Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jaws based shark hunter dies at 82 years old

The legendary shark fisherman who is said to have been the inspiration behind the character Captain Quint in ‘Jaws,’ has died. Frank Mundus died Wednesday at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu after suffering his second heart attack in four days. He was 82.

Mundus had a history of heart problems. He had his first heart attack in 1998 and later underwent quadruple bypass surgery.

He was known as ‘Monster Man’ because he caught large sharks, including a 4,500 pound Great White shark, in his famed boat, the Cricket II. “I had a lot of close calls. Probably too many close calls,” he once said.

Mundus began hunting sharks in 1951and began promoting shark conservation in the 1960s. He retired in 1991.

He is survived by his wife Jeanette Mundus, 46.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Luring Great White sharks with...sausages?

WHY is it whenever someone catches a shark there's always a variety of car parts - from old tyres to numberplates - inside?

I can't imagine a great white lining up at an RTA cafeteria asking for a meal of personalised plates. Yet it's a phenomenon that's intrigued me since I saw that scene from the movie Jaws.

I figured a mix of me wrapped in sausages sitting in a Mini Moke would offer even the most fussy great white a good feed - crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.

And although, as I was lowered into the Great Southern Ocean I was suddenly struck with the realisation this was probably the most stupid thing I'd ever done, it's one of those car stories that we needed to explore. Welcome to Top Gear Australia. If you're not familiar with the BBC motoring series Top Gear then you've probably been living west of Gulargambone in a plywood caravan. Top Gear UK has clocked more than half a billion viewers worldwide.

And now, for the first time, there is an overseas franchise, Top Gear Australia, which starts screening on SBS later this month.

Together with former Sydney boy, racing driver and BBC motorsport commentator Charlie Cox and driver trainer Steve Pizzati, I'm lucky enough to be one of Top Gear Australia's hosts - a dream from which I'm terrified I'll wake up. The three of us and a sizeable camera crew have spent the past few months driving an incredible array of cars in some of Australia's most far-flung locations.
From Kununurra in the Kimberley to the west coast of Tasmania, Charlie, Steve and I have had enormous fun finding out what various cars will - and won't - do.

Driving cars is only part of what is Top Gear. The program has been described as a show about "the failings of men". That's why women enjoy it. It confirms their suspicions blokes behave like dills when left alone.

Making an Australian version of one of the world's most successful television programs has required careful thought. But there are a few things rusted-on fans of Top Gear might like to know. They can sleep at night because Top Gear Australia is not replacing the UK version.

We'll be attempting some hare-brained challenges that you just can't do in the UK or in Europe - I should know because I spent a day sitting underwater in a Mini Moke wearing bandoliers of sausages.

Young Great White shark from Monterey Bay Aquarium has been released into the wilderness

A young great white shark that was exhibited at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for 11 days was released into the wild this afternoon, aquarium officials announced.

The shark was brought to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Aug. 27 and because she ate only once while living in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit, the animal care staff decided she should be returned to the ocean, according to aquarium officials.

"These decisions are always governed by our concern for the health and well-being of these animals under our care," Jon Hoech, director of husbandry for the aquarium, said in a statement.
"On Saturday, it became clear it was time to release her," Hoech said.

When the shark was collected from the Santa Monica Bay on Aug. 16 by an aquarium team, she was 4.5 feet long and weighed 55.5 pounds.

She was released at about 1:30 p.m. today into offshore waters in the Santa Barbara Channel.
Monterey Bay Aquarium has housed three other great white sharks, each for a period of four to six months before they were returned to the ocean.

Each shark, including the one released today, was tagged with a tracking device that documents the sharks' movements in the wild, according to aquarium officials.

The tag records information on where the sharks travel, the depths the sharks dive to and the water temperatures the sharks favor for the first 148 days upon their release.

(© 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. In the interest of timeliness, this story is fed directly from the Associated Press newswire and may contain occasional typographical errors. )

Tagging Great White sharks

Record year for white shark tagging

Another tagged New Zealand great white shark has migrated to the Great Barrier Reef off Australia – 1 of nine sharks to be satellite tagged this year.

The 3.5 metre shark, nicknamed ‘Thomas,’ was tagged with a popup archival satellite tag. The tag records information on light levels (from which approximate daily latitude and longitude can be estimated) as well as water depth and temperature so that the shark’s movements can be tracked.
After a predetermined time (six months for this shark) the tag pops off the shark, floats to the surface and transmits the data to a satellite that emails the information back.

‘Thomas’ was tagged by Department of Conservation (DOC) scientist, Clinton Duffy, off Ruapuke Island in Foveaux Strait, in February. The satellite tag popped up at Swain Reefs, off Rockhampton, late in August.

"This is only 100 kilometres from where another tag popped up last year from a shark tagged at Stewart Island after having travelled over 3000 kilometres," says Mr Duffy.

The shark tagging project, which began in 2005, is an international collaborative programme being run by the National Institute for Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), DOC, and Dr Ramon Bonfil from Shark Tracker/NABU (Germany).

NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Malcolm Francis says this has been a bumper year for white shark tagging.

“Until this year we’ve only been able to tag six white sharks in three seasons of field work. This year has greatly added to our tally with three more being tagged at Stewart Island and six more at Chatham Islands. Two tags have failed but we still have six more tagged sharks in the water which are due to report back between October and January, offering us an amazing insight into the secret lives of these apex predators.”

Once all the data has been transmitted from the latest shark, the project team will be able to determine the route the shark took, how deep it dived, and the water temperatures it experienced.
“Previous tagged white sharks have dived as deep as 1000 metres and encountered temperatures ranging from 3 degrees in deep water to 24 degrees in shallow tropical waters. This huge range in temperature is very unusual among fishes,” Dr Francis says.

Other tags have popped up in New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and half-way to Tonga.

“Previously we thought great whites were cold water, coastal sharks but we now know that many make trans-oceanic migrations to tropical waters. The reason for their winter tropical holiday is still unknown but we think they may be searching for newborn humpback whale calves, because all tags have surfaced in or near known humpback calving sites.”

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Missing swimmer may have encountered a Great White shark

A Great White shark was spotted today about an eighth-of-a mile from where Big Island firefighters found tattered board shots belonging to a missing 27-year-old swimmer.

The white shorts appeared to have teeth marks in them, said Battalion Chief Darren Rosario.
"The shorts were torn with strong evidence that a shark had hit it," Rosario said. "They had teeth patterns like a shark bite."

But it remains a mystery whether the bites were related to the swimmer's disappearance, Rosario said.

"Nobody will ever know that," said Chadwick Chun Fat, a Big Island fire rescue specialist who saw the great white shark from a helicopter and later dived into the ocean and found parts of the tattered shorts and pieces of underwear belonging to the missing swimmer.

The shark was spotted today swimming parallel to McKenzie State Park where the swimmer was swept away from the steep and rocky shoreline last night during a night of drinking and partying.
"It was very big," Chun Fat said.

He compared the shark to the size of a 25-foot boat, with a blunt snout and large tail, pectoral and dorsal fins.

"We thought maybe it was a big Tiger shark at first but then we flew at it with the sun at our back and said, 'That's no tiger shark,'" Chun Fat said. "It had no stripes, just dark gray. It looked like a big, stubby submarine."

Chun Fat is both a commercial fisherman and avid diver and said, "We see a lot of sharks out here — Galapagos, Tigers — but that's the first time I've seen a great white in person."

The shark's dorsal fin stuck about a foot out of the ocean and its tail fin also broke the surface of the water until the helicopter flew close by.

Even then, the shark dipped just below the surface of the ocean, Chun Fat said.

The missing man had been drinking at McKenzie State Park Saturday night when he jumped into the ocean just before dark and got into trouble.

Friends threw him makeshift flotation and tried to string ropes together, but they could not reach him, Chun Fat said.

The rocky shoreline features 30-foot cliffs and a strong ocean surge, Chun Fat said.

Fire officials today showed the tattered shorts to the man's family and the search for his body was suspended, Rosario said.

Another Great White shark at Monterey Bay Aquarium

A fourth great white shark in as many years has been placed on public display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

A young white shark was brought to Monterey from Malibu this afternoon, 12 days after she was caught in a seine net off the Southern California coast.

The shark, a 4 ½ foot, female weighing 55 ½ pounds, was brought north Wednesday in a 3,000-gallon mobile life support transport vehicle. Caught by aquarium collectors in Santa Monica Bay, she had been held since August 16 in a 4-million-gallon ocean pen off Malibu and was observed swimming comfortably and feeding in the pen before being brought to Monterey.

White sharks are in decline worldwide, in part because they’re slow to reproduce and because of growing fishing pressure decimating all shark species. White sharks are now a protected species in California and other U.S. coastal waters, as well as in South Africa, Australia, Mexico and several other nations.

Their fearsome reputation has also made them a target of trophy hunters and the curio trade.According to a news release, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the only institution in the world to exhibit a white shark for more than 16 days, and has documented the successful return to the wild of each animal kept on exhibit."As with three other white sharks brought to the aquarium since 2004, the aquarium hopes this one will stay on exhibit for months, as a way to change public attitudes and promote stronger protection for this magnificent and much-maligned ocean predator," the statement said.

Because of a planned renovation of the aquarium’s Outer Bay Exhibit starting in late 2009, this will likely be the last white shark placed on exhibit until 2011.Four other young white sharks were brought to the pen and ultimately released this summer because they didn’t demonstrate the swimming and feeding behavior that made this animal a candidate for exhibit.

Six other sharks caught accidentally in commercial fishing gear were tagged and released in the field as part of the aquarium’s ongoing White Shark Research Project.Since 2002, the aquarium and its partners have collected DNA samples, tagged and tracked 18 young sharks in the wild, and – on four occasions – brought a white shark to Monterey for exhibit.All three sharks previously kept at the aquarium were tagged and tracked after their release.

The latest, released in February, traveled to the southern tip of Baja California in 40 days then swam half way up the Sea of Cortez before its tracking tag popped free in mid-June and the battery on a second stopped reporting in late June.Nearly four years ago, the first female white shark exhibited in Monterey became “the most powerful emissary for ocean conservation in our history,” according to aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard.

The shark was part of the aquarium’s Outer Bay exhibit for six and a half months and was seen by more than a million people between September 15, 2004 and March 30, 2005. In follow-up surveys, visitors reported coming away with a deeper understanding of the need to protect white sharks and their ocean homes as a result of seeing the shark on exhibit.

Collectively, the three sharks exhibited at the aquarium have been seen by more than two million visitors. Since 2002, the aquarium has allocated more than$1 million toward field studies of adult and juvenile white sharks – research unrelated to the effort to put a white shark on exhibit. Data from tracking tags placed on adult and juvenile white sharks are providing new insights into the far-ranging travels of white sharks in the eastern Pacific, according to Barbara Block of Stanford University, a marine biologist and principal investigator with the Tagging of Pacific Predators – one of the aquarium’s key research partners.


The aquarium collaborates with the TOPP team and other researchers to tag young white sharks in southern California waters, and collect DNA samples for analysis of the population structure of white sharks in California and Mexico. Data from young white sharks tagged since the field project began in 2002 have been published in the scientific press, documenting the sharks’ use of nearshore waters in California and Mexico as “white shark nurseries.”

In the Monterey Bay Aquarium project, exhibiting white sharks has been the subject of a focused multi-year effort. This approach, developed in consultation with a panel of independent shark experts, is designed to minimize the stresses of collection, holding and transport.Before bringing a white shark to Monterey, members of the aquarium’s field team monitor its behavior to see if it has adjusted to swimming in an enclosed space.

The team offers salmon, mackerel and other fish, and confirms that the shark is feeding before an attempt is made to bring it to Monterey.The aquarium’s 1.2-million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit was designed for open-ocean animals like white sharks. It is home to Galapagos and scalloped hammerhead sharks, as well as large bluefin and yellowfin tuna, barracuda, ocean sunfish and other species.

With the first three white sharks, visitors saw the animals face-to-face, and learned about shark conservation issues in conversations with staff and volunteer guides; through an auditorium program devoted to the white shark project; and through exhibit graphics that specifically address the threats facing white sharks. Similar programs are in place for the new arrival.The aquarium is open daily through Labor Day from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Saturdays and Sundays until 8 p.m. (through August 31). Starting September 2, regular aquarium hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.


In October 2004, white sharks were granted additional protection by the 166 nations that are parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna.The aquarium encourages the public to get involved in shark conservation by using its “Seafood Watch” consumer pocket guide to sustainable seafood.

Details are online at

Through its Center for the Future of the Oceans, the aquarium works with other institutions and agencies to develop the best strategies for white shark conservation in California waters. It is also part of a coalition working to establish a network of marine protected areas, including protected marine reserves where fishing is not allowed, along the entire California coast.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Giant Great White shark tooth was found on the beach

A TOOTH from a massive Great White shark found on a British beach has raised fresh fears that the man-eaters are circling our shores.

The razor-sharp fang measured 6cms — nearly 2½ins. That means the beast it came from was probably about 20ft long.

The tooth is out there ... shark fang found on beach

Walker Steve Smith spotted the tooth at low tide near the Menai Strait, in Anglesey, North Wales — an area popular with canoeists and surfers.

Steve, 45, said: “I couldn’t believe the size of it. That’s what grabbed my attention.

“I was walking with my brother and it was just there, right in front of us.

“I do a lot of kayaking in that area. They also do a lot of surfing there. I’m sure this will scare some people.”

The discovery earlier this month came as millions of people were on UK beaches during the summer holidays.


It adds to mounting evidence that Great Whites, more normally found off Australia and America, are moving into British waters.

Experts shown the tooth by The Sun were impressed.

Steve Matchett, curator at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, said: “It certainly looks like a Great White’s tooth.” Fish Biologist Rachel Ball, from the National Museum of Liverpool, said: “It looks like a lower jaw tooth, with the serrated edge, from a Great White.

Jaws for thought ... Menai Strait beach where tooth was found

“The size indicates it’s reasonably close to full size — six or seven metres (19 to 22ft).”

It follows a possible sighting of a Great White last week by a North Sea oil rig crew off the coast of Aberdeen.

The man-eater was snapped by a remote-controlled sub, leading an expert to claim it was “an important sighting”.

Last summer The Sun published pictures of what is believed to have been a Great White off the Cornish coast.

And in January a mutilated seal was washed up in Norfolk. It is thought to have been bitten by a huge shark.

Great white spotted near Stinson Beach

A suspected great white shark has been spotted in the waters off Stinson Beach, triggering the National Park Service Monday to restrict water access at the popular Labor Day destination.

Officials said the shark was spotted around 7 p.m. Sunday about 125 yards offshore, north of the beach's main lifeguard tower, by a surfer who worked as a lifeguard for the Park Service last year.
The shark was thought to be a great white because of its size and the shape of its tail, Park Service spokeswoman Ozola Cody said.

John Ralph, chief lifeguard at Stinson Beach, said the shark was described as 8 to 10 feet long, which may indicate it is young.

"This shark had a lot of girth," he said.

Officials posted signs Monday to warn visitors of the sighting, and beachgoers will not be able to go in water past their knees.

Park Service officials will monitor the waters through Friday.

Ralf said "sharks are always out there" but that the last shark sighting at the beach was in May 2007.

He said the Park Service has informed the Stinson Beach Fire Protection District and other local agencies of the sighting, and that local surf shops will also be contacted.