Saturday, November 29, 2008

Taggin Great White sharks is quite an experience!

A PAIR of divers based at RAF Coningsby have been helping tag sharks in waters off Central America.

Plt Off Matthew Skulskyj, an air traffic controller and Cpl Matthew Wood, an aircraft mechanical engineer, are part of the Joint Services Shark Tagging Team (JSSTT), a group of divers who help scientists tag sharks.Their first deployment was to the Coco's Islands in Costa Rica, working with the Shark Research Institute (SRI). The tags are used to research the sharks and help publicise their plight.The Coco's Islands were the setting for the Jurassic Park films so the exercise was named Jurassic Shark.

A second expedition saw Plt Off Skulskyj and Cpl Wood work with a team of 16 military divers tagging great white sharks, whale sharks and scalloped hammerhead sharks around Guadalupe and the Revillagigedo Islands, off the Pacific coast of Mexico.Describing the experience, Plt Off Skulskyj said: "A fin breaks the surface of the water momentarily behind the boat, swiftly disappearing back under the dark blue water around Guadalupe."

You can see a dark shape slowly approaching the side of the small fibreglass boat where large lumps of bait are tied."You start to prepare yourself, checking what now looks to be a woefully inadequate pole spear which resembles a tent pole more than a piece of scientific equipment."You only have one chance and your aim has to be exact; too high and you'll miss, too low and you can potentially injure the very species you're trying to protect."This is it, the shape changes direction and builds up speed, rapidly approaching the bait tied just 3-feet below the thin deck."

It's getting closer, you can see the mouth begin to open showing row upon row of razor sharp triangular teeth, the eyes beginning to roll back."Suddenly it breaches the surface and you're looking down the mouth of a five and half metre Great White Shark."There is no time to think twice, you thrust the spear into the water, catching the shark in exactly the right spot just below the dorsal fin."The shark reacts, flicking its tail into the side of the boat, pushing it violently across the water."The Shark swims back down to the depths; however, it's now trailing a £1000 radio tag that will monitor its movements over the coming year."

* Have you had an exciting encounter with a creature from the deep?

Email or write to the Editor, Horncastle News, Church Lane, Horncastle LN9 5HW.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Great White shark washed ashore!

A great white washes ashore on a Lowcountry beach.

The 13-foot-long shark was found at Morris Island last week by fishermen.

The Department of Natural Marine Biologists says the shark may have starved to death or been stranded.

"They are extremely rare in this area. They're actually rare throughout their range. Their large apex predators, so there's basically not a lot of them around.. And they are actually solitary animals," DNR Marine Biologist, Josh Loefer said.

Great white sharks like cool coastal waters and are typically between 12 and 15 feet in length.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Australia: 18 foot Great White shark sighted near Kiah River's mouth

An 18-foot great white shark was spotted cruising near the Kiah River mouth by local salmon fishermen Roger Fourter, Peter ‘Mozzie’ Stevens and fisherwomen Julie Fourter last week.
Mr Stevens said “it was bigger than the fishing boat’s net boat which is about 16 feet.

“When we saw it, it was about a third of the way down from the Kiah river mouth to Moutries reef.
“There was wake coming off it and then its fin rose out of the water.

“It was about 15 foot off shore then it turned and went back out to the middle of the bay.”

The sighting has deterred Mr Stevens from participating in the annual lobster season.

“I usually go lobster diving this time of year but I leased my quota to a bloke up north.”

In a separate report given to National Parks and Wildlife Service the shark was seen inside the river mouth, feeding on Australian salmon.

The sighting comes almost two years after ex-abalone diver Eric Nerhus fought his way from the mouth of a great white after being attacked while abalone diving off Cape Howe, south of Eden.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Recovered tags give more information on Great White sharks

One of three electronic transponders so far discarded near Tonga by great white sharks tagged at the Chatham Islands has been recovered from the Ha'ateiho Reef.

Roger Miller and Bruce Dixson from Waste Management Ltd's Nuku'alofa office, found the $5200 tag at the coordinates it transmitted.

Mr Miller lives about 1.5 kilometres from the beach but was unable to find the tag before it stopped transmitting on November 7, the Matangi Tonga newspaper reported.

Last night the tag again transmitted briefly and Department of Conservation scientist Clinton Duffy in Auckland was able to send the new coordinates.

"We were able to track it by GPS to within 20 metres of its location and then we saw it lying on the reef," said Mr Miller. "It was slowly moving down the coastline".

There was no reward for the recovery but Mr Miller said that Air New Zealand's Nuku'alofa agent had offered to carry the tag free of charge back to Auckland.

The data it contains will be analysed by New Zealand marine scientists to trace the shark's diving behaviour and temperature preferences, and a record of light levels to roughly estimate the path it travelled.

The information may provide clues to why the sharks are travelling to Tonga, when local fisheries archives show no record of the species there.

Six great white sharks were tagged in the Chathams in April, and so far three tags have recently surfaced in Tonga, but this is the only one to be recovered.

The researchers said the tags appeared to have detached prematurely, and they hope two tags thought to still be attached will stay on until January to see if those sharks return to NZ waters.

Great White shark set a deep diving record!

A great white shark tagged off Stewart Island has set a world diving record as it crossed the Tasman Sea to the Great Barrier Reef.

Three four-metre-plus great whites tagged off the Chathams have also surfaced in Tonga for a midwinter feast of humpback whale calves.

News of the sharks migrating to the tropics surprised Malcolm Francis, of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in Wellington.

"We used to think great white sharks were shallow-water coastal species that lived in cold areas, where there were lots of seals to eat," he said.

"Now we have changed our impression of what they do."

Niwa and the Conservation Department have been attaching satellite tags to great whites, to measure position, depth and water temperature. After several months, the tags pop off and float to the surface, where the data is transmitted to a satellite.

Dr Francis said that this year two Stewart Island whites had gone 4000 kilometres to Queensland's Great Barrier. Surprisingly, they go in a straight line.

"They seem to know where they are going," he said, noting that they moved through the water at between 4kmh and 5kmh, or an impressive 120km a day.

Up to 70 percent of the time they are near the surface but this winter one of the whites dived. "We've got what we think is a world record of 1000 metres for a white shark."

He believes it would have gone after a giant squid or phosphorescent fish. At that depth it would be pitch black and the white would have been guided in by the fish glow.

A tag on a white shark popped up off Mana Island but its data was partly corrupted. The shark had been north to the tropics for winter and had come back in summer.

Three of six sharks tagged at the Chathams were found to have swum 3000km north to Tongatapu, the main Tongan island.

"They head off to the tropics, and we're not quite sure what they are doing but we think they are showing interest in humpback whales," Dr Francis said.

The areas the tags were found are humpback whale calving areas.

Evidence exists of whites feeding on dead whales and dead calves.

Now Niwa thinks the whites follow the whales when numbers begin declining in seal colonies over winter.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Great White sharks sighted close to shore

At least 27 great white sharks have been discovered swimming yards off the sandy tourist beaches of Australia's Mid-North Coast, a video crew said Friday.

The crew said it spotted the 10-feet-long juvenile sharks in the Port Stephens natural harbor as it was in a boat videotaping for a fishing DVD.

The sharks, the world's largest known predatory fish, could grow to more than 20 feet long and weigh up to 5,000 pounds.

On three other days Al McGlashan and his Strikezone video crew found an average of 16 great whites a day -- all between 6 feet and 10 feet long.

I've never heard of anywhere near this many in one area, McGlashan told The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph.

It's amazing. They are just babies or young sharks, he said.

Great White are passionate hunters!

Great white sharks can stir emotions like no other creature. For many, that emotion is fear, but for those with an adventurous heart, Great Whites can be a thing of wonder.You might think you need to head to South Africa or the South Pacific to see these creatures, but that's not true.

One of the greatest places to see these magnificent sharks is only a day trip from Sacramento.Recently, on a cold, damp morning, two CBS13 viewers and other local adventurers decided to uncover some of the mysteries of the great white shark for themselves. Just 27 miles away from the Golden Gate, the Farrallon Islands are considered part of the city of San Francisco, and is one of the four places in the world to view white sharks.Great white sharks are "intelligent creatures and magnificent creatures that need our protection," said James Moskito, an expedition leader for Shark Diving International.

After a two and a half hour trip from Emeryville aboard the 56-foot "Superfish," the rugged Farallons, also known as the Devil's Teeth, emerge from the mist to reveal their natural beauty. Once anchored, seal-shaped decoys are deployed to lure sharks toward the boat -- no chum is needed as the waters around the island uniquely teem with marine mammals, making the Farallons a world-wide hot spot for great whites.

Those wishing to experience a true up-close encounter can lower themselves into the expedition's reinforced shark cage, while others can choose to view from above."It's exciting to be out here," said shark-watcher Kim Yarris.

"A little bit scary because you have to know where to look at the right time."With eyes peeled above and below, everyone looks for the tell-tale sign of shark activity.And then, in the distance, a seal is attacked.

Seagulls circle the wounded seal, waiting to pick at the remains.While today's visit to the Farallons didn't bring the "close encounter" others have seen on Shark Diving International's expeditions, no one was left unhappy."If you just go for it and just realize that you are totally safe, it is just an awesome experience," said Jerric Fruits.

One of the reasons the people at Shark Diving International are so passionate about what they do is because the great whites play a key role in the oceanic food chain. It is also their hope that the more people learn about these sharks, the more that will be done to protect them.

Singles bar for Great White sharks?

A decade-long study involving thousands of scientists suggests that great white sharks meet at a specific spot between California and Hawaii in what marine biologists think may be an underwater singles bar.

The stretch of ocean the sharks make for - from both California and Mexico - is not a particularly rich feeding ground but it may act as a “singles bar” where they can find a mate.

“There is something going on there but as yet we don’t know,” said marine biologist Professor Ron O’Dor [Hee hee! "Odor"! -- Ed.]. “Maybe it’s just a good place to pick up girl sharks.”

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Great White causes fright

A FISHERMAN terrorised by a shark for half an hour off the Henley Beach coast yesterday said he predicted a "horrific summer" ahead.

Boat owner Lucio Signore, his 10-year-old son David, Joe Garreffa and Vince Vozzo were fishing for garfish between Henley and Grange about 4km from the shore when the shark swam into the motor.

It was the second shark sighting in a week with a great white shark spotted about near West Lakes Shore last Saturday.

But keen fisherman Mr Signore – who also saw the shark last week – said this was not the same shark.

"It was bigger, it was at least four to four and a half metres," he said.

"I see the occasional shark but to see two sharks in one week is just unbelievable.

"I've probably seen about half sharks in 20 years of fishing those waters.

"I think it could be a horrific summer, it doesn't look good I've never seen them that close."

Mr Garreffa yesterday described their frightening ordeal.

"Little David had his line cast out and he actually had a fish on the line and was bringing it in and then then shark just went straight for the motor and hit the back motor, but the motor was off," he said.

"Then it just swam under the boat and came back again several times, he was trying to bite the motor."

As the shark held the boat captive by bumping the boat, the savvy passengers decided to pull up the anchor and allow the boat to slowly drift before making their quick get-a-way.

"It was quite a unique experience, exhilarating I would say," Mr Garreffa said.

"I just could not believe how close we were and how close it was to the shore.

Mr Signore warned.

"I've just never seen anything like this before," Mr Signore said.

"I don't get too frightened very often but this one here put the shivers up my spine."

Lifeguard encounters Great White shark

COUNCIL lifeguard Dave White found himself in a scene straight from the movie Jaws when he spotted a buoy and then a fin moving off Mermaid Beach yesterday.

When he grabbed the buoy in shallow water just off shore, Mr White received a surprise -- on the end of the hook was a 2.3m great white shark.

"I was checking the flags on the beach when I saw the buoy moving and thought, 'that isn't right'," said Mr White.

"When he swam back against the current and I saw the fin I realised something was going on."
Thankfully the beaches were empty yesterday, as the grey skies kept many swimmers and beach revellers away.

It was the second great white caught off the Coast in the past three days after a 2.1m shark was hooked off Rainbow Bay on Wednesday.

It follows reports from scuba divers who saw three 4m great whites at The Pass at Byron Bay and at Smith's Shoal, near Flinders Reef off Cape Moreton, in the past two weeks.

Yesterday's action happened about 12.30pm. With the help of another lifeguard who left his tower up at Nobby Beach, Mr White managed to drag the line and wrangle the shark to shore.

"It was shock more than anything, especially when I realised it was a great white," he said.

A number of stunned witnesses watched as the shark was taken from the water.

Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Queensland shark control program manager, Tony Ham, said great white sightings were not uncommon on the Coast this time of the year.

"It's a bit unusual in that they normally tend to be held in the drum line once they have been caught," said Mr Ham.

"However, from time to time they will thrash and bite frenetically at the anchor rope, as happened yesterday."

The shark was on the beach for about 20 minutes before DPI&F officers took it away to be studied and to check its stomach contents.

Yesterday's catch was the twelfth great white caught in the nets on the Gold Coast since 2003.
Mr Ham said swimmers should be mindful of the great white's presence on the Coast. They would be around for at least another month as they followed the whale population on its migration south.

"It goes to show people should still exercise caution when they are swimming at the beaches, even if they are in the patrolled areas," he said.