Sunday, July 27, 2008

Shark Week is BACK!

For the last 21 years, Discovery channel is presenting the famous and exciting Shark Week! What is Shark Week? This is a week long series of shows and documentaries focusing on sharks. During the week of July 27 up to August 2, 2008, you will be able to view a variety of shows about sharks, their myths, the touching stories of shark attack survivors and so much more.

If you are a shark lover, just like me, you will LOVE all that Shark Week has to offer you! This is a feast for the senses and the brain as facts and myths will offer you a combo to die for! Put it down on your calendar, visit their website and select the shows and documentaries that tickle your interest but beware of the impressive variety as you need more than one VCR to record all the shows that you will crave to watch. Seriously...DON'T MISS "SHARK WEEK" on DISCOVERY CHANNEL. It's a MUST!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Great White shark sighted at Martha's Vineyard

Whether vacationers just went home for dinner or were afraid of sharks, no one was around this afternoon at Tashmoo Beach on the north side of Martha's Vineyard.

State officials said a beach on the idyllic island of Martha’s Vineyard’s was closed today after possible sightings of a great white shark.

A great whiteLifeguards at South Beach reported seeing what they believed to be the two-foot-high dorsal fin of a shark at about 9:30 a.m., said Edgartown Police Chief Paul Condlin. Police later received reports of another sighting at State Beach.

Lisa Capone, a spokeswoman for the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said a pilot was dispatched this afternoon to scan the waters off Edgartown. No shark was spotted, she said.

Still, officials took precautions. The Department of Conservation and Recreation closed the state-owned South Beach because of concern about the reports, said DCR spokeswoman Wendy Fox.
A great white shark sighting is rare, but not unheard of in Massachusetts waters, said Greg Skomal, the state’s shark specialist with the Division of Marine Fisheries. He said the species has a range that stretches from from the Gulf of Mexico into Canadian waters.

State officials last summer
blamed the death of two seals on great whites in the waters off of Cape Cod. In 2004, a great white was stranded in a sand trap off the Martha’s Vineyard coast for two weeks. The last believed great white attack on a person in New England was in 1936.

Great White shark sighted in Australian lake!

A LARGE great white shark has been sighted in a lake on the New South Wales Central Coast, prompting warnings for people to take caution in surrounding waterways.

A commercial fisherman snagged the beast this morning while casting nets off Canton Beach, on the north side of Tuggerah Lake, which opens into the Pacific Ocean at The Entrance.

A police statement said the man was forced to release his nets when the full-grown white shark, estimated to be up to seven metres long, became entangled in them.

NSW Police are working with Wyong Council, Surf Life Saving Australia, coastal patrols and the NSW Fisheries Department to monitor the area.

Police said people should take caution when using the interconnected waterways of Tuggerah Lake, Budgewoi Lake, Lake Munmorah and the Entrance Channel.

No one was injured during today's incident.

Outrigger and marathoneer faces fears following October shark attack!

The Gold Coast Bulletin recently reported on the success of the Southport Yacht Club open women's outrigger crew, which won the 42km marathon at the Hamilton Island Cup regatta.
But a rather chilling tale has surfaced involving one of the crew, Linda Whitehurst.

Bulletin readers may recall Linda survived a shark attack while riding her surf ski off Byron Bay last October.

Linda was knocked off her ski and then fought off the 2.7m great white, receiving a nasty bite laceration to the wrist.

However, not only does she continue to compete in outriggers, she also made the Hamilton marathon a goal.

But the unnerving thing for her about the Hamilton race is paddlers swap during the event, so on five occasions she was in open water either climbing in or out of the craft.

It gets worse.

Linda was in a support boat preparing to jump in to the water for the first changeover when an alert came over the radio warning competitors a tiger shark was feeding on a turtle near where the first change was to take place.

"I guess I went a bit pale. All the girls turned and looked at me," she recalled.

However, Linda soldiered on the first change was postponed for about 1m and she was actually in the craft when the team crossed the line first.

Linda, a fit 52-year-old, said although the fear of a shark attack remained at the back of her mind, the competitive juices took over.

Diver escaped Great White shark attack by seconds!

In a blink of an eye a great white shark shot across 50 feet of water toward Stanley Aranita, giving the experienced diver only seconds to ditch his speargun and jump into his kayak to safety.
The 50-year-old Aranita, who has 12 years of diving experience, had just begun his blue-water dive routine yesterday morning off Yokohama Bay on the Leeward Coast when he first spotted the creature about 100 feet away.

It was big, he said, longer than his 14-foot kayak and between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds.
"I seen 500-pound marlins and this was bigger," Aranita said. "I remember its eyes and it looked like it was full or pregnant."

The great white — a species rarely seen in Hawai'i — was apparently zeroing in on his chum line that he had been scattering to attract ono.

Aranita said it's doubtful that he would be telling this tale if he hadn't taken the time to scan the water all around him in preparation for his dive. He said he was saved by extreme precaution in the water and quick reflexes.

"He would have taken out my leg at least, if I hadn't seen it," Aranita said.

Water conditions were murky yesterday because of the south swell, he said, but the season was right for ono and mahimahi and he was hoping to get a head start before the weekend divers came through.

Aranita, of Wahiawa, said he had heard a big splash when he arrived at his dive spot about 2,000 feet offshore and thought someone had jumped into the water. But when he looked around there was nothing there.

Upon reflection, he said, it might have been the shark killing a big turtle.

He jumped into the ocean and chummed the water for about 15 minutes by crushing akule with his hand. Aranita said he was next to his kayak and drifting with the current, his speargun ready for action. The speargun held an akule just in case an ono came by. Ono like akule, so he would toss the fish out and wait for the ono to take it.

He said the shark was probably attracted to the chum and seemed to follow the bloody guts right to where he was in the water.

As always, he said, he scanned the water 360 degrees to keep watch for fish and predators. Because of the murky conditions Aranita said he didn't see the shark until it was 100 feet away.
Seconds later the animal had closed the gap, making him realize that it was moving at high speed. Even the normal weaving motion that sharks are known for wasn't detectable, Aranita said.

By the time the shark was about 60 feet away he decided to toss the gun with the akule attached and jump in the kayak, he said. In less than two seconds the shark was below him.

"The thing didn't rock back and forth coming toward me," he said. "No rocking, just shooting like a giant one-man sub."

Once in the kayak, he said he threw out anything that might have had the scent of fish on it, including his akule bag and gloves, hoping the great white would go after them.

But before heading to the beach he collected the gear and, "digging out," paddled to shore.
whites rare here.

The sighting hasn't been confirmed by anyone else, and Aranita was diving alone.

Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for the city Emergency Services Department, said lifeguards did not see the shark.

Great white sharks are rare in Hawai'i, according to Alan Everson, biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service. Some have been tracked by satellite from California, Everson said. A couple years ago one was caught on video during a shark tour off Hale'iwa, he said.

William Aila, harbormaster at Wai'anae Boat Harbor, said great white shark teeth can be found in ancient Hawaiian weapons, so he's not surprised to hear about a sighting.

Aila said he's hearing more and more stories of shark sightings as more people are getting out into the ocean and fishing.

"It's not a function of more sharks being out there," he said. "It's a function of more people being out there."

'not much time'

Aranita said he saw the shark from the front and it was impossible to see its tail or dorsal fins, a clear indication of its girth.

He said the shark sighting wasn't a heart-pounding experience because he has seen other sharks, including big tiger sharks.

But this was his first great white, he said, adding that another blue-water diver had reported seeing a great white in the area but he didn't believe the report.

Although he didn't have a camera and couldn't get a picture of the animal, he said he is positive it was a great white shark. He said he was impressed with the animal's speed.

"Now I see why people get eaten alive," Aranita said. "The thing is pretty fast. There's not much time."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Shark attack survivor tells all!

Silver fog blanketed California's Monterey Bay on a late August morning last year. For Todd Endris, it was a perfect end-of-summer day for surfing. The lanky 24-year-old aquarium technician zipped into his wet suit and headed to Marina State Beach, two miles from his apartment.

As he waded into the surf, a pod of dolphins played in the waves just ahead of him. Other than a few dedicated surfers, the dolphins were the only creatures visible in the bay. Endris paddled strenuously and caught a wave in, then headed out to find another. Resting on his board 75 yards from shore, he turned to watch his friend Brian Simpson glide under the curve of a near-perfect wave. Suddenly Endris was hit from below and catapulted 15 feet in the air. Landing headfirst in the water, he felt his pulse quicken.

He knew only one thing could slam him with such force. Frantically paddling to the surface, he yanked at the surfboard, attached to his ankle by a leash, climbed on, and pointed it toward shore. But within seconds he was hit again. An enormous great white shark had him in its jaws, its teeth dug into his back.

The vast aquatic wilderness known as the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary stretches from Marin County, north of San Francisco, to the rugged Cambria coastline south of Big Sur, encompassing 5,322 square miles of ocean. One of the most diverse protected ecosystems in the world, it includes the Red Triangle, an area that earned its ghoulish nickname for its history of shark attacks, particularly in the period from late August through November, when great whites come to feed on young seals and sea lions.

Almost every surfer who visits California's wild coastline has heard the horror stories: In 1981 a surfer was found just before Christmas south of Monterey, his body bearing bite marks from a great white; in 2004 an abalone diver was killed by a great white near Fort Bragg; and in 2006 a 43-year-old surfer was dragged underwater by a great white off a beach in Marin County -- and escaped without serious injury when the shark spit him out.

Just last April, a 66-year-old man died after being attacked by a great white while swimming far south of the Red Triangle, in waters north of San Diego. "It's always in the back of your mind -- you know they're out there," says Endris. Shark-human encounters make headlines, but they're rare; fewer than 50 people were attacked in the Red Triangle between 1959 and 2007.

Humans may be mistaken for prey, but some experts say that great whites just don't care much what they eat. "Anybody who surfs or dives where seals and sea lions are prevalent could be asking for trouble," says George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Florida, a group that tracks shark incidents worldwide. "You wouldn't walk through a herd of antelope on the Serengeti, knowing you could be attacked by a lion." Despite the warnings, Endris routinely surfed in such waters.

From the time he was a toddler in San Jose, he'd looked forward to weekend excursions to the beach with his parents and older sister, Julie. As soon as he was big enough to straddle a board, he took up surfing. More than once over the years, he'd been called out of the water when someone thought they'd seen a shark. "But it wasn't something I dwelled on," Endris says. "As a surfer, if you did that, you'd never go into the ocean." In Monterey Bay that August morning, the great white dragged Endris below the surface. Attempting to force the shark to release him, the surfer slugged it on the snout over and over. "It was like punching a Chevy Suburban covered with sandpaper," he says. "I was getting nowhere."

The 16-foot shark had clamped down on his back with three rows of razor-sharp teeth. Endris felt no pain, only a tremendous pressure as the shark dipped him beneath the roiling water and shook him back and forth in its powerful jaws. A few feet away, Joe Jansen, a 25-year-old college student from Marina, was relaxing on his board when he heard a loud splash. Glancing over his shoulder, he spotted a gray creature rising 12 feet out of the water with Endris and a blue surfboard in its mouth.

At first, Jansen thought the creature was a whale, "the biggest thing I'd ever seen." Then he heard Endris scream. "My immediate thought was to get the hell out of there," he says. He paddled as fast as he could toward shore, looking back every few seconds. When he made eye contact with Endris, he paused. "Help me!" yelled Endris, disappearing beneath the water again. The shark now had the surfer by the right thigh and appeared to be trying to swallow his leg whole. Another 20 feet beyond the chaos, Wes Williams, a 33-year-old Cambria bar owner, stared from his surfboard in disbelief.

Six bottlenose dolphins were leaping in and out of the water, stirring up whitecaps. When Williams saw Endris surface, he believed the dolphins were attacking him. "He was shouting like he was being electrocuted," he says. "I thought, What did this guy do to piss off the dolphins?" Williams watched as the dolphin pod circled Endris, slapping their flukes in agitation. It was then that he saw the bright red ring of Endris's blood staining the water. With a burst of adrenaline, Endris thrust his head above the surface, gasping for air.

The great white still had a hold on his upper thigh. "I figured my leg was gone," Endris says, "but I couldn't think about that right then." He used all his strength to kick the shark repeatedly in the face with his free leg. The great white shot out of the water, thrashing Endris like a wet towel. The surfer swung his fists, hoping he'd get lucky and hit an eye. "Let me go!" he shouted. "Get outta here! Somebody, help me!" He barely noticed the dolphins leaping over his head. Suddenly the shark released him.

Fighting to stay afloat, Endris thought he saw the dolphins form a protective wall between him and the great white. Joe Jansen had paddled only 15 feet toward shore in his panic when he decided he couldn't live with himself if he didn't go back. He entered the pool of bloody water, half expecting to be attacked. "Quick! Get on your board!" he shouted to Endris. "C'mon, pal -- it's behind you. Let's go!" Less than a minute had passed since the shark had taken its first bite. Endris pulled his board close and crawled onto it.

His skin was shredded to the bone. Jansen was horrified but stayed calm. "You can do it," he said. "There's a small swell coming. Let's take it in." Williams had also swum back to help; as soon as they reached the beach, they were joined by Simpson, who had been in shallow water when he saw his friend attacked. The three lifted Endris under his armpits and dragged him onto dry sand.

"That's when the pain hit," recalls Endris. He cried out as the men positioned him facedown on a slope so that more blood would flow to his heart and head. While Endris's blood spurted from the gashes in his wet suit, somebody dialed 911. Simpson tried to reassure his friend. "It's okay, buddy. You're going to make it," he said, though he feared Endris wouldn't last until the paramedics got there. "I thought, Who's going to call this guy's parents and tell them he's dead?"

As it happened, Simpson, an X-ray tech at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, had witnessed his share of trauma cases. Working quickly, he wound a six-foot surfboard leash tightly around Endris's leg to help slow the bleeding. There wasn't much he could do for the 40-inch gash on his friend's back. A flap of skin was hanging from his body, exposing his spine and internal organs. When Endris craned his neck to see his injuries, Simpson and the others shielded his eyes. "His entire back was filleted," says Jansen. "It was hard to look at. We just kept saying, 'Take deep breaths. It's not that bad. Hang on.'

" Endris, raised Catholic but an infrequent churchgoer, closed his eyes and said a silent prayer over and over: Lord, I need you, now. It took ten minutes for a beach patrol crew, traversing the steep dunes in a four-wheel-drive pickup, to transport Endris to an ambulance. He was helicoptered to a trauma center in Santa Clara, where surgeons spent six hours putting him back together. "He looked like an emery board," says Maria Allo, MD, who oversaw Endris's care. "We used a couple of gallons of saline to get the sand off his muscles and skin." The shark's teeth had nearly punctured one of Endris's lungs and had missed his aorta by two millimeters. He had lost half of his blood and required more than 500 stitches and 200 staples to close the deep gashes. "His muscles were completely severed," says Dr. Allo. "It was hard to tell what belonged to what. It was tedious work, like doing a jigsaw puzzle." During his six days in the hospital, Endris, often in a painkiller-induced fog, thought about the ocean.

When he was 12, his parents --Michael, owner of a company that distributes microprocessors, and Kathi, a labor and delivery nurse -- had signed him up for lessons at Davey Smith's Surf Academy in Santa Barbara. By age 16, he was an expert, teaching surf camp kids what he knew. After high school, Endris, wanting to be close to the water, enrolled at California State University, Monterey Bay. He launched a business taking care of large saltwater aquariums owned by wealthy clients after he graduated. He enjoyed keeping his own hours -- leaving time for daily surf runs and for hanging out with friends on weekends.

Endris lived for the adrenaline rush that came with outracing a roaring wave, the cold salty spray stinging his face as he barreled underneath the curving white water. "You're in perfect sync with an actual moving force of nature," he says. "There's no other feeling that even comes close." Endris replayed the attack in his mind as he recuperated; he wondered if he'd ever surf again. After his release from the hospital, he retreated to his parents' San Jose home so his mother, who retired from nursing in 2001, could care for him.

"As a nurse, I've seen a lot," she says, "but never anything close to this." She changed his bedding, helped clean his wounds, and managed his medication. "But mostly I was there for emotional support," she says. "I just loved him."

Once Endris was back in his Marina apartment, he began having a recurring nightmare: the great white shark plowing through the water, about to knock him off his board. At the moment of impact, he would wake in a sweat. "I would have this feeling of dread and panic in my chest, and there's nobody to talk to," he says.

"Who can relate? It's not like there are shark attack victims around every corner." Endris took to focusing on the positive from that August day. "A lot of things came together to pull me through," he says. "The guys who rushed to help, the dolphins -- they all saved my life." He had heard about a common practice in Taiji, Japan, where dolphins are herded into small coves and slaughtered to be sold at fish markets. Hoping to do his part to protect them, he joined several organizations dedicated to their preservation. "I tell my story now to anybody who will listen because I want people to know how truly remarkable dolphins are," he says. "They're as smart as humans, and I believe they're capable of empathy. When I was being attacked that day, maybe they were trying to protect their young or acting on instinct. But they drove the shark away. If they hadn't, there's no doubt in my mind it would have come back." Endris also signed up to head an advisory committee in Monterey for the International Shark Attack Research Fund, a group of wildlife veterinarians and marine biologists who have teamed up to design an attack-prevention system. (A portable device that uses electrical pulses to repel sharks was developed in 2002 by an Australian company, but it's not cheap, costing about $650.)

"Our idea is to create a compact, affordable system that will protect me and my friends," says Endris, "without harming the sharks. They've been on earth millions of years -- a whole lot longer than we have." Six weeks after the attack, Endris stood at a mirror and checked out his scars. One snaked its way across his back and the other up and down his right leg. Even before he got a close look, he knew that he would return to the water.

"I had to get on with it," he says. "I love the ocean too much." That day, he climbed into his Toyota Tacoma and drove to Marina State Beach to try out a new surfboard. Though Joe Jansen now avoids the area, a handful of other surfers met Endris there. The water was murky with algae, but rays of October sun poked through the clouds as Endris paddled his board out to the same spot where the shark had slammed into him. He scanned the surface of the bay until he spotted a huge swell building behind him, curling with white foam. It was an ideal wave, smooth and cylindrical. Jumping to his feet, Endris caught his balance and soared into the glassy tube.

Was it a Great White shark or not?

A woman kayaking near Catalina had quite a scare when she was dumped out of her boat by a shark. At first, Bettina Pereira thought she saw a whale swim under her, but by the time she realized it wasn't a whale, it had lifted the kayak out of the water and dumped her out.

Pereira is unhurt. Two men in a boat pulled up and helped her to shore, where her anxious husband and son were waiting. No word yet on what kind of shark it might have been. There have been reports of several Great White attacks up and down the coast, from Mexico to San Diego, in the past couple of months.

In the San Diego attack, a swimmer was killed.