Saturday, November 24, 2007

Girls circled by Great White sharks

STRANDED on a rusty piece of sunken ship, these two teenage girls were forced to watch helplessly as two sharks circled them for 40 minutes off a NSW beach.

The 14-year-olds thought they were going to be fish food as they waited to be rescued at Byron Bay on Wednesday.

The girls, who regularly swim out to the sunken ship known as The Wreck, were horrified to see a shark, followed shortly after by a much larger predator, when they had clambered on to the structure.

"They were right there, we could see them so clearly and fully thought if we lost our balance we were going to be eaten alive by sharks," a shaken Caitlin Robinson told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.

Caitlin and her friend Jett Coates had swum out to the popular spot which is just 50m off Byron Bay's main beach and were about to jump back into the water when they noticed a shark.
"We go out there all the time to jump off," Caitlin, a Byron Bay High School student, said.

"We've heard there had been some shark sightings but we thought nothing of it seeing as we hadn't seen any.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the first shark."

A nearby surfer heard the girls cry out and attempted to save them but a shark started swimming towards him so he went back to shore to raise the alarm.

As the crying pair sat clinging to each other waiting to be rescued "the worst possible" thoughts entered their minds.

"We were crying and shaking, holding on to to each other so we wouldn't fall off and thinking about the worst possible scenarios," Caitlin said.

"It felt like we were stuck in the middle of nowhere because the tide was starting to rise and it was getting pretty windy. The waves were knocking against the wreck."

She said at one point the smaller shark jumped over part of the wreck, while the larger one - which was "bigger than a Malibu surfboard" - kept swimming beneath them.

"They just kept circling and I was thinking, 'Do sharks jump?'," Caitlin said.

After a gruelling 40 minutes on the wreck, lifeguard boats rescued the girls.

"We won't go back out there in a hurry but we will go back swimming just in shallow water," she said.

North Region Lifeguard Co-ordinator Steven Leahy said the girls had to wait for help because there are no lifeguard patrols until December 10. While volunteer lifesavers man the beach on the weekends, there is no one during the week.

"The alarm was raised by police who then contacted volunteers to come and get boats to save them," he said.

He said there had been 32 shark sightings and one attack in the Byron Bay area in the past six weeks.

Everything from great whites, tiger sharks, makos, bronze whalers and bull sharks had been sighted.

"The water is still warm, there are lot of bait fish close to shore and whales migrating with their calves, which is attracting them," Mr Leahy said.

Byron Bay woman Linda Whitehurst, 52, thought she was going to die when she was forced to fight off a great white shark at Byron Bay on October 15.

Sharks sightings raise concerns in Byron Bay

Lifeguards say they are facing a dilemma about how to deal with a wave of shark sightings in Byron Bay on the New South Wales north coast.

The northern region lifeguard coordinator, Steven Leahy, says he will be meeting officials in Sydney later today to discuss the problem.

He says an incident near Byron Bay's Main Beach yesterday was the eighth reported sighting in the area over the past month.

Mr Leahy says two girls were forced to scramble onto an exposed shipwreck after spotting the shark.

"They were able to climb up on top of 'The Wreck' and scream for help," he said.

"A surfer approached them and he too was approached by the shark. He swam away and notified police and the lifesaving response team.

"The response team attended and were able to pluck the girls from 'The Wreck' and get them back to the beach."

Mr Leahy says at this stage it is impossible to say how many sharks may be involved.

"A number of people have given us similar descriptions. Nevertheless other people have stated that the sharks that they've seen have been great whites and white pointers, we've heard tiger sharks and bronze whalers and bull sharks from other people, but certainly the last couple of descriptions indicate a mako shark," he said.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

!4 year old surfer escapes a Great White shark attack but now without injuries

Experts suspect the attack on a teenage surfer at Strand beach was by a Great White shark.Andrew Smith, 14, was lying on his surfboard "quite far out to sea" when he saw the shark's "massive head" only as it was biting his feet and dragging him off his board.On Thursday, the city's representatives on the White Shark Working Group said initial information on the bite marks on Smith's feet suggested a "small Great White" had bitten the teenager. The information would be sent to the Natal Sharks Board, which would confirm the species.

'The whole thing was as big as my father'Smith, lying in bed at the Vergelegen Medi-Clinic with his feet heavily bandaged, calmly related how he had been lying on his surfboard late on Wednesday when he felt something grab his feet."It was biting my feet and dragging me. I started kicking and managed to get free," he said.

"I paddled a little and someone else helped me. I got on their back and they carried me to shore. "I saw the shark's head. The whole thing was as big as my father (about 1,8 metres tall)." Gavin Venter, a doctor, treated Smith at the scene and took him to hospital.Smith has a number of small lacerations and deep cuts to his feet and two tendons in his left foot have been severed.His wetsuit has holes in it from the shark's teeth and Smith says the fin of his surfboard was bitten off.

In hospital on Thursday he had a surprise visit from Sergio Capri, 50, who was attacked by a Great White shark at Koeel Bay eight years ago and lay in the same hospital bed and ward.Capri showed Smith the scars on his right leg and back where he had been bitten in the severe attack."I suffered serious blood loss. I was hitting the shark while it was hanging onto my side.

"But you'll get back in the water quickly," he told Smith before giving him advice on how to care for his wounds.Smith, who had several surfing magazines on the table beside his bed, said he would go back into the sea when he had recovered."I like surfing in Jeffrey's Bay and Elands Bay best. I will go back in the water again," he said.On Thursday, the White Shark Working Group dispatched a number of shark spotters to Strand beach to tell bathers about the shark attack.The National Sea Rescue Institute appealed to swimmers to exercise extreme caution.

Former Shark Hunter talks about protecting the Great White shark

The Great White shark's been protected in New Zealand waters now for more than a year, and despite critics fears, so far there's been no increase in attacks. But when they do bite it always leads to big headlines and an even bigger bloodlust to track them down and take revenge.

20/20's Pete Cronshaw talks with a former hunter turned protector - a man who was nearly killed by the sharks, but now wants others to see them as the harmless creatures he believes they are. And he catches up with a man who believes he's invented a device that will keep all of us safe at sea.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Surfer saved by dolphins from shark attack by Great White shark

Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark — a monster great white that came out of nowhere — had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone.

That’s when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life.

“Truly a miracle,” Endris told TODAY’s Natalie Morales on Thursday.

The attack occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 28, just before 11 a.m. at Marina State Park off Monterey, Calif., where the 24-year-old owner of Monterey Aquarium Services had gone with friends for a day of the sport they love. Nearly four months later, Endris, who is still undergoing physical therapy to repair muscle damage suffered during the attack, is back in the water and on his board in the same spot where he almost lost his life.

“[It] came out of nowhere. There’s no warning at all.

Maybe I saw him a quarter second before it hit me. But no warning. It was just a giant shark,” Endris said. “It just shows you what a perfect predator they really are.”

The shark, estimated at 12 to 15 feet long, hit him first as Endris was sitting on his surfboard, but couldn’t get its monster jaws around both surfer and surfboard. “The second time, he came down and clamped on my torso — sandwiched my board and my torso in his mouth,” Endris said.

That attack shredded his back, literally peeling the skin back, he said, “like a banana peel.” But because Endris’ stomach was pressed to the surfboard, his intestines and internal organs were protected.

The third time, the shark tried to swallow Endris’ right leg, and he said that was actually a good thing, because the shark’s grip anchored him while he kicked the beast in the head and snout with his left leg until it let go.

The dolphins, which had been cavorting in the surf all along, showed up then. They circled him, keeping the shark at bay, and enabled Endris to get back on his board and catch a wave to the shore.

Our finned friends

No one knows why dolphins protect humans, but stories of the marine mammals rescuing humans go back to ancient Greece, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

A year ago in New Zealand, the group reports, four lifeguards were saved from sharks in the same way Endris was — by dolphins forming a protective ring.

Though horribly wounded, Endris said he didn’t think he was going to die. “Actually, it never crossed my mind,” he told Morales.

It did, though, cross the minds of others on the beach, including some lifeguards who told his friend, Brian Simpson, that Endris wasn’t going to make it.

Simpson is an X-ray technician in a hospital trauma center, and he’d seen badly injured people before. He had seen Endris coming in and knew he was hurt.

“I was expecting him to have leg injuries,” he told Morales. “It was a lot worse than I was expecting.”
Blood was pumping out of the leg, which had been bitten to the bone, and Endris, who lost half his blood, was ashen white. To stop the blood loss, Simpson used his surf leash as a tourniquet, which probably saved his life.

“Thanks to this guy,” Endris said, referring to Simpson, who sat next to him in the TODAY studio, “once I got to the beach, he was calming me down and keeping me from losing more blood by telling me to slow my breathing and really just be calm. They wouldn’t let me look at my wounds at all, which really helped.

A medivac helicopter took him to a hospital, where a surgeon had to first figure out what went where before putting him back together.

“It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” Endris said.

Six weeks later, he was well enough to go surfing again, and the place he went was back to Marina State Park. It wasn’t easy to go back in the water.

“You really have to face your fears,” he told Morales. “I’m a surfer at heart, and that’s not something I can give up real easily. It was hard. But it was something you have to do.”

The shark went on its way, protected inside the waters of the park, which is a marine wildlife refuge. Endris wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I wouldn’t want to go after the shark anyway,” he said. “We’re in his realm, not the other way around.”

14 years old surfer survived Great White shark attack

A 14-year-old boy has been attacked by what is believed to be a Great White shark in the Strand, Cape Town, and is now recovering in hospital.

The National Sea Rescue Institute said today that Andrew Smith — who lives in the area — was surfing around 5.30pm on Wednesday when he felt something pulling him by the legs.

“He recognised it to be a shark estimated to be between 1.5 and 2 metres long,” said the NSRI’s spokesman Craig Lambinon.

Smith managed to free himself and swim to shore where he was treated by a local doctor and taken to hospital.

“He had puncture bite marks to both his feet,” the NSRI said.

Spokesman for the City of Cape Town’s White Shark Working Group (WSWG) Gregg Oelofse extended sympathies to Smith and wished him a speedy recovery.

He said initial investigations of the bite marks indicated that the shark which attacked the teenager was a two-metre long Great White.

All information about the attack would be sent to the Natal Sharks Board to confirm the shark’s type.

“It has been more than a year since the last shark attack in Cape Town’s waters,” said Oelofse, adding that the risk of further shark attacks was low. However, he said the Cape Town public needed to be reminded that White Sharks were present in the sea all year round and more specifically during the summer months. In summer months White Sharks are known to travel nearer the shore area to a far greater extent.

Shark spotters have been dispatched to the area and the WSWG was appealing to surfers and swimmers to exercise caution in the water.

Information and warning signs have also been put up at the beach and would remain in place for the foreseeable future, Oelofse said.

Jaws-like encounter with Great White shark in South Africa

AN EAST London surfer was recovering in hospital yesterday after being attacked by a monster shark – just hours before the movie Jaws was being rebroadcast on TV.

The shark, believed to be a Great White, shattered Lee Mellin’s surf board and left a 38 centimetre wound down his thigh in the attack at Bonza Bay.

“The doctor said I’m the luckiest shark attack victim he has ever seen and I definitely agree,” said Mellin, 37, pointing at his bandaged left thigh yesterday.

Speaking from his St Dominic’s hospital bed, Mellin said it was his “survivor’s instinct” that saved his life.

He remained conscious throughout the attack and yesterday gave a vivid account of his encounter with the Great White – even though it all happened “within a split second”.

Mellin and his friend, Leigh Stolworthy, were riding the waves at about 8.45am on Saturday when they saw this “big fish” close by.

“There was nothing we could do,” he said. “It just popped up between us.”

Although in pain and still counting his “lucky stars”, Mellin managed to joke and laugh about the attack:

“There was this massive white shark bursting out of the water, real Jaws-like …

“It obviously gave one look at Leigh thinking he didn’t have enough meat, so he went at me.
“It was a flippin’ big thing.

“ I was still on my board and it came for me.

“I just felt its jaws sinking in ...

“I think the shark’s teeth got stuck in the surfboard. It then took another bite, but by then I let go of my board.

“It just bit the board again.”

Mellin, son of retired Daily Dispatch photographer Rob Mellin, said he started to panic and remembered screaming and shouting at Stolworthy: “Help me!”

“It all happened in … seconds.

“Afterwards we got onto our boards and paddled back.

“I was worried it would come back and strike again, but Leigh kept assuring me that it was nowhere in sight.”

Mellin, who three years ago returned to East London after spending about six years in London, managed to walk to Stolworthy’s bakkie.

They rushed to the hospital where Mellin was taken into the operating theatre for stitches.

Mellin, who has been surfing most of his life, said it was simply a case of being at the “wrong place at the wrong time”.
Stolworthy said he was also “lucky to be alive”.

“It was really close,” he recalled. “I was looking at it all the time and thinking: This can’t be for real!”
Mellin’s surfboard was bitten in two and teeth marks left on the two parts were evidence of the size of the shark.

The two surfers think the shark was about three metres long, and Mellin reckoned the dorsal fin was about 40 centimetres.

Buffalo City marine services chief Siani Tinley said it was likely the shark was a Great White but tests on the teeth marks on the surfboard and Mellin’s wound would confirm the species.

Tinley added that the clean and cold seawater was conducive to Great White feeding conditions.
Bonza Bay, Nahoon and Gonubie beach were closed with shark warnings on Saturday, but re-opened after 8am yesterday.

Both Mellin and Stolworthy told of seeing sharks before but they had never had a close encounter.
However, they agreed they will soon be back in the water – surfing, of course.

l The Steven Spielberg movie Jaws is about a US resort being forced to close its beaches after a Great White attacks bathers.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A new Great White shark sighting clears Australian beach

A HUGE great white shark has been spotted this afternoon at the northern end of Warnbro Sound.
Swimmers in the area have been ordered out of the water.

The Fisheries Department believes it could be the same 6m shark that has been spotted twice near the southern end of Warnbro Sound in the past week.

Today's sighting was near the Bent St boat ramp on the Safety Bay foreshore, close to the coast.
Fisheries officers have gone to the area to investigate further.

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A Great White shark was sighted close to Australian beach

BEACHGOERS have been urged to take care after a great white shark was spotted close to shore off the West Australian coast twice in recent days.

Department of Fisheries metropolitan regional manager Tony Cappelluti said a commercial fisherman had reported a great white, attracted by schooling pink snapper off Warnbro Sound, in recent days.

"The fisherman says he saw a great white shark that was around five to six metres long and, on both occasions, it was seen at the southern end of Warnbro Sound,'' Mr Cappelluti said.

"No one knows for sure if it is the same shark, but we have two sightings, not far from the water ski take-off area, so we must warn people of the potential of this, or other, sharks being attracted to the area by spawning fish.''

The shark has been seen within 100m of the beach, south of Perth.

The Department of Fisheries recommended that people swim between the flags at patrolled beaches, avoid swimming in the water around dusk and dawn, and avoid areas where there are large schools of fish to avoid shark attacks.