Thursday, July 09, 2009

Two Great White sharks caught in fishing nets of Korean coast

To Koreans, an attack by sharks as in ``Jaws'' used to be something that happened in other countries far away from here. But it may not be so now, as sharks have been seen along the coasts here in recent months.

The National Fisheries Research and Development Institute has warned vacationers visiting beaches to pay attention to sharks between May and September, saying the country is no longer a shark-free region.

The growing danger is due to rising sea temperatures and the expansion of warm currents to the peninsula. ``With the warm currents flowing toward the country, sharks' prey such as mackerel and squid, are coming to the coast, and sharks are following them,'' Kim Jung-nyun, a researcher at the institute, said.

Korea used to have reports of sharks in the Yellow Sea and sometimes off southern shores as well, but now sharks are found in the East Sea even though temperatures are relatively lower _ in February and March, two great white sharks were caught in fishing nets near Mukho Port, measuring 3.5 and 4.7 meters in length, respectively, and weighing 1 and 1.5 tons.

``Two sharks were caught in the early spring, even though the seawater temperature was not that high. Korea now needs to prepare for possible danger from sharks,'' Kim said.

According to the institute, great whites, shortfin makos, hammerheads, copper sharks and whale sharks are likely to appear off the Korean coast.

``On the west coast, there were six deaths from shark attacks over the last 20 years, and most of the victims were women divers. Korea has not had a report yet of a shark attack on a swimmer on the beach, but beach management authorities are coming up with preventive measures,'' Kim said.

Haeundae Beach in Busan, one of the most popular summer vacation spots, recently bought shark-repelling devices from Australia. The device, to be attached to jet skis, emits pulses of a 5-meter radius for six to seven hours, and can be used 45 meters below sea level.

Those enjoying leisure pursuits on the seashore, such as scuba divers, are advised to be careful. ``People are advised not to swim alone; at night; and when they are bleeding. When encountering a shark, they should not provoke it even if it is a small one, but just should get back to the beach quietly. It is also advisable for divers to tie ropes or belts on their ankles to make themselves look longer and bigger, as sharks do not attack an object larger than themselves,'' he said.

He also said that when a shark attacks, people are advised to hit its nose, where sensory organs are gathered, with wooden or iron poles, and then it will swim away.

By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter


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