Thursday, November 19, 2009

Huge Great White shark caught off Guadalupe Island

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"Expedition Great White" airs tonight at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel, and if the accompanying photo is an indication, the footage ought to be spectacular.

The location is Guadalupe Island, 160 miles west of Baja California, a truly spectacular destination and one of the world's largest seasonal gathering places for adult great white sharks. That's where researcher Michael Domeier has been studying the apex predators, and using satellite tags to determine their migration patterns and other habits.

And it's where TV fishing personality Chris Fischer got to play the role of angler -- and literally come face to face with a 4,600-pound white shark -- during a monumental capture aboard his 126-foot mothership, named Ocean.

"Like in the movie 'Jaws,' the first time we saw a shark come in and eat the bait and then take off and drag the buoys under and across the water it was a life-changing moment as an angler," Fischer said. "The experience of capturing and releasing giant great white sharks is nothing similar to an angling experience of capturing large pelagic fish. There's a sense of history, a sense of awe, humility and humbleness."

Domeier is a legitimate researcher, but some might question the methods: hooking and hoisting incredibly large sharks from the water -- even if for only brief periods and if great care is utilized -- for tagging, measuring and DNA sampling.

Domeier, however, assures that great care is utilized and that "this is a show about real science ... not science created for TV, which is so often the case."

Tonight's episode is part of a longer series that will air next summer and undoubtedly will shed significant light on the lifestyle of one of the world's most notorious and mysterious predators.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Crew member Jody Whitworth lifts the snout of a great white shark as Capt. Brett McBride removes hydration hose that keeps the predator alive while it's on deck. Credit: National Geographic Channel / Chris Ross


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