Saturday, January 31, 2009

Beach reopens following sightings of sharks, including a Great White shark!

Lifeguards closed Thirroul Beach after wakeboarders spotted three sharks yesterday.

The sharks, estimated at 1.2m long, were spotted 300m offshore about 1pm.

After closing the beach, lifeguards conducted a grid search of the water using a jet ski from Stanwell Park and reopened the beach about 2pm.

Wollongong City Council spokesman Jason Foye said swimmers were kept aware of the threat and warning signs were put in place.

He said the jet skis were used not only to search the area but also to ward off any unwanted visitors.

"We use the jet ski as a control measure. The vibrations under the water do tend to send (sharks) away from the area," he said.

He said lifeguards continually monitored the beach from elevated positions "so they can maintain surveillance not only in the designated swimming area but up and down the beach".

It was the second shark sighting at Thirroul Beach this year.

Surfers said they saw a great white between 2.5m and 3.5m long on January 14.

"It sort of jumped up out of the water right next to one of the other guys, had a look around and then dived down and swam off," surfer Keith Fennell said at the time.

The latest incident is one of a string of shark sightings on Illawarra beaches this summer.

Sharks have been seen at Thirroul, Corrimal, Windang, Warilla, North Wollongong and Blacks beaches.

Twenty-four-year-old Steven Fogarty also suffered 40 puncture wounds to his right calf and cuts to his fist when he was attacked by a shark in Lake Illawarra on January 12.

Traveller will tell all about trip and experiences, even with Great White sharks

FORMER Herald writer and sub-editor Caroline Merry has embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, spending seven months travelling the world in search of sun, sea and unforgettable scenery.

Caroline, 24, has quit her job in journalism, selling her beloved VW Beetle to raise funds for the trip which will last a total of 283 days and include countless countries, cultures and sights ranging from Table Mountain to Ayer's Rock, Victoria Falls to the 'killing fields' of Cambodia.

Her adventure begins in Johannesburg – the starting-point of a camping safari that will see Caroline cross Zambia, Botswana and Namibia before finishing in cosmopolitan Cape Town.

The 25-day trip includes some nights spent sleeping under the stars, spying on Africa's predators on night drives and even braving a great white shark cage.

Next Caroline will journey to Singapore where she'll set off for North Thailand, stopping in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to trek through jungles, ride elephants and take in the stunning scenery of these parts before heading to Bali to work on her tan and try out the surf.

The next stop on Caroline's whistle-stop tour of the world will be Australia. Here she hopes to dive the Great Barrier Reef, stand in the shade of Ayer's Rock and get the perfect postcard picture at Sydney Opera House.

The final stop will be New Zealand, where sand will be replaced by snow and Caroline can hit the slopes for a spot of snowboarding before returning home.

You can read Caroline's latest blog online now by clicking here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Huge Great White shark sighted near popular beach

Police are urging swimmers to be on alert after a 16 ft great white shark was spotted by local fisherman in Edrom Bay, south of Eden in Australia yesterday.

Police are asking swimmers to watch their backs as sharks “do get a little bit confused may snap an odd leg.”

Tagging is imminent for Great White sharks in the Far North

Seeing a great white shark next to the boat is close enough for most people.

So imagine the nerves needed to haul one of the ocean’s most feared predators onto the boat to tag it.

For Conservation Department marine scientist Clinton Duffy, it’s all in a day’s work.

Clinton has spent the last three years hunting New Zealand’s coastal waters for great whites as part of a joint project between DOC, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, German website Shark Tracker and The German Society for Nature Conservation – NABU.

Next month, Clinton will hunt for great white sharks in the Far North in a bid to learn more about this species which is declining worldwide thanks to trophy hunters, shark control programmes, accidental capture in gill nets and vulnerability to over-fishing.

Tagging great whites with satellite tags will allow Clinton to capture data on light levels, temperatures and depths experienced by sharks.

His research has already debunked the image of great whites as cold water, coastal sharks.

Previously tagged sharks have been found as far away as Tonga, New Caledonia and the Great Barrier Reef and recorded diving to depths of 1000 metres.

Scientists have also discovered that great white sharks make trans-oceanic migrations to tropical waters.

They don’t know for certain why great whites take winter holidays in the tropics.

However, they may be searching for humpback whale calves, because a lot of tags have surfaced in or near calving sites.

Mr Clinton will talk about his work at the Houhora Big Fish and Sports Club on Friday at 7pm.

The evening promises to add a different perspective on the ‘Jaws creature of terror’ image that still plagues this vulnerable fish.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Surfing school owner neglects to tell students about the shark!

A SURF school owner has defended his failure to warn his class that a large shark was swimming close to teenagers on a popular NSW beach.

Should the students have been told of the shark?

Silvio Rodriguez was photographing other surfers near the surf school students about midday when he noticed a large shadow. "At first I thought it was weed, but I kept an eye on it then out of the corner of my eye I saw the massive fin come up," Mr Rodriguez, 31, said.

"It was only maybe 30m away from the nearest learner surfer." Former professional surfer Gary Hughes, who runs Gary Hughes Surface School of Surf and Surf Consultancy, said he was aware of the shark and had been monitoring it.

"I did not tell the students because they just would have worried," Mr Hughes, 50, said.
"It was just having a cruise, it wasn't showing attack behaviour."

What can you do if a shark attacks you?

• If you are in the water, remain calm. You cannot outswim a shark and sharks can sense fear.

• Keep your eye on the shark at all times. Sharks may retreat temporarily and then try to sneak up on you.

• If you can't get out of the water right away, try to reduce the shark's possible angles of attack.

• Fight. Playing dead doesn't work. A hard blow to the shark's gills, eyes, or, as a last resort, to the tip of its nose will cause the shark to retreat. If a shark continues to attack, or if it has you in its mouth, hit these areas repeatedly with hard jabs, and claw at the eyes and gills.

• If you are near shore, swim quickly, but smoothly. Thrashing will attract the shark's attention.

• Sharks have difficulty biting things that are vertical (their nose gets in the way) so avoid leaving your hands and feet loose or going horizontal to swim away from the shark.

• Sharks can't breathe out of water, so, if possible, hold the bitten part of your body out of the water, and get their gills into the air and they will let go of you.

• Sharks tend to thrash prey around to tear chunks out of it, so you should latch on to the shark.

• Repress the urge to scream. Screaming will not deter the shark much and may provoke it further.

Teenager fought 5 meters Great White shark

Syb Mundy, who saved his teenage cousin Hannah Mighall from the jaws of a shark, has shrugged off the tag of "hero".Mr Mundy, 33, said Hannah, 13, was the one who deserved accolades for her bravery.

Mr Mundy was surfing with Hannah at Binalong Bay, near St Helens, in Tasmania's north-east, yesterday afternoon when a five-metre great white latched onto her leg.The shark dragged her under the water twice before her cousin reached her on his surfboard and hit it on the head.

Mr Mundy was still in a state of disbelief when he spoke at the St Helens District Hospital in Tasmania, describing graphically how a casual surf at Binalong Bay almost ended in tragedy.
"We were just surfing and she was probably five or 10 metres out in front of me," he said.

"The next thing I know she screamed and disappeared under the water.

"She came up and was fighting the shark and hitting it and screaming: 'Help me, help me, help me.' We didn't see it coming.

"It dragged her around a bit and then she went down and under again. I was really worried. There was blood all in the water.

"It brought her up to the top again and I paddled over to her and tried to push it with the board and tried to hit it but I don't think it felt it really. It was a pretty big shark - a monster.

"It would have had two goes at her. She's lucky she didn't lose her leg.

"Hannah kept a really good head on her - kept it together.

"It grabbed her surfboard and dragged that under and she still had her leg rope on and it dragged her under again.

"The shark started circling us and coming up underneath us and when it did that we stopped and turned to face it so we could push it out of the way or poke it in the eye or something.

"She kept it together. There was blood everywhere and I didn't know whether it was going to try and bite her again.

"Then a wave came along and I said 'No matter how weak you are, try and hang on. This wave is going to save our lives.'

"And then we caught that wave to the beach, dragged her up on the beach and saw her leg had been mauled.

"It was pretty deep, in behind her knee was deep. You could almost see the bone. It was pretty horrible really.

"We were lucky the water was cold. It slowed her heart rate so when we pulled her out of the water the leg wasn't spurting blood everywhere.

"There happened to be a doctor and a nurse on the beach. We got a leg rope ... and wrapped it around and then wrapped some towels around to try and slow the blood down. We got a mobile phone and rang the ambulance.

"I just think it was meant to happen for a reason. I'm blessed.

"She was on the beach and whingeing about the pain. I said: 'You should be laughing that you're alive, don't whinge about the pain.'

"She's 13 years old. She made me very proud. She gave me the strength to stay there with her in the water - when I saw the way she was fighting it off.

"She was scared but she fought it off. She wasn't going to let it beat her.

"I was really scared but the way she fought that shark off. What are you going to do, leave your relative to die?

"I was stunned - I didn't know what to do. She was the one who pulled me through it. She's the hero. She's my hero.

"She's going to be all right, but she's going to have a big scar and a story to tell. She's a very, very, very brave girl.

"As for the shark, well they belong there, there's nothing you can do. It just did what it instinctively thought to do.

"That's life. Hannah would say the same. She actually wants to be a marine biologist and this hasn't changed her mind.

"When she came up I said: 'Try to get your leg rope off, try and get your leg rope off', and I was trying to look for the shark because it disappeared and all I could see was blood in the water.
"The leg rope is about six foot [1.8 metres] long, but then it broke and she popped up and I said: 'Jump on my back.'

"She jumped on my back and we started paddling to the beach and I said 'Don't let go, whatever you do don't let go.' "Mr Mundy said hitting the shark on the head "was like hitting a brick wall - it was that dense"."I didn't have a tape to measure it but it was huge. It was easily the length of a car."It was just a monster."

The Examiner, with AAP

Survivor of shark attack tells all!

October 23, 2002 started out as an ordinary day for 13-year old Bethany Hamilton, a Kauai native as she and her friends went for a morning surf. However, the morning took a terrible turn when a great white shark attacked her, severing her left arm.

Her friends paddled her back to shore and used her surfboard leash as a tourniquet. Though she had lost 70% of her blood, Hamilton survived the attack, and still surfs. The doctors say that if the shark had bitten her two inches higher, the attack would have been fatal.

Public dissection of Great White shark was quite educational

New Zealand scientists have finished dissecting a three-metre long great white shark as part of their research.

They found that its liver alone weighed 39 kilograms.

More than 2,000 people stood for hours under Auckland's hot sun to watch the public dissection at the city's museum.

The 300-kilogram female shark died a fortnight ago after getting caught in a fisherman's gill net in a harbour, north of Auckland.

The great white shark was only declared a protected species in New Zealand 18 months ago.
Marine scientist Clinton Duffy says nowadays there is less fear and more respect for the animals.
"I've also heard that the humble scallop is the most dangerous animal in New Zealand waters," he said.

"More divers drown hunting scallops than have ever been eaten by great white sharks in New Zealand"

When the scientists cut open the shark's stomach it was filled with brown mush.

On closer inspection they found fish bones, a tapeworm and a fish hook.

Mr Duffy says seals had also left bite marks on the shark's snout.

"The scarring on the snout tells us at this age the shark had switched to eating seals, so it tells us something about its diet," he said.

He says at three metres in length, the adolescent female could eat a seal whole.

Auckland Museum is keeping the organs for more research.

Robo-shark vs. Great White shark, what are facts or fiction?

  • Myhtbusters build "Robo-shark"
  • Test eye-gouging as survival method
  • Look at whether chilli can deter sharks

THE whacky scientific masters of TV program Mythbusters have set about their biggest challenge yet - constructing a mechanical, anatomically-correct great white shark.With 90 serrated metal teeth, powered by hydraulics and measuring 5m from tip to tail, the show's resident experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman dubbed the creature Robo-shark.

As shark sightings threaten to close some of Australia's most populated beaches, the Mythbusters crew used Robo-shark to test if it's possible to locate, reach and gouge the eyes of the fierce ocean dweller when under attack.

"(Mythbusters' daredevil) Tory Belleci was able to find the eye and hit the (eye) switch and turn it off but in my opinion if this was a real life situation it would be too late ... you're done," Hyneman said of the 15-second battle.

However, the program, which is airing during Shark Week on the Discovery Channel from January 18, passes the experiment off as plausible, acknowledging Australian spear-fishing champion Rodney Fox's survival of a similar great white shark attack in 1963.

Other controversial theories tested include whether or not dogs swimming in the ocean or using torches during night dives attract more attention.

Popular notions that sharks can be repelled with chilli and magnetism are also trialled. While the torch theory got the thumbs up, no proof was found to support claims that chilli or magnetic fields deter sharks or that frantic paddling and the scent of dogs attract the predators.

The best tips on avoiding becoming shark bait this summer include swimming in a group, not wearing shiny jewellery or brightly coloured clothing, and not entering the water if bleeding.

Great White shark to be dissected publicly is a...

It's a girl! Auckland Museum today made its proud announcement about its "long, sleek" great white shark thawing in its loading bay, awaiting dissection.

On Thursday the museum and the Department of Conservation (DOC) will perform a necropsy, or fish autopsy, on the shark and the public has been invited along to watch.

The free event is to raise awareness of the threats facing this vulnerable and unfairly maligned species, museum curator Tom Trnski said.

The three metre, 300kg shark was found in the Kaipara Harbour on Monday last week, tangled and dead in a gill net.

A protected species in New Zealand, the great white was recovered and frozen by DOC staff, and was now defrosting in preparation for the necropsy.

The procedure would be carried out by Clinton Duffy from DOC's marine conservation section and Dr Trnski.

"The great white arrived this morning and is currently wrapped in muslin to keep it moist while it thaws, however I did manage to carry out a cursory examination and confirm we have a female.
"It's exciting to consider what we'll discover about this magnificent species during the necropsy," Dr Trnski said.

"This is the first time the museum has ever carried out a public necropsy, and anticipation is building."

Auckland Museum's website will be screening footage of the great white necropsy from 2pm on Thursday.

They will look at the shark's stomach contents and measure its internal organs.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Beach reopens following fatal shark attack!

Swimmers have returned to the water at Port Kennedy, south of Perth, four days after a man was believed to have been taken by a great white shark.

Authorities on Wednesday said they had reopened the Cote d'Azur Gardens beach where 51-year-old Brian Guest, of Mandurah, disappeared while snorkelling with his son on Saturday.

Several shark sightings have been made in the days since, including a "huge" white pointer which surfaced beside the dinghy of a local fisherman and his wife on Tuesday.

Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said no sharks had been sighted during aerial and sea patrols in the last 24 hours and "beach closed" signs had been taken down.

"Our rangers met on site down at Port Kennedy this morning in consultation with the water police," Mr Sammels told ABC Radio.

"There've been no reported incidents last night or this morning.

"There's been a helicopter flyover and we decided to reopen the beach."

No trace has been found of Mr Guest apart from pieces of his wetsuit which were found on Saturday, close to the spot where witnesses said he was attacked.