Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Zealand is also home of the Great White shark

It could still be there.
Conservation Department marine scientist Clinton Duffy says the great white is a regular visitor to the Manukau where it hunts along the edge of the deeper channels, seeking prey such as stingrays, snapper and smaller sharks.

This specimen was caught in the Papakura Channel – close to Auckland International Airport – in about eight metres of water.

A 3.5-metre version was hooked near Wattle Bay last year.

The great white is the species mostly commonly linked to attacks on humans.

But Mr Duffy has only been able to verify one incident on the Manukau and it’s not even clear if a great white was involved since the incident was more than 100 years ago.

The victim, Henry Jacobson, was opposite Shag Point when his boat was swamped by a wave in January 1892.

He clung to an oar and started to swim for shore but was attacked by a shark as he neared Muddy Creek.

It bit his hand and he shoved the oar into its mouth, keeping it at bay for a short time while he got out his knife.

Newspaper reports say Mr Jacobson stabbed the shark when it lunged at him again and then waited, terrified, as it circled.

The shark made a third approach and Mr Jacobson used the knife to slash a gaping wound in its tail.

He watched as it swam away and was picked up by a boat shortly afterwards and landed at Laingholm.

Mr Duffy has also read about two other fatalities, one in the late 1800s and another in 1911.
Both men were reportedly attacked after their boats capsized.

Each lost a leg and died as a result of their injuries.

One of the stories is mentioned in the 1966 David Brambley book, Sea Cockies of the Manukau, the other is anecdotal.

But Mr Duffy has been unable to find any official documentation to back up either account.


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