Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Great White shark season!

THE shadow appeared 150m from shore. A dark stain to the right of the surf ski. Then it disappeared.For a second Linda Whitehurst questioned her judgment. The ominous presence so swift and silent it didn't seem real.

"But then I looked over my shoulder and saw it was back," the Byron Bay nurse said.

"It turned around so quickly my stomach flipped. I knew right then it was coming for me."

The 52-year-old mother-of-two likened the impact of the 3m great white to a head-on collision. She was launched into the water when the shark struck her ski off crowded Byron Bay beach The Pass.
Mrs Whitehurst can't remember what happened next. According to her husband, Glen, who was paddling a second ski behind her, Mrs Whitehurst and the shark went down and surfaced twice.
"I think my brain's blocked it out," she said.

"The shark may have knocked me me under the water because my left upper thigh and right knee are so sore I'm having trouble walking.

"But I do remember what happened next. I don't think I'll ever forget."

Mrs Whitehurst came up for air. Still holding her paddle and determined to fight, she looked down and saw the shark slowly rising, jaws open and gums a terrible pink.

"I looked right into its eye and there was nothing there," she said.

"No sign of life. It was so strong and mechanical and the neck and underside were so white.
"I knew then that I'd lose a limb, if not my life, because you don't get out of something like that."
For several seconds she and the shark were face to face. Eye to eye at 11.30am on Monday.
"I don't know how to explain it except it was like a scene from Jaws. It was just exactly like that. One minute it's all sunshine and blue water and the next minute I'm looking a great white shark right in the eye."

Mrs Whitehurst attacked the shark – she kicked, punched and lashed out with her paddle – then swam to her ski several metres away.

"Then it was like I had this super-human strength and I just paddled and paddled. Glen was screaming, 'Don't put your feet down until you hit sand'," she said.

"Then we were on the beach and yelling to people to get out of the water."

Queensland shark authorities have warned beachgoers to prepare for a busy summer season with large numbers of great white sharks and breeding predators offshore.

Shark experts said packs of great whites followed migrating whales in October and November while bull and tiger sharks bred close to shore.

Department of Primary Industries shark-control program manager Tony Ham said many sharks became aggressive in summer and swimmers needed to heed shark warnings.

"It's warm, there's plenty of food around and, yes, sharks are more active and aggressive," Mr Ham said. "Many sharks are moving into the rivers to breed and generally moving around a lot more.
"This obviously coincides with the busiest time of year at the beach."

He advised swimmers to avoid dirty water, river mouths, creeks and canals.

The danger signs are already appearing. Last week a great white, believed to be the same shark that attacked Mrs Whitehurst, menaced a kayaker at Wategos Beach, the bay beside The Pass where the first attack occurred.

And last Saturday, Brisbane civil construction supervisor and keen spearfisher Adam Wood was attacked by a bronze whaler 240km east of Cairns at noon.

The shark latched on to the 31-year-old's leg during a spearfishing trip at remote Holmes Reef.
Two divers helped fight off the shark which tore a 30cm chunk from Mr Wood's right calf. He was recovering in Cairns Base Hospital yesterday.

In previous years, others have not been so lucky. Sarah Whiley, 21 of Brisbane, died after she was attacked by one or more bull sharks at Amity Beach on North Stradbroke Island. Ms Whiley died from her injuries soon after the attack in January 2006.

Ms Whiley's mother, Dorothy Whiley, who lives just minutes from the beach on the Sunshine Coast, said she wasn't ready to discuss the incident.

"It's not something we're willing or ready to talk about," Mrs Whiley said.

The families and friends of those killed by sharks receive little closure. The attacks are random, largely unpreventable and fast.

In a spate of horror attacks, two people died in 54 days on the Gold Coast in 2002 and 2003. The deaths, in man-made waterways near family homes, shocked residents and angered authorities.
Mr Ham said the waterways were popular with bull sharks – aggressive animals that attack more humans than any other species do. He said shark experts had warned residents to stay out of ocean-fed canals and lakes.

"You go swimming in there at night and you'd be hard pressed to find a more perfect place for a shark attack.

"The sharks go up the river, into the canals and populate the lakes. Not a good place to swim."
In February 2003, Gold Coast lawn bowls legend Bob Purcell was attacked and killed in Burleigh Lake. The 84-year-old regularly swam the brown body of water which connects to the Nerang River, Tallebudgera Creek and the South Pacific Ocean.

"I believe Bob was badly bitten on the leg and bled out," Mr Ham said.
"We believe it was a bull shark."

In December 2002, 21-year-old Beau Martin disappeared while swimming across Burleigh Lake at 2.20am. His badly bitten body was found two days later.

At least seven shark attacks have occurred in Gold Coast inland waterways since 1988.
"Don't do it," Mr Ham said. "Do not swim in the canals and lakes."

There have been other attacks this year. On April 26, a 13-year-old suffered serious leg injuries when attacked while swimming near a jetty at Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
On March 12, 59-year-old Mary Ryan was bitten on the leg as she swam at Moore Park beach north of Bundaberg. She was in chest-deep water when a bull shark hit.

On February 3, 26-year-old Matthew McIntosh was badly bitten on the foot and leg while boogie boarding off Shelly Beach near Ballina on the New South Wales north coast.

On January 23, 41-year-old abalone diver Eric Nerhus miraculously escaped after a great white half-swallowed him head-first off Eden in southern NSW.

In December 2006, 15-year-old Zac Golebiowski lost his right leg and part of his left calf during a shark attack at Wharton Beach in Western Australia.

According to the US-based International Shark Attack File there were six Australian shark attacks and 62 world wide in 2006.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Great White shark on the prowl...in Oregon

It wasn’t a good weekend for two mammals on the northern Oregon coast – a seal and a sea lion both washed up with what appear to be major shark bites from a great white, aquarium officials said.

The seal's bite wound.

On Friday, a dead harbor seal drifted onto the beach at Seaside with a two-foot chunk taken out of its back. And since Saturday, an extremely unhappy California Sea Lion has been resting on a beach with a sizable wound.

In both cases, officials believe it was a shark -- likely a great white shark – that attacked.

"It could have been an orca," said Keith Chandler with the Seaside Aquarium, "but it's more likely a shark. A killer whale would likely mess the thing up a lot more, or eat the whole thing."
The harbor seal with a gaping hole in its back was a full-grown adult, probably about six years old, officials said.

"They often swim upside down, so they probably weren't paying attention when the shark came down on it," Chandler said. "I've never seen a hole that big in a seal."

"The entire backbone is gone," said

Great White shark attacked woman in kayak off Australian beach

A woman fought off a 2.5-meter (8-ft.) great white shark with paddle after it knocked her off her kayak at one of Australia's most popular beaches on Monday.

Linda Whitehurst, 52, was paddling her sea kayak near the eastern resort town of Byron Bay, about 600 kilometers (375 miles) north of Sydney, when the shark lunged at her, knocking her into the water, the paddler and police said.

It was one of two shark attacks in Australia on Monday.

"I'm going to lose a limb, that was my first thought," Whitehurst told Australian television.

"I had my blade in my hands so I punched at it with my blade. That was the only way I was going to survive," she said, referring to the double-ended paddle used on sea kayaks, a type of covered canoe used for surfing or camping expeditions.

"I just kept punching, punching, punching" at the shark until it swam away, she said.

Whitehurst made her way back to shore, where she received four stitches in her right arm for a small bite wound. Her vessel shows bite marks underneath.

The local lifeguard association closed the Byron Bay beach, in New South Wales state, for several hours until they located the shark and chased it out to sea using boats, a common practice in Australia when sharks venture close to popular beaches.

Earlier Monday, a 31-year-old man was attacked by a bronze whaler shark while spear-fishing near Australia's Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Queensland state.

The man, who was not identified, was treated onboard his charter boat for a deep cut to his calf muscle before being airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in the northern city of Cairns.

The Great White shark is amongst the endangered species

DIVERS are being urged to take part in the Great Australian Shark Count.

The Australian Underwater Federation, which represents divers and snorkellers, will gather data about numbers of types of sharks in a bid to protect threatened species.

At risk of extinction are the grey nurse, speartooth, freshwater saw fish, green saw fish, great white and deepwater dog fish. Scientists hope the project will help them keep track of numbers so they can be better managed and understood.

There is evidence numbers are falling dramatically due to a boom in commercial shark fishing. Fishermen can earn as much as $100 a kilogram for the fins, which are in demand on the Asian market.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Kayaker escorted to shore by Great White shark

A GREAT white shark has been menacing surfers and a kayaker at Byron Bay.
Wategos Beach was closed on Monday afternoon after the two-metre shark was spotted.
Lifeguard Stephen Leahy said the shark had circled a kayaker off Little Wategos for more than 15 minutes.

The kayaker's concern grew as it followed him slowly back towards the shore.

Noticing the shark was still close to surfers, Mr Leahy called 000 and notified police.

Byron Bay police then activated the local emergency call-out team from Byron Bay Surf Life Saving Club.

Lifeguards attending the scene immediately closed the beach, calling all swimmers and surfers out of the water.

Great White shark sighted at Morro Rock


Surfers spot another fin in the line-up at a popular north county break, just as a warning is lifted at a different beach.

On Saturday surfers spotted a great white shark a few hundred yards north of Morro Rock, at a spot called the pit.

Meanwhile, the site of last week's shark sighting in Cayucos is open again. Last week, several witnesses saw a shark off the coast near Old Creek Road circling two surfers.

SharkDiver.com came face to face with a Great White shark attack!

Adventure seekers hoping to encounter Great White sharks on a recent adventure vacation with SharkDiver.com got more than they bargained for last week when a 15 foot white shark explosively attacked a seal right in front of astonished divers.“We were in the middle of cage diving operations on the back deck of the MV Islander when all of a sudden a 6 foot geyser of black foam and red blood erupted 50 yards from our position.

I immediately deployed the shark research team from CICIMAR with video cameras and they caught a rarely seen white shark feeding event and repeated attacks on a 7 foot long resident Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris).”“The attacks lasted about 15 minutes and having witnessed a “full on” predation first hand I have a new appreciation for the whites we encounter here. After four years of personal observations with these animals it’s always good to be reminded of the power of this top ocean predator”, said Australian born Luke Tipple, dive operations manager for Shark Diver and host of upcoming television series Wild Side Encounters.

“In 6 years of operations at this unique dive site, there have only been two recorded surface shark attacks on seals, this one was nothing short of spectacular. Today we decided to release this video to the general public”, added eco-adventurer and Shark Diver CEO Patric Douglas after reviewing the video."We have research data showing these sharks actively stalking the smaller Guadalupe Fur Seals (pups and adults) early in the shark season," says Douglas.

"By November these pups are quite big and begin to play offshore, which is the equivalent of ringing the dinner bell for larger female whites who need to consume mass quantities of food to fuel up for the winter and for breeding season."Located 210 miles off the coast of Mexico, Isla Guadalupe has become the worldwide recognized dive destination for an unprecedented number of Great White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and provides exceptional opportunities for divers seeking encounters with these misunderstood denizens of the deep.

The Shark Diver crew, lead by dedicated shark specialists in conjunction with U.C Davis and CICIMAR's research teams, documented this rare attack on the surface and from below and will be studying it in depth in the coming months.There are few places in the world that feature consistent sightings andinteractions with Great White sharks as Isla Guadalupe, Mexico.About Shark DiverRecently featured on the 20th Anniversary of Shark Week, SharkDiver.com has been thrilling divers from around the world for the past 6 years with safe and exciting shark encounters.

Shark Diver has expanded to offer cage diving trips with Tiger sharks in the Bahamas, Giant Squid encounters, as well as deep-dive submarine trips to see giant deepwater 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 several years as a tour guide in Vietnam, Bali, Hong Kong, Australia/New Zealand and Latin America and served as an extreme adventure reporter for CBS in San Francisco, Ca. He went on to found the outdoor adventure club "Absolute Adventures" which continues to thrive in San Francisco to this day.

For the past several years, Douglas has dedicated his life to providing educational and interactive experiences for his clients through shark diving. In addition, Shark Diver, along with its partners recently launched the non profit Isla Guadalupe Conservation Fund and 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 attack video:www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahsvA1TpIvkwww.sharkdiver.comwww.guadalupefund.org

Surfer chased by Great White shark in Cayucos waters!

A great white shark prowling Central Coast waters reportedly chased a surfer near the Cayucos Pier where the beast was first spotted last weekend.

Lifeguards posted shark warning signs after the first sighting Sunday near the town's pier 20 miles north of San Luis Obispo. On Wednesday, beachgoers spotted a shark again, this time off the nearby Old Creek area.

“My guess is that it would be the same one that was at the Cayucos pier which is three quarters of a mile north,” said Ray Smith, supervising ranger for the coastal section from Montana de Oro to the Estero Bluffs state parks.

A surfer said he was chased by the shark at Old Creek and rangers interviewed a half-dozen beachgoers who confirmed seeing a shark in the surfline, Smith said.

State Parks guidelines call for posting of warning signs for five days.

There was a spate of shark sightings in July along Avila and Pismo beaches to the south.

In August 2003, swimmer Deborah Franzman was attacked by a great white shark off Avila Beach.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Cayucos vs. Great White shark

A great white shark could be circling in Central Coast waters.

Shark warnings have been posted along beaches in Cayucos for five days straight.
A shark was spotted Sunday at the Cayucos pier and again Wednesday near Old Creek.
State parks ranger Ray Smith says it's likely the same shark.

Surfers we talked to say they won't switch hobbies, even for a great white.

"There's like a 16 foot shark but there are sharks all year long. People see them and we surf. They're always around, they're just not interested in us," said surfer Johnee Gange.
Several shark sightings were confirmed near Avila Beach and Pismo Beach in July.
In August 2003, Nipomo resident Deborah Franzman was killed by a great white off of Avila Beach.

There's a good reason why shark warning signs routinely stay in place at least five days after a great white sighting.

Marine biologists say great whites are territorial. They stay in one location until the food supply diminishes or vanishes, then move on to new hunting grounds.

Studies show most attacks happen in the morning within two hours after sunrise because it is difficult at that time to see a shark lying in wait at the bottom.

Great white sharks prefer prey with high contents of energy rich fat-like seals.

Attacks on humans are thought to be rare, but sometimes deadly mistakes.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Great White sharks sighted near Cayucos Pier, in California

A shark sighting on the Central Coast prompts a warning: enter at your own risk.

The Cayucos Fire Department received a credible report of a possible great white shark. It was spotted off the Cayucos Pier at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

The on duty officer who recieved the report, Howard Sanford, says someone was just strolling on the pier enjoying a sunny day when they looked over the railing and saw what's described as a sixteen foot great white shark.

To prevent an unnecessary panic in the water, the Sanford asked the witness to complete a check list.

Sanford described some of the questions he asked:

"Size, the type of dorsal fin, if its triangular in shape, the type of tail fin the motions they see the shark making."

This sighting checked out and was deemed credible.

One local fisherman sounded surpised to hear the news: "Seals have been out there otters, I haven't seen any sharks."

While he has no fish tale to tell, fishermen know where there's prey there are bound to be predators.

"There seems to be fish, my grandson caught three right in a row which is a little rare these days."
According to our records, the last reported shark sighting was in Cambria waters back in July.
Two Great Whites were spotted in the area less than a week apart.

Beach reopens despite presence of sharks

Nearly a month after Marina State Beach was reopened to surfers following a shark attack, beach-goers and researchers are still being warned that they enter the waters of Monterey Bay at their own risk.

Experts say they are not certain if there are any more sharks in the water now than in previous years. And researchers who dive in the bay to conduct their studies say they are undaunted after surfer Todd Endris was injured by a great white shark in August off the Marina beach.

At Stanford's Hopkins Marine Center in Pacific Grove, director George Somero said that crossing the street in front of their station poses a greater danger than the sharks. Hopkins' diving operations are unaffected, at least for now, because they have no research divers in the water at this time of year, he said.

Still, Hopkins' diving safety officer did notify each diver on their list after the incident.

"Shark activity is treated like the weather," said Steve Clabuesch, the acting diving safety officer at the University of California-Santa Cruz. He said divers from the university marine laboratory are warned of the potential dangers and avoid sampling sites with high numbers of shark sightings, just as they would steer clear of thunderstorms.

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, safety protocols have also been reinforced in the last month. Now divers tend to spend less time doing surface swims and communicate better with one another. In addition, the aquarium suspended its outside diving
operations for a week after the incident.
"The shark attack was part of a number of other things that kind of led us to the decision to restrict diving," said Gil Falcone, the aquarium's senior dive officer.

In the days prior to the shark attack in Marina, spear fishermen drove off a shark in the waters near Pacific Grove by rapping it on the nose.

Despite the recent frequency of such sightings, Falcone doesn't know if there are more sharks in the water than in previous years.

Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, said he has not observed a notable increase in shark activity since he began his research more than 15 years ago. He called the recent awareness of sharks "an echo effect" of the August attack.

Van Sommeran said that more sharks are seen and reported when beaches are crowded.
The increase in shark sightings has not scared away beach-goers, according to state Parks Department spokesman Randy Bevis.

In fact, the notoriety of the shark attack has possibly increased the numbers of visitors to Marina State Beach, he said.

Surfer had close encounter with Great White Shark

Sue Snyder is lucky to be alive after a shark tried to attack her near a Humboldt County beach… her board wasn’t so lucky.

Sue was sitting on her surfboard yesterday when a great white knocked her off from behind.
She began kicking the shark — which left a 16-inch bite on her board. The shark also left some teeth fragments behind.

Researchers say the shark was likely 14 to 15 feet long and weighed about 3,000 pounds.