Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Crushing its prey with jaws stronger than the great white shark

Did someone say "jaws"? Forget the great white shark: a 400-million-year-old, multiton fish may have had a bite powerful enough to chop a shark--or just about anything else--clean in two. To determine its strength, researchers reconstructed the ancient creature's jaw muscles from the grooves of a well-preserved fossil.

A well-known denizen of museum displays, Dunkleosteus terrelli could have exerted up to 1,200 pounds of force with its bite, the investigators estimate. When applied along its jagged snapping-turtle-like jaws, such a force would translate to about 8,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, the researchers find. "It was probably the first vertebrate that was able to fragment its prey before swallowing," says zoologist Mark Westneat of the Field Museum in Chicago.

Dunkleosteus grew up to 33 feet long and was the largest of a group of armor-plated predatory fish, the placoderms. The top ocean predator of the time, its prey could have included early sharks, large nautiluslike mollusks, arthropods and other placoderms, Westneat says.

A strong bite would have helped the "Dunk" contend with such armored fare, says paleontologist Gregory Erickson of Florida State University, who was not involved in the research. "You had to crack fairly thick pieces of shell or thick pieces of bony armor," he says. The estimated bite force of Dunkleosteus is comparable to that of a hyena or lion, and is probably stronger than that of a shark, he notes. "It'll go right through bone," he says of such a bite. "It's like a hot knife through butter."

CHOMP CHOMP: Dunkleosteus was the top predator 400 million years ago, likely using its crushing bite on creatures with tough shells or other armor. To reconstruct the size of the Dunk's jaw muscles, Westneat and his colleague Philip Anderson, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, made foam rubber casts of the muscle cavities in a Dunkleosteus skull replica. The length and cross section of each muscle allowed them to calculate maximum contraction forces based on the typical strength of a modern vertebrate muscle.

The researchers combined these values with a two-dimensional simulation of the fish's jaws, which fossils indicate could pivot at several points. Muscles on the top rear of the head and under the chin might have pulled its jaws open or held them in place so crisscrossing muscles in the cheeks could slam them shut. Such a multipivot system, in which some hinges stay still and others rotate, is highly efficient at transmitting force, the researchers observe in a paper published online November 28 in Biology Letters.

The muscle placement and pivot points of the jaw suggest Dunkleosteus may have sucked prey into its mouth before biting, like an extremely large-mouthed bass, the researchers note. Suction might have helped it contend with agile prey such as sharks, they observe.

Despite its bone-crushing bite and dominance of the seas, Dunkleosteus died out after 100 million for unknown reasons. It would not be the last word in chompers, however. Today's large alligators can generate a staggering 33,000 pounds of bite force, and the Tyrannosaurus rex probably outdid that, Erickson says.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Surfer has close encounter with Great White shark on Halloween

Surfer Tony Perez didn't have any warning when the great white shark struck.
"I didn't see a thing," the 22-year-old said.

"It hit out of nowhere," he said, snapping his fingers for emphasis. "That's the scariest thing about it. You never know what's going to happen."

It happened this Halloween, just before sundown, when Perez and two friends were about 300 yards off the mouth of the Siletz River surfing some of the best waves of the season.

The trio had been surfing about two and a half hours and muscles were getting fatigued when one of his friends decided to pack it in, saying he had a strange feeling.

All of the elements for "sharky water" were in place — sundown, off the mouth of a river, rainy weather with salmon running and seals. And to top it off, Perez, who had broken his surfboard in the morning, was using a loaner-board from The Oregon Surf Shop — a bright yellow loaner.
Some surfers believe yellow attracts sharks more than other colors, though shark experts say it isn't so.

"I guess Jeff left us out here for feeding time," Perez joked to the friend who'd stayed behind with him to catch a few more waves before the sun went down.

The words were barely out of his mouth when it happened.

"I felt a violent blast on the back of the board," said Perez, who was lying flat on his ride and just happened to have his legs bent with his feet up in the air. "It pulled me back and down, but my head didn't go under water. My feet came down on top of it, and I felt this huge rock-hard body, just this big old beast below me."

"I just started swimming as fast as I could away from him toward my buddy who was about 15 feet away," Perez said. "I swam like mad. I didn't know what to do man."

Perez's board was still attached to his ankle by a short leash. He yanked it to him and jumped back on.

He told his friend, who hadn't seen a thing, what happened. His buddy thought Perez was joking at first.

"I'm not kidding," he said. "We gotta get out of here."

As luck would have it, there were no waves to catch — so it was one long, exhausting sprint to the beach, Perez said. "Of course, I was first to the beach."

As he paddled he thought maybe some huge, angry seal had hit him.

"Then I got to the beach and saw the teeth marks."

The telltale u-shaped bite marks of a large shark stretched from one side of the 16-inch-wide surf board to the other — and up a good 14 inches into its 5-foot-7-inch length.

The shark's mouth had opened wide enough to get around and over the three fins jutting from the end of the board, and the teeth marks it left behind on the board measured 2-inches across.
After examining photos of the board and measurements of the bite marks, shark expert Ralph Collier in Los Angeles, said the attack was indeed from a great white that he estimates was between 16- and 17-feet long and at least 4,000 pounds.

Perez's friend back on shore had seen a large splash behind Perez's board but figured it was a seal.

"I just got lucky," Perez said. "I happened to have my legs up, and that's it. Otherwise I would have been a pirate for Halloween."

Perez didn't see nor hear the shark approach.

"That's the thing about great whites, especially, quick, heavy attacks," he said. "But he bit into a hard, epoxy surfboard, and that's not what he wanted. He expected a big juicy seal and instead got a mouthful of plastic fins and not any bit of me, no blood or anything. So he just backed off."

Perez was reluctant to share his story with the press, and he refused to pose for a picture on the beach in a wet suit with the board.

"I don't want to exploit myself over some act of God," he said. "I'm just lucky to be walking. I'm stoked to be surfing and stoked to still be here. But I don't want to be known as Mr. Shark Attack. I want to be known for my surfing."

That shouldn't be a problem for Perez, who — after only seven years at the sport — is not only one of the best surfers around say his fellow surfers but also a surfer with a sponsorship deal with Xcel wet suits.

"Tony rips," said Norman Eburn, manager of The Oregon Surf Shop in Lincoln City. "He's a super-talented surfer."

Eburn said shark activity as been up at local surf spots.

"This year there's been more than usual, with four or five attacks, more sightings and more bumps," he said.

His theory: "It might have something to do with the dead-zone."

The dead zone to which he refers is a recent reoccurring phenomena of oxygen-depleted water stretching from the central Oregon coast to the central Washington coast that has killed marine life and forced some creatures closer to shore in search of food.

But none of that fazes Perez, who was out surfing the very next morning after the attack — albeit at a different spot.

"I'm not that crazy," Perez said. "I wrote that spot off for a little while. But surfing is all I do. It's really important to me. And after something like that, it's like lightning striking — hopefully, it won't happen again."

For readers who wonder why such an experienced surfer, one who knows all the warning signs of shark water, put himself in such a risky spot, the answer is simple.

"Really good waves," Perez said, as though he were being asked the most obvious question in the world.

As for that yellow board, will he ever surf with one again?

"Hell no."

Great White shark is being monitored

Grey nurse and great white sharks along the New South Wales mid-north coast will be electronically monitored as part of a new research project to map their movements.

Listening stations along the coast will record the tag number of each shark as it swims past, the water temperature and the swimming depth.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, says the research will help to protect the sharks.

He says the underwater listening devices will show where sharks gather and mate.

"Installing around 60 acoustic listening stations, we call them SEACAMS, along the coast and there'll be a number around the Seal Rocks and also up around the Solitary Islands Marine Park off Coffs Harbour," he said.

"They'll work in conjunction with tags that will be placed on both the grey nurse and great white sharks - both are endangered species.

"This will give us more information about the patterns and movements of these sharks."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Face to face with sharks

"We've got shark!"

By the time a crew member shouted the cry, 17 divers aboard the M/V Islander had just about given up hope of discovering a geographically desirable great white shark destination at Isla de Guadalupe. The boatload was skunked on the first day of a three-day trip — not a shark in sight.
And no worries if you're not a scuba diver. No dive certification is required to dive with great whites, and no gear is needed other than a mask, booties and a wet suit with hood. While many a novice has been introduced to great whites, it's hard to imagine a new diver suiting up, jumping into the cage and controlling their buoyancy in the presence of the sharks.

News of the great white shark migration to Isla de Guadalupe, 175 miles southwest of San Diego and west of Punta Eugenia on the Baja California Peninsula, sounded too close to be true. Great whites started migrating to Guadalupe about 10 years ago. Little is known about their habits or where they go when they depart in December. The population is estimated to be around 50, unlike the thousands that prowl the waters off South Africa.

In recent years, the adventurous have headed to Gansbaai, South Africa, the hot spot for catching great whites in action. A large population was discovered gorging on newborn Cape fur seals precariously perched on Dyer Island.

About half a dozen of our Guadalupe divers had experienced close, exciting encounters in South Africa, where you don't have to climb into a cage to catch the action. The great whites there can be counted on to breach the water as they hunt seal pups. But Baja California is a whole lot closer than a two-day trip across the Atlantic.

Departing San Diego, the 80-foot M/V Islander motored 23 hours through moderate chop to reach Guadalupe. Captains Shane Slaughter and John Conniff, co-owners of the boat, spend spring and summer running two- and three-day albacore and yellowtail trips off Baja waters. Between August and December, when the fishing season slows, they haul out two aluminum shark cages and run five-day diving charters, primarily for Patric Douglas' Absolute Adventures.

Shark master and dive instructor Luke Tipple, a cheerful Aussie, emphasized safety concerns. One safety procedure is to chum fish meal and drift skipjack bait away from the camera aperture or opening of the cage windows. "The sharks will come close and eye-ball you, but we don't want them coming directly toward the cage for the bait."

The boat is basic. Its double- and triple-bunk cabins share two bathrooms. The galley/salon seats 24 passengers in four leather booths. Cozy, you might say, with limited privacy.

Cook Paul Grebetz did his sous-chef prep in a small, open galley. His cuisine was hearty and heavy "fisherman fare." And there was lots of it, usually richly topped with gravy or butter. Grebetz's baking surpassed his tasty meals; he cooked a mean rhubarb and strawberry pie, fresh fruit turnovers and all the bread.

Just after sunrise, the ocean settled as the island came into view. The starkly beautiful island is a geological wonder. Its 98 square miles are environmentally isolated, surrounded by deep water. Dramatic vistas along the north end of the island rise to 4,200 feet, high enough to create its own weather system. Isolated areas of colorful red volcanic layers bring to mind the Grand Canyon.
Guadalupe island pine and cypress trees condense cloud moisture into freshwater springs, supporting a community of plants along the top ridge of the island. After goats were introduced by sealers and failed ranching enterprises, the island was wiped clean of most vegetation.

Around every shoreline bend is a unique lava formation. Fur seals perched on top of large boulder rock falls, while elephant seals (both with pups) slumbered on beaches.

The crossing had seemed like an endless rock and roll, with a half-dozen of the divers suffering various degrees of seasickness. On arrival, the group came alive with anticipation. Supposedly, every boat and captain has a different name for Guadalupe's bays. "We call this North Bay." Anchored at the site of a former federal prison, currently a Mexican research station, they are attempting to measure shark movement using triangulated buoy transponders.

Captain Shane and the four deck crew members deployed the 4-by-10-foot cages with an electronic boom, lowering them three feet below the surface and a similar distance away from the stern. A pump chummed fish meal into the water, quickly attracting schools of scad mackerel and top smelt. Two 5- to 6-pound skipjack were floated on buoys off each side of the hinged adjacent cages.

Four divers rotated in hour-long shifts in each cage. Hookah lines filter compressed air through ScubaPro regulators to divers weighted with harness-type vests. Pocketed with 35 to 40 pounds of weight, negative buoyancy enables divers to stand or sit on the bottom of the cage. Circling the perimeter of the cage was a 2-foot camera aperture opening.

Three taps on the cage meant rotation time. Unless you have very long legs, getting out of the cage was awkward. After handing cameras to the crew, the exit required climbing a metal ladder and then precariously balancing on the top of the cage. A wrist grab from the crew was required.
Dive instructor Tipple warned: "The worst-case scenario is to fall off the cage into 200 feet of water with 40 pounds of negative buoyancy weight pulling you into the abyss."

Swimming gracefully like a whale shark, a 15-foot female great white, her neck covered with mating scars, circled the boat. Then a smaller male appeared. The adrenaline rushed, but the sharks appeared to have little interest. They continued circling except when one launched into high gear to grab a dangling skipjack. When sharks were around, the hour seemed like minutes. Fortunately, on the second day, everyone enjoyed the thrill of seeing four great whites.

On our final day, viewing began as usual at 7:30 a.m. A single great white appeared around 10 a.m. and swam aimlessly under the boat at a depth just out of camera focus. But he stayed with us for most of the day, occasionally teasing us with a nearby swim-by.

If you are keen on being in the water with this apex predator and aren't keen on traveling as far as South Africa, Guadalupe is the place to go. There may not be as many sharks to be seen, but a single great white will do.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Great White shark adventure for tourists

"Over there -- shark!"

After nearing the Farallon Islands, 26 nautical miles (48 km) west of San Francisco, the boat's captain shouts out. A slick of dark red seal blood spreads across an ocean surface slashed by the occasional bobbing of a great white shark fin.

For a small group of shark enthusiasts, the adventure was only beginning. It was time to don a wetsuit and enter a cage the size of an elevator to view one of nature's fiercest predators face to face.

"We never came to California before because we were afraid of earthquakes," said an enthusiastic David Fietz, 46, who owns some oil wells in Midland, Texas. "But I've always wanted to see a great white shark."

Every year, a few hundred adventurous tourists climb into a submerged cage off the remote Farallon Islands in hopes of encountering at least one of the 20 to 40 great white sharks that prowl the waters from September to November.

The last trip of the year takes place on Sunday, but new federal rules under discussion could limit future visits to one of the world's great concentrations of great whites.


Divers put on thick wetsuits then climb into the frigid water and the cage moored at the back of the boat.

"This cage has never been hit head-on or bitten, but it has been touched when a shark was cruising sideways," said David Moskito, who was leading the dive for Great White Adventures.
A great white has never eaten anyone in a cage off the Farallons, although one well-known skin diver was seriously injured during an attack in 1962. But there are always a few seasick passengers on the choppy 12-hour tour, which costs $775 a person.

Moskito lowered into the water by rope seal-shaped decoy lures made of a carpet-like material.
Teams of four divers take 30-minute turns in the cage and spend much of the time gazing into the ever-swirling interaction of seawater and light in search of a shark.

On Friday, several divers saw nothing living, but by afternoon, a few sharks did slowly pass by, one apparently curious about the decoy but not hungry enough to bite.

"The cage wasn't what I expected, but just seeing a kill on the water was exciting enough," said Deema Ghosheh, a lawyer from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

From the surface, the group saw signs of another killing, probably of a sea lion. As blood rose to the surface, a shark bobbed along the surface and birds swooped, seeking scraps.

Across the water echoed the yelping of sea lions and elephant seals splayed on the rocks of the islands, whose sole human inhabitants are a few research scientists.

Later, the crew lowered waterproof speakers into the sea and played some AC/DC songs including "Highway to Hell," saying the heavy metal vibrations help lure the toothy hunters.


Great White Adventures has operated the tours since 1998. Because there are no rules governing such shark tourism, some environmentalists are seeking wide future restrictions.

"One of our concerns is that white shark research and ecotourism has become very popular," said Maria Brown, superintendent of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

"When we started looking at the white shark issue there was one white shark researcher, one ecotourism operator. Since then there have been up to nine ecotourism operators and two to three researchers interested, all looking at the same shark (species)," she continued. "Our preference is to make sure the sharks are not disturbed."

The Point Reyes Bird Observatory works with the U.S. government to conduct scientific research and oversee the Farallons, which have a very extensive bird population.

"We are concerned about activities by for-profit enterprises attempting to show white sharks to paying customers," the group says on its Web site. "We feel that the sharks are at risk and that regulations are needed."

Moskito says his company welcomes regulation to keep out unscrupulous operators and says his tours do not disturb sharks. "If it could be shown this was hurting the sharks, I'd be gone tomorrow," he said.

Last month, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed new rules that would bar moves to lure sharks with decoys and keep non-licensed boats at least 50 yards from sharks near the islands.

Generally tour operators do not "chum", tossing overboard blood and meat in a practice sometimes used by great white tours in South Africa and Australia, Brown said, even though rules do not ban it at the Farallons for those fishing.

The agency is now inviting public comment and will implement new rules sometime next year, she said.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Great White shark, an apex predator!

The Great White Shark is an efficient predator and because it is at the top of the food chain, its status is an indicator of the sea's health - if great white populations run into problems, it's likely that the marine world they inhabit is threatened, too.Adult females reach maturity between 14 and 16 years of age and can reach over seven metres in length.

Males generally mature around 10-12 years of age and can grow to more than five metres. They are skilled hunters, preying chiefly on seals, sea lions, fish, squid and even whales. Their colour is typically slate-grey or olive-brown, often with a bronzy sheen on the flanks; a strong, variable and blotchy line separates a dark upper and white lower surfaces.

Great whites are found throughout the temperate marine waters of the world, but they appear to prefer regions where there are or were substantial numbers of seals. Main populations of the great white are found in waters off southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the north-east and Californian coasts of America, southern Mexico, Chile and the Mediterranean. They can also be found in smaller numbers off the Brazilian coast, the Caribbean, the Azores, Hawaii, north-west Africa, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and the Seychelles.

No-one knows how many great whites there are: indeed, we cannot make even an educated guess. Within their known extensive range, white sharks seem to show up wherever and whenever it suits them - sometimes singly, other times in pairs or occasionally in larger numbers.Reproduction.

Great White Shark embryos hatch from eggs inside the mother, and are nourished until birth by the production of large numbers of extra unfertilised eggs. The gestation period (length of pregnancy) is uncertain but is thought to be more than a year. Pups are born in litters of between seven and nine, and they are between 120 and 150cm long. Current threats & problems. The Great White Shark has only one known natural enemy with which it competes - the killer whale or orca.

However, its only serious predators are humans, who kill it mainly for trophy sport, occasionally for food but also because we fear that it will otherwise kill us. What WWF is doing. WWF is funding work in the Mediterranean to protect the Great White Shark and other marine wildlife. The project will investigate its distribution and draw up a map of areas important to its survival. WWF will then assess the conservation status and management of these areas so we can lobby Mediterranean governments to provide vital protection for the Great White and other marine wildlife.

WWF also funds the Shark Trust, which we helped set up in 1996. The Shark Trust is the only non-profit making organisation working solely to protect sharks in British and European waters. This factsheet is based on information provided by the Trust.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Great White shark is being monitored

Sharks in Mexico are far larger than the sharks that have been scaring local beach-goers, according to local shark catcher and researcher Stephan Swanson. Along with a team of Mexican scientists and documentary film-makers from National Geographic, Swanson travelled to Guadalupe Island off Mexico's coast in October, where he became the first person to successfully catch and fit a five-metre Great White shark with a satellite transmitter. Swanson, from Lansdowne, is a highly experienced researcher and fisherman who worked for Marine and Coastal Management for 19 years. He left in 2005 to start his own business.

'They were huge and looked like mini submarines when passing my vessel'The 1.2 ton female Great White, named Claudia, was released unharmed into the Pacific Ocean after biological data was recorded. The shark is being monitored daily. The project aimed to monitor shark movement patterns to understand their migratory behaviour and how they interact with the surrounding eco-system."In South Africa, I had only ever seen two sharks over five metres in length," said Swanson.

"In Guadalupe, they were all between five and six-and-a-half metres in length. They were huge and looked like mini submarines when passing my vessel."The shark catching technique involved landing the shark on a custom-built cradle, where a satellite transmitter was fitted to its dorsal fin. A one-hour documentary on the expedition, Unlimited Shark, will be screened on National Geographic early in 2007.

The team's observations were of huge interest to local scientists as very few sexually mature females more than 4.5m long have been observed, leading to speculation that this segment of the population remains rare.

'There was a lot of adrenaline rushing through my body'Pretoria University PhD student Ryan Johnson, who is based in Cape Town to study Great Whites, said: "There was always a nagging thought in our minds that we were simply not seeing the really large sharks because they did not respond to chum. "It's interesting to know that at Guadalupe, six-metre Great Whites are routinely observed from boats. It raises the question: where are ours?"

After two failed attempts at catching the shark on the third day at sea off Guadalupe, a slight modification to the equipment ensured the team's success the following day."At first, the power and mass of the shark proved to be too much for our hooks, which straightened after hook-up and allowed the shark to escape," recalled Swanson. "But once I caught the shark, there was a lot of adrenaline rushing through my body." Once the shark had been hooked, the only noticeable difference to his South African experiences was the added stamina and mass of the shark.

"The only hurdle was fitting the five-metre shark into a cradle that was designed to hold sharks only up to four metres long," he said. Claudia was injected with vitamins and antibiotics by a qualified vet to aid her recovery from the ordeal and she was closely monitored while on the cradle, he said.The team's only disappointment was not being able to fit any larger sharks on the cradle and thus only catching Claudia.

Swanson said Guadalupe had a well-developed shark cage diving industry and found that there were many differences between the operations at Guadalupe and South Africa. He said that no regulations, permits or codes of conduct existed to govern cage diving operations, such as those in South Africa. Another major difference was that all the companies operating around the island were American and that the industry offered little economic or educational benefits for local Mexicans.

Over the days following the capture, transmissions showed that Claudia had been swimming near the island.Over the next few months, researchers will be able to follow her movements from their laboratories."Who knows, maybe Claudia will emulate the migratory feats of 'Nicole', the famous South African shark who stunned scientists by swimming from South Africa to Australia and back, the longest recorded migration of any shark," said Swanson.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Fundraising for Cape Town shark spotters

A cheque for R10 068 has been handed over to the Shark Spotters Programme in Cape Town by the Kahuna Surfing Academy, organisers of the attempt on the Guinness World Record for the ‘most surfers standing on one wave’ and Shark Debate in Cape Town in September.

The amount was raised through donations by spectators and the profits from the project that saw over 300 local surfers take to the waves at the popular Muizenberg Corner surfing venue on Sunday 17 September to ride six waves in an hour, one of which saw 73 surfers riding on one wave simultaneously for more than five seconds.

“Many thanks for this donation,” said Yvonne Kamp, coordinator of the Shark Spotters Programme at the cheque handover at Muizenberg Beach. “The funds will be put to good use,” she added, explaining that the programme was being expanded from the original sites at Muizenberg and Fish Hoek to include St James and other beaches in False Bay as well as popular surfing beaches on the Atlantic coast of the Peninsula such as Long Beach, Kommetjie, and the Hoek on Noordhoek Beach.

The fund raising project was conceived by the father and son duo of Paul and Dene Botha to raise awareness of the Great White shark situation around the Cape Peninsula that has seen more than a dozen attacks in the past four years, three of them fatal and four in which victims lost limbs or were maimed.

A debate staged in a marquee tent at the beach and attended by over 100 people, was presented with the city’s draft Shark Safety Strategy compiled from 17 papers submitted by shark scientists, local government and others that features the Shark Spotting Programme as it’s core mitigation policy to protect humans in the ocean.

The gathering also heard presentations from Cape Town Tourism, the NSRI and concerned ocean users representing surfers, lifesavers, surfski paddlers, divers and fishermen. Serious concerns were raised, particularly about the shark cage diving industry, which was completely absolved of any blame for the increase in inshore shark activity by the shark scientists who compiled the strategy document.

“Thanks to the support of the surfing community, surf industry and generous sponsors the project successfully presented the city’s shark strategy, voiced the concerns of ocean users, claimed a world surfing record for Cape Town and raised some funds for the Shark Spotters,” explained Paul Botha.

“We were fortunate with the weather and waves and the huge turnout stretched our organisational capacity to its limits,” he added, “So we know it can be done better and we’ll run another attempt next year and hopefully raise even more funds.”

More than R2 200 was donated by members of the public on the day and over R7 000 in profits from the project came from donations from the participants, sponsorship that funded the participation and travel costs for more than 50 young surfers from disadvantaged communities, competitions such as a raffle and Dig for Gold and an auction that sold donated products.

“We were overwhelmed by the response to the event,” commented Dene Botha who had registered the record attempt with the Guinness World Record organisation in London in May after seeing that a new record of 44 surfers on a single wave had been set in Ireland. “We were hoping 200 surfers would participate, but well over 300 got involved and we’re now awaiting confirmation for our claim of 73 surfers on one wave.”

Prime time for diving with Great White sharks

The MV Islander currently situated 210 miles southwest of San Diego, California at famed Great White shark site Isla Guadalupe reported back this morning they had entered into the “Time of the Titans.”Luke Tipple, dive operations manager for Shark Diver, reported the arrival of two new 17 foot female Great White sharks today. “

They were absolutely magnificent,” says Tipple, “Prime examples of breeding aged white sharks, probably topping out at least 2500 pounds each. The first female glided by our divers with a tail slap to the port cage that shook a few fillings loose.”Eco-adventurer and Shark Diver CEO Patric Douglas was thrilled at the news. “We’ve been documenting the arrival of much larger sharks in late Oct and early November each season, just around Halloween each year.”

From early shark tracking data, the Shark Diver crew along with researchers from CICIMAR and UC Davis are discovering that these females appear to be feeding on the local population of Guadalupe Fur Seals. At this time in the season the young pups are swimming close to the coastline. Unfortunately for them it’s where the large sharks are also hunting.There are few places in the world that feature consistent sightings and interactions with Great White sharks as Isla Guadalupe.

Douglas speculates that a divers' best chance for seeing sharks as long as 18 feet (or more) is in November. As he and his team have discovered with past Great White shark diving off the coast of California and off the Oregon coastline, sharks of that size don't just wander around aimlessly - they are destination animals, just like any migratory species.To see Great White Sharks in action in November, call Shark Diver at 888.405.3268 or visit www.sharkdiver.com to book your trip today.

About Shark DiverSince 2002, Shark Diver has introduced divers of all ages to the extraordinary world of cage diving with Great White Sharks. In the last few years, Shark Diver has expanded to offer cage diving trips with Tiger Sharks in the Bahamas, Giant Squid encounters, Whales Sharks in Honduras, as well as deep-dive submarine trips to see giant deep water sharks in Roatan.

CEO Patric Douglas is a natural born eco-adventurer, who started his career in the U.S. Virgin Islands in hotel tourism, spent two years as a tour guide in Vietman, Bali, Hong Kong, Australia/New Zealand and Latin America, served as an outdoor reporter for CBS in San Francisco, and founded an outdoor adventure club called "Absolute Adventures," which continues to thrive in San Francisco today.

For the past several years, Douglas has dedicated his life to providing educational and interactive experiences for clients through shark diving. In addition, Shark Diver is partially funding efforts to preserve the habitat and safely study the Great White shark species at Isla Guadalupe. For more information on Shark Diver and Patric Douglas, visit www.sharkdiver.com.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Great White shark season has started in Australia

It's official! The shark season has started with a 4 metre white pointer spotted off Trigg Beach this weekend.

The shark spotter plane noticed it before 8am on Saturday morning when it was seen about 100 metres from the shore.

They notified the water police who sent a patrol out where it was confirmed that the shark was a White Pointer or Great White.

The shark was tracked for an hour until the police and a surf life saving patrol lost sight of it while the plane was refueled.

It's believed that the shark was chasing dolphins. Trigg beach was closed for about 90 minutes before the all clear was given a little later at 9.30am.

This isn't the first time that a White Pointer has been spotted in the last few days, another one was sighted by fishermen a couple of days ago.

Last summer 57 sharks were spotted but only two were considered to be a threat to swimmers. One of those was a massive five or six metre white pointer seen off Mindarie.