighting at Fish Hoek beach just after midday - the first in the area in months. A shark was also seen this past Saturday near Sonwabe beach, halfway between Strandfontein and Muizenberg."People are encouraged to use areas where shark spotters are on duty and to ask them about recent sightings and activity. They should also read the shark-spotting signs and acquaint themselves with the four flag warning system and use of a siren to close off the beach," says Oelofse.

Shark-spotting programmes currently operate seven days a week, from 8am to 6pm, at Muizenberg corner, St James beach, Fish Hoek and Noordhoek (The Hoek). From October the shift will be extended to 7pm.