Saturday, April 26, 2008

A shark believed to be a great white killed a 66-year-old swimmer with a single, giant bite across both legs Friday as the man trained with a group of triathletes, authorities and witnesses said.
Dave Martin, a retired veterinarian from Solana Beach, was attacked at San Diego County's Tide Beach around 7 a.m., authorities and family friend Rob Hill said.

Martin was taken to a lifeguard station for emergency treatment but was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a statement on the Solana Beach city Web site. His injuries crossed both thighs, San Diego County sheriff's Sgt. Randy Webb said in a news release.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography shark expert Richard Rosenblatt says the shark was probably a great white between 12 and 17 feet long.

"It looks like the shark came up, bit him, and swam away," said Dismas Abelman, the Solana Beach deputy fire chief.

There was a single bite across both of Martin's legs, Abelman said.

The attack took place about 150 yards offshore. Several swimmers wearing wetsuits were in a group when the shark attacked, lifeguard Craig Miller said. Two swimmers were about 20 yards ahead of the man when they heard him scream for help. They turned around and dragged him back to shore.

Swimmers were ordered out of the water for a 17-mile stretch around the attack site and county authorities sent up helicopters to scan the waters for the shark. Eight miles of beach were closed.
"The shark is still in the area. We're sure of that," Mayor Joe Kellejian said.

Hill, a member of the Triathlon Club of San Diego, said he was running on the beach while about nine other members were in the water when the attack took place.

"They saw him come up out of the water, scream 'shark,' flail his arms and go back under," Hill said. "The flesh was just hanging," and Martin may have bled to death before he left the water, Hill said.

A witness, Ira Opper, described the victim as "burly and athletic." He said the man was wearing a black wetsuit that was shredded on both legs.

Club members had been meeting at the beach for at least six years and never had seen a shark, Hill said.

However, Hill said he saw a seal or sea lion on the beach earlier this week. Miller said a seal pup was found on the beach Friday morning before the attack and was taken to a marine animal rescue center.

The shark may have confused the wet-suited swimmers with his prey, Hill said.

Rosenblatt, the shark expert, said white sharks travel through the area, and the way the man was attacked and the "massive" but clean wounds "sounds like what a white shark would do."

White sharks hunt along the bottom, look for seal silhouettes above and then rise to attack, he said.
"A human swimmer is not too unlike a seal," he said.

Shark attacks are extremely rare. There were 71 confirmed unprovoked cases worldwide last year, up from 63 in 2006, according to the University of Florida. Only one 2007 attack, in the South Pacific, was fatal.

The last fatal shark attack in California, according to data from the state Department of Fish and Game, took place in 2004, when a man skin diving for abalone was attacked by a great white shark off the coast of Mendocino County. On Aug. 19, 2003, a great white killed a woman who was swimming at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County on the central California coast.

Solana Beach is 14 miles northwest of San Diego.

Three tourists in Great White sharks' territoty

A British couple have told how a freak wave capsized their holiday sightseeing boat, hurling them into shark-infested waters where three other tourists drowned around them.

The Londoners were off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, on a trip organised by White Shark Projects, which allows tourists to see the deadly creatures close-up in sturdy metal cages under water.

The man, who asked not to be named, said: "I've never seen anything like that wave, it looked like the wave on the video of the 2004 tsunami.

"Nothing would have stood a chance, except maybe an ocean liner. We're lucky to be alive."
His wife was among six other tourists injured and suffered a broken shoulder. Two Americans and a Norwegian drowned.

White Shark Projects owner Charmaine Beukes said she had "never seen anything remotely like this before".

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Great White sharks to be tagged in Australia

SCIENTISTS will soon start tagging great white sharks off the Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast as part of a national research project.

CSIRO senior research scientist Barry Bruce said the idea was to track the behaviour and movement patterns of white pointers.

"We've been investigating white sharks for about 20 years," he said.

"We began our research in Western Australia and then moved to New South Wales and South Australia."

The scientists want to expand their research to Victoria to see whether the sharks behave the same here as in other waters.

Mr Bruce said the CSIRO used several different tagging systems.

"The tags store information on shark movement and behaviour for several months before releasing from the shark, floating to the surface and transmitting their information via satellite," he said.
The satellite-tracking tag transmits a signal every time the shark surfaces, allowing scientists to plot its course.

The CSIRO has begun identifying sites for the project, and, subject to funding, will start tagging sharks later this year.

Mr Bruce said the research already conducted showed just how far great white sharks move.
"We've had white sharks go from South Australia and then show up in Rockhampton," he said.
Mr Bruce said abalone divers and Surf Lifesaving Victoria supported the research.

"With Surf Lifesaving Victoria, it is obviously a public safety issue. If we know where the sharks are most likely to be, we can avoid those areas," he said.

"They are a protected species, and this information helps us to protect them effectively as well as manage our interaction with them."

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Juvenile Great White shark meets sad fate

ONE of the most feared ocean creatures, the great white shark was caught off both Freshwater and Queenscliff beaches yesterday as swimmers enjoyed the last of the warm weather.

The close to 2m long shark was first spotted off Freshwater around lunch time where lifeguards attempted to wrangle the disorientated juvenile.

Lifeguards pulled it right up on to the beach before trying unsuccessfully to walk the shark - which was originally thought to be a mako - out to deeper water.

The Freshwater lifeguards tried twice before using the jet ski to tow the shark out from the beach.
The shark then reappeared around 3.30pm at Queenscliff where it washed up on the rocks. Lifeguards then pulled it up into the rock pools. While he was still alive at the time, the obviously sick fish, an endangered species later died.

The incident occurred only a few days after the whole of Manly beach had to be cleared after a person thought they saw a shark on Sunday.

The sighting was never confirmed but schools of whitebait behaving erratically was also reported on Sunday - a sign of shark feeding activity.

Manly Vale resident Michael McGrath was taking pictures off Freshwater headland yesterday when the shark first swam into Freshwater.

``It didn't look very well. It was really disorientated and it kept washing back in,'' he said.

``The lifeguards I though were very brave. They went right in there to rescue it and one guy got really close.''

Queenscliff lifeguard David Piper said he went looking for the shark after Freshwater radioed it in. Mr Piper said he pulled the shark in to protect swimmers and had notified NSW Department of Fisheries who wanted to use the shark for research. The shark later died at Queenscliff.

Mr Piper told the Daily he has seen sharks close up before but this was definitely the closest.

Senior Aquarist at Manly's Oceanworld Victoria Brims confirmed the shark's identity and said while rare, the Great White is in the northern beaches' waters.

``They are out there. I don't know where the adults are but there are juveniles,'' she said. ``We do get them, especially with changing water temperature and currents, because they follow the food.''
The endangered shark is most well known for attacks on humans.

Ms Brim who estimates the 1.5-2m long shark was only a few years old said a Great White could start to pose a risk when it grows to 3m.

``It is a protected species so it is a shame that no one put it back or called us because it could have had a chance. It is just a waste of that poor shark.''

Great white sharks are the world's largest known predatory fish and can reach lengths of more than 6 m and weighing up to 2,250 kg.

Peter Benchley's widow speaks against shark tournament

Sharks have been good to Wendy Benchley’s family. Now, she was wants organizers of a shark fishing tournament on Martha’s Vineyard to be good to sharks and call it off.

Benchley’s late husband, Peter Benchley, wrote "Jaws." The movie version, filmed on Martha’s Vineyard, terrified swimmers everywhere.

Last week, Benchley spoke out against the "Monster" shark tournament at the selectmen’s meeting in Oak Bluffs, where the annual event will be held in July.

She said stringing up sharks to display is wrong.

Steven James of the Boston Big Game Fishing Club, which sponsors the tournament, tells The Cape Cod Times that Benchley has a lot of audacity to "pretend she is concerned about sharks."
He said her husband’s book portrayed sharks as "senseless killing machines."