Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Couple encountered Great White shark believed responsible for snorkeller's death!

A British couple had what they described as a "Jaws" encounter with a great white shark yesterday when it nudged their dinghy as they fished in the same spot where an Australian man was attacked last Saturday.

Paul Vickery, originally from Somerset, said the 5-metre (16ft) shark "appeared from nowhere" while they were fishing at a Perth beach off Australia's west coast.

"It was huge. I've never seen anything so big," said Vickery. "You could see its whole body and it was bigger than our little boat."

The 46-year-old said he and his wife, Lesley, "froze with fright" as the shark lifted its head out of the water centimetres from their boat.

"It was just like [the movie] Jaws except he had his mouth closed. It actually touched the boat. If the shark had wanted to he could have headbutted us and tipped us over but luckily he didn't," said Vickery.

The incident occurred about 500 metres north of the spot where Brian Guest, 51, was believed to have been snatched by a shark on Saturday morning. Guest vanished while snorkelling for crabs with his son. Witnesses reported seeing a fin and splashing in the water before the sea turned red.
Guest's shredded wetsuit was recovered but a four-day air and sea search has failed to find his body.

In yesterday's encounter, the Vickerys had gone fishing and crabbing off Port Kennedy Beach, south of Perth.

Vickery said they usually snorkelled for crabs but yesterday chose to take out their 4-metre aluminium dinghy because his wife was nervous after the recent shark attack. "The wife didn't want to go out because of what happened to that poor man but I talked her into it," he said.

Lesley Vickery, who was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, before emigrating to Australia, said the shark bobbed up "right beside our boat" as they tended to the crab nets.

"It just appeared like a submarine would come up. We never heard or saw anything," she said. "I was petrified. It was too close for comfort. We only have a little dinghy and it was a lot bigger than it."

Her husband said "the boat lurched" when the shark touched the dinghy.

"It nudged the boat. He just came up to have a very close look and as he rolled over I heard a slap and he disappeared. It all happened so quickly."

The couple, who were about 50 metres from shore, quickly pulled up anchor. "I just turned to my husband and said: 'Get us out of here now'. I was petrified. It was frightening but over in a matter of seconds."

A fisheries department boat, which had been searching for Guest's body, came to the couple's rescue and escorted them to shore.

Swimmers were evacuated from the water and two beaches along the coastline have been closed indefinitely.

Fisheries officers spotted the shark feeding in the shallows a short time later but lost sight of it when it moved into deeper water.

A fisheries spokesman, Tony Cappelluti, said it was impossible to tell if it was the same shark that killed Guest.

Guest's family requested last weekend that authorities did not kill the shark.

Paul Vickery said he believed the shark was attracted yesterday to the smell of the burly – a mixture of fish oil and wheat product – which they had put in the water to attract fish.

"We had burlied up and had the crab nets down in the water when he came up and had a look at us."

He said the outcome could have been different if they had been snorkelling. "We swim there all the time and it's normally a really safe area. I don't want to think what could have happened."

While he is keen to go back fishing, he said his wife wouldn't be venturing out for a while.

Asked whether he thought they were lucky to escape unharmed, he said: "For sure. I'm going to buy a lottery ticket."

Paul Andrew, of Surf Lifesaving Western Australia, said people should swim at patrolled beaches where lifesavers regularly looked for sharks.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Was it a Great White shark attack?

A father of three was swimming just six metres from his son when he disappeared in bloody, churning waters after what is believed to have been a fatal shark attack.

The attack happened at Port Kennedy, near Rockingham, about 30 kilometres south of Perth, about 7.15am West Australian time.

Police and rescue crews, including helicopters, were this afternoon searching for the missing man, 51, who had been snorkelling for crabs when the shark closed in. His 24-year-old son did not see the attack.

The missing man has been identified as Brian Guest. It is believed he lived in an estate near the beach.

Friend Steve Kent said the family was in shock as they tried to support each other through the tragedy.

"It's a shock loss for the family. He was a loving father and husband who appears to have been taken by a shark," Mr Kent said.

"At the time he didn't sight what happened. People on the beach saw and heard things in the water."

The missing man has been described as an avid fisherman who loved the water and had great respect for its marine life.

The beach remains closed as police, surf lifesavers and council workers search the area using quad bikes, four-wheel drives and boats.

Police have asked the public to avoid the area until further notice.

Police spokesman Mark Valentine said witnesses had reported seeing "something pretty violent" happening in the water, which turned red.

"Something very traumatic has happened there and we are treating it as a probable shark attack," Mr Valentine told AAP.

"There was lots of talk among witnesses at the incident location about seeing fins in the water but we can't yet say whether there was definitely a shark out there."

The beach is a popular swimming location and there were many people out because of warm weather, Mr Valentine said.

Channel 9 reported a four-metre white pointer was spotted in the area yesterday.

Kayakers saved by fishermen from a Great White shark!

A great white shark has menaced a group of kayakers off Sydney's northern beaches until some quick-thinking fishermen in a tinnie went to their rescue.

The fishermen at first made light of the danger when they spotted the five-metre shark off Long Reef, the Seven Network reported on Saturday.

The fishermen can be heard shouting "great white" and "how's your undies boys" on a tape of the incident before they realise that one of the three kayakers was in the water and raced to his aid.
Kayaker Steve Kulscar was in the water for about a minute.

With the massive shark slowly circling, the other two kayakers lashed their craft to the tinnie and sat out the drama that lasted about 10 minutes.

At one stage the men can be heard saying "look at the size of it, it's bigger than the boat" as the shark edged ever closer until eventually it swam off.

"I want to get his address and send him a case of beer, that's the least I could do," Mr Kulscar told Seven.

"I really should sign the mortgage over."

Another of the kayakers, Justin Stanger, said: "I'm thinking, 'I hope I don't look like a seal or a turtle.
"I'm hoping it's not that hungry."

Meanwhile, the search is continuing for a man feared taken by a shark off the West Australian coast.

Brian Guest, 51, was snorkelling for crabs with his son off their local beach near Rockingham, south of Perth, when he suddenly disappeared from view shortly after 7am (WDT) on Saturday.
His 24-year-old son swam to shore and raised the alarm.

Witnesses told police they saw flashes of fins in the area and the water was coloured by blood.

Is the Great White shark as rare as publicized?

The white shark, the famed Carcharodon Carcharias or Great White, is well-known for its migratory habits of roaming cold-water oceans in areas such as South Africa and - in the United States - off the coast of New England and California.

For a fearsome white shark to be encountered or documented off the more temperate Southeast Coast, specifically the South Carolina coast, is exceptionally rare. Or is it?

A few incidents in 2008 raise speculation - just how rare is this species off the Palmetto State's coast?

Morris Island Stranding: The most publicized white shark incident of the year came in November when a dead 13-foot, 2-inch long specimen washed up on Morris Island, just south of the jetties of Charleston.

The female was spotted on the beach and subsequently found by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources biologists on Nov. 18 on the uninhabited island, not far from the Morris Island Lighthouse.

The shark showed no signs of trauma from a fishing encounter or being hit by a boat or propeller. But, interestingly enough, scales from large red drum were found in its digestive tract during a necropsy.

Charles H. Farmer, III, retired from the DNR after 37 years, served many years as a marine biologist specializing in sharks off the S.C. coast. Farmer, now a legislative council and lobbyist for Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina, is the author of "Sharks of South Carolina."
"Just from what I was able to find out it probably died from some sort of disease," Farmer said earlier this week. "This one was likely feeding on big red drum, the big ones, the 10-30 pound red drum, in the coastal waters 4 to 10 miles offshore. That's where these big red drum congregate particularly in the fall of the year."

Smaller, mostly juvenile red drum, known locally as spottails, are also found in S.C. estuaries, but Farmer doubts this Great White entered estuary waters to feed on them.

Farmer did note that "years ago he documented an 8-foot Great White that had become entangled in a gill net at the end of the jetties at Charleston, not far from the spot where this specimen was found in November.

Great White Tagged: Tim Handsel, Director of Husbandry at Myrtle Beach's Ripley's Aquarium, and a crew were aboard a 25-foot research boat long-lining for sharks on May 3. The aquarium has a federal permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service's Highly Migratory Species Management Division and a state Scientific Activities Permit from the DNR to long-line.

While fishing 5½ miles off Garden City Beach in 34 feet of water with a surface water temperature of 69.5 degrees, the crew checked the 70-75 hooks (baited with chunks of mackerel) on the short long-line. They were surprised to find a nearly 10-foot female white shark.

"On that particular day there was a large slick in the area of the long-line and from what we could determine it was oil from a decaying animal," recalled Handsel earlier this week. "There probably was a carcass on the bottom the shark was feeding on that was the reason it was in the area. [The decaying animal] was within 200-300 yards of where the line had been set. That's when we caught the Great White."

Handsel and crew observed the shark, took measurements and photos, implanted a NMFS Apex Predator CSTP capsule tag into it and released it in very good shape.

"We were pretty certain [it was a Great White] and we talked to a number of authorities across the country to confirm our identification," Handsel said. "It weighed 400 to 500 pounds and that's a guess - we never lifted her out of the water. We've been doing this for several years and this is the first one we've seen."

Vermilion Wreck: This spring, in mid-April, a four-man crew, including Marlin Quay Marina owner Charles Stone, his two grandsons - Taylor and Austin Stone - and Lee Elkins ventured from Murrells Inlet to fish on the Vermilion wreck, located 27 miles east-southeast of the Winyah Bay jetties in 105 feet of water.

Taylor Stone described what they saw while drifting bait near the 460-foot wreck.

"We [saw] a school of amberjack under the boat and we saw what [we thought] was a big tiger shark," said Taylor Stone. "The water was crystal clear that day and it kept circling and got closer to the boat.

"When it came by the last time it was probably 6 to 7 feet under the water. Lee said 'Is that what I think it is?' I said 'It looks like a Great White.'"

Elkins grabbed a camera and snapped a photo of the shark as it eased past the boat.

"It was a huge animal," Charles Stone said. "I've been fishing out of here for 30 years and that's the first one I ever saw. I absolutely thought it was a Great White."

Taylor Stone was in awe of the size of the shark, especially considering they were fishing in a 27-foot center console Sea Pro.

"That shark was well over three-quarters of the length of the boat," said Taylor Stone. "It was every bit of 18 feet long. And that's conservative."

In all, that makes two definite Great White occurrences in South Carolina waters and one more possible encounter from April to November. Are these top-of-the line, apex predators more common here than many think? Farmer gave his thoughts on the subject.

"When I look back at the three or four animals I looked at and reports that [the DNR received] over the last 35 years, we're probably in the southernmost part of that species range," Farmer said. "In South Carolina you find generally very, very few numbers. We're on the fringe of seeing these animals and that's why you occasionally get reports like that."

Dr. Jose Castro is a scientist with the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a senior biologist with the Shark Research Department of Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., and gave his thoughts on the migratory habits of the species.

"They migrate all along the coast and they are in South Carolina waters going [north] in the month of May," Castro said. "They move up north until they get above New York and they go all the way to Newfoundland. That's part of their natural habitat and range."

Farmer notes that the white shark is one of 22 species of sharks that are protected - no possession or harassment of the species allowed - in South Carolina and federal waters.
"They're slow-growing, they're very late to mature and [reach] 12-13 feet before they reproduce," Farmer said. "They only give birth to about 3 to 4 young every year or every other year.
"Its numbers are so depressed the species is really threatened. They're in danger and without conservation measures they'd eventually be wiped out."

Contact GREGG HOLSHOUSER at 843-651-9028 or at

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Is your fear of sharks based on facts or fiction?

Shark attacks are the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. Steven Spielberg's Jaws has a lot to answer for.

It's probably the thought of something menacing watching us from below - razor sharp teeth bared and soulless eyes masking an insatiable hunger for flesh. If Spielberg is to be believed, from the moment we set foot in the water, our life span can be measured in moments.

Yet history shows us the
chances of being attacked are extremely unlikely - you are far more likely to drown or be killed in a car smash on your way to the beach.

Each year, over summer, reports of
shark sightings dominate the news and old fears are raised anew.

This year is bound to be the same. As the weather heats up, Kiwis flock to the beaches in their thousands and, with more eyes at the beach, shark sightings are inevitable.

Already a half-tonne mako has been caught off Nelson and a 2.4 metre thresher shark scared swimmers out of the water in the Bay of Plenty. Kite surfers on their way across the Cook Strait also recently reported surfing past a two-metre shark.

Few creatures capture the imagination or instil such a sense of fear as the shark, but scientists believe that fear is unreasonable.

New Zealand has around
66 different sharks species and very few of them are dangerous to humans.

NIWA shark expert Malcolm Francis tries to put the threat of an attack into context:

"Humans are a top predator ourselves and we don't like the idea that there is another predator out there that is bigger and stronger than we are and might eat us.

"But, having said, that there's a lot more people killed every year by tigers, lions, hippos round the world than there are by sharks and yet we seem to have this real fear of sharks and what they might do to us."

He points to the fact millions of people are in the water over summer, surrounded by sharks, yet the attack rate is incredibly low.

According to the Conservation Department, there have been 13 fatal shark attacks recorded in New Zealand in the last 170 years - the last was 32 years ago when a spear fisherman was attacked at Te Kaha in the Bay of Plenty.

"That just indicates to me that they're not really considering us as food at all," he said.

Francis says that, if sharks wanted to eat us, we would never be able to go in the water.

"They are out there in numbers and they are all around the coast ... it's extremely likely that when we have been in the water, there has been a shark there that's ignored us."

Francis likens shark attacks to plane crashes: "When they happen they're horrifying and particularly nasty but
the chances of them happening is extremely low," he said.

A diver for over 30 years himself, Francis says he has only ever seen three sharks while in the water - none of them dangerous.

Scientists have identified most attacks happen during daylight on adult males aged between 18 and 30 - the group that happens to spend the most time in the water and the time-of-day they tend to be there.

The only places Francis says to avoid swimming are near seal colonies, and dead animals. Spear fisherman should also get speared fish out of the water straight away, or at least keep them as far away from their bodies as possible.

People should also try to swim in groups and not too far from shore, to ensure help is at hand should they be bitten.

Most attack fatalities are the result of blood loss from a bite, rather than the shark eating its victim, he says. They will attack, bite their victim, and back away for up to 15 minutes - a defence mechanism he says they have built up to protect themselves from the teeth of seals, their main source of food.

This often allowed the victims' companions time to get them out of the water and do first aid.


Though more eyes at the beach inevitably mean more sightings, Francis says it's true there are more sharks around over summer.

Populations in coastal areas increase as sharks come in to breed and feed, though most will be small and harmless.

The chances of bumping into a big, dangerous shark are remote - but if you see one, it pays to get out of the water, Francis says.

It appears a lot of the fear and misinformation about sharks comes from a startling lack of scientific information.

The shark which the general public know most about - the great white - scientists actually know very little about.

New Zealand is recognised as one of the world's hot spots for the apex predator, along with the waters off California, in the United States, and South Africa, Australia and Japan.

However, Francis says that, despite their fearsome reputation, great whites are extremely cautious. When Francis and his team tried to attract sharks with blood and bait in the water, some would circle the boat for hours, deciding whether or not to take the bait.

This suggests they are curious but selective when choosing their prey, he says.

NIWA, the Conservation Department and Dr Ramon Bonfil from Shark Tracker/NABU in Germany, have been tagging great whites with satellite tags since 2005.

Though the data is still sparse, the research has yielded some surprising results and Francis believes they are making progress.

After analysing the data from 10 tags, scientists were surprised to find great whites were leaving New Zealand and heading from the Chatham Islands to Tonga - a journey of over 3000km.

Scientists can only guess why the sharks undertake this epic journey, but believe it must be to chase food - probably humpback whales.

What science has told us is that shark numbers are drastically low. Nineteen of the world's shark species are listed as vulnerable, 17 endangered, and four critically endangered, according to the 2000 World Conservation Union Red List.

Four New Zealand sharks - including the basking, spiny dogfish, whale and great white - were listed as vulnerable.

Humans kill more than 100 million sharks worldwide each year, in recreational and commercial fishing.

Though Great Whites have been protected in New Zealand since 2007, many are still caught in nets and on long lines by commercial fisherman.

There is no penalty for accidentally catching sharks, but fishermen must report it to the conservation department within 24 hours.


Knowledge is essential in order to ensure their survival. Francis believes that, if we can identify when and where sharks are, we can design management measures to reduce shark by-catch in fisheries.

"[Sharks] don't really have the reproductive capacity to bounce back very quickly so unless we take the pressure right off, it's going to be hard for the populations to increase back up to normal."
Scientists believe the shark population is going down, but don't know the rate of decline.

One thing is certain: sharks across the globe are in danger of being wiped out. There are already vast areas of the ocean where sharks have been fished out, Francis says.

Francis believes people have a moral imperative to protect sharks. But only further research and policy change will save them.

Here are a few shark species!

There are about 66 species of shark in New Zealand waters and only a few are considered dangerous.

They include:

Great white:

The best known and most feared shark is also the one responsible for the highest number of attacks worldwide and in New Zealand. Great whites breed around northern New Zealand, and move south into colder waters around seal colonies as they mature. Great whites grow as long as six metres and over 2000kg.

Short-fin mako:

The world's fastest shark, makos have been clocked at around 50km/h. They are prized by big-game fisherman for their fight when hooked. Mako sharks grow to around two metres long and 200kg.

Blue shark:

One of the most abundant oceanic sharks, blue sharks are generally docile but they have killed people in the past. They are often found in schools segregated by sex and size. Blue sharks can grow to almost four metres and around 150kg.

Bronze whaler:

A reputation in Australia for unprovoked attacks on people and have been responsible for two non-fatal attacks in New Zealand. They also come inshore during spring and early summer to breed and are reportedly often seen in large schools. Bronze whalers grow to around three metres long and weigh up to 300kg.


Growing up to six metres in length, hammerhead sharks are notable for their distinct hammer-shaped head. Large hammerheads can be dangerous to people.

Tiger shark:

Second only to great whites in terms of the threat they pose to humans and their number of attacks worldwide. Tiger sharks are rare in New Zealand but grow up to four metres and 900kg.

Sharks attack survivor now studies sharks instead of hating them

Kina Scollay knows better than most the dangers of a shark attack.

Thirteen years ago, aged 22, Scollay was diving off the coast of the Chatham Islands when he was attacked by a five-metre great white.

He had been diving for paua when he accepted a dare to dive to the seafloor 18m below. He grabbed a rock from the bottom to prove he had made it.

On his way back to the surface he was attacked. The shark's first bite hit his weight belt, and the second struck his leg.

He managed to beat the shark off with the rock and get to the surface where he was helped into the boat by his friends who administered first aid. He received extensive gashes and was flown to Christchurch Hospital for emergency surgery.

Yet Scollay refused to let the experience cower him and he has dedicated much of his time to documenting sharks, where he specialises in filming them underwater.

He has worked on the shark tagging project with NIWA and the Conservation Department, and made a documentary film describing the then unheard-of behaviour of great white sharks hunting in packs.

Now 35, Scollay does not want to talk about his attack, but wants to emphasise the low risk and the promising research being conducted into the behaviour of great whites.

"I'd hate to put a kid off swimming," he said.

"I still dive and I'm more aware of the risks than probably anyone and know a hell of a lot about white sharks - I've been working with them for twelve years ... I wouldn't dive if I thought it was unsafe and people can feel safe going swimming," he said.

"Your chances of getting attacked by a shark in New Zealand waters are absolutely bloody low no matter were you are."

Scollay said that, while many shark sightings would be a case of mistaken identity, people should be wary of certain situations.

"Obviously people should be sensible if there is a shark sighting or if there is a whale stranding or something like that, perhaps you should be careful, but other than that I think the risks are absolutely minimal for most people on most beaches."

"All the New Zealand shark attacks, including mine ... have all been in high risk places that most people will never be," he said.

Scollay said people should not be alarmed by an increase in shark sightings over summer.

Great White shark scare water police divers during training exercise

A GROUP of Water Police has been forced to wait 10 minutes underwater while a 4m great white shark circled above.

The divers were at 18m, on a training exercise at Grange tyre reef, when the shark appeared near a boat above them.

They remained in radio contact with boat crew until given the all clear to surface.

The divers were wearing Shark Shield, an electronic shark protector vest. The incident, on Monday, is one of four shark sightings this week.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Great White shark attack was foiled by a pod of dolphins

On Oct. 30, 2004, a pod of dolphins saved a group of lifeguards from being mauled by a shark in New Zealand.

According to reports by the New Zealand Herald and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Rob Howes and three women lifeguards (who included his 15-year-old daughter) were on a training swim off Ocean Beach when seven bottlenose dolphins swam toward them and circled them.
When an opening in the circle occurred, Howes and one of the women drifted away from the group. One large dolphin detached itself from the circle and dove a few meters away from them. Howes turned, waiting to see where the dolphin would surface.

That’s when he saw the three-meter-long great white shark. Per Howes’ account, the shark started moving toward the two other women and the dolphins “went into hyperdrive.”

They herded the swimmers together, circling four to eight centimeters from them, and slapping the water with their tails for about 40 minutes. The shark left when a rescue boat neared.

Could it be the same Great White shark?

A fisherman on the far south coast of New South Wales says he has been menaced by a large great white shark off Eden.

Allen Roberts of Pambula says he was 300 metres offshore last week when he encountered a shark he says was equal in size to his six-metre runabout.

"A great white had hold of the sea anchor and came straight at the boat," he said.
Local fishermen have reported similar incidents on the south coast in recent years.
Two years ago, a big shark towed a small fishing boat almost a kilometre out to sea near Montague Island, off Narooma.

There has been some local speculation that it might be the same shark.

Shark expert Rodney Fox says it is almost certainly not.

"It is probably lots of different sharks that are passing through of similar size," he said.
"They haven't got a number plate."

He says the species is known to travel thousands of kilometres in a relatively short period.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shocked anglers came face to face with a Great White shark

Three local anglers shared a once-in-10-lifetimes scare last week.

Captains Dave Crisp, Fred Morrow and Rick Ryals slipped out around 2 p.m. to do a quick snapper fishing trip near the Pablo Grounds on Crisp's 21-foot Sailfish.

As Ryals tells it, he was fishing one side of the boat when he heard Crisp yell. He looked around in time to see Crisp jacking a red snapper up out of the water and under it, "all I could see was white."
The blur that Ryals saw was the underside of a great white shark that had come out of the water after the snapper.

Ryals said it happened "in seconds, but it took us all 20 minutes to compose ourselves and start fishing again."

Ryals said they estimated that the shark's head was between 3 and 4 feet wide and its length was between 15 and 20 feet.

"It was nearly eye-level out of the water," Ryals said. "The three of us have, I'll bet, 125 years of experience on the water and it scared us like I've never been scared before."

The shark disappeared, but not before taking the snapper by biting cleanly through an 8/0 hook. This is the time of year that these rare encounters with great whites occur off our coasts. The big sharks follow the migration of right whales south. The whales calve here and baby whales are among the shark's favorite prey.

FWC reduces Gulf snapper limits

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Dec. 4 to reduce the recreational bag limit of Gulf gag grouper and red grouper from five to two fish daily per angler. It also closed the recreational harvest of gag and red grouper from Feb. 1 to March 31.

Other new rules increased the recreational minimum size limit for amberjack from 28 to 30 inches fork length and the limit on grey triggerfish from 12 to 14 inches. These rules take effect Jan. 1. The full agenda is online at

Bird seasons open again

The second phase of waterfowl and coot season opened Dec. 6 and runs through Jan 25. In addition to a regular hunting license, hunters are required to have both a Florida waterfowl permit and a federal duck stamp. It is illegal for hunters even to possess lead shot shells when waterfowl hunting. Woodcock season opens Dec. 20 and closes Jan. 18.

FWC sets blue crab closed seasons

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has proposed six regional closed seasons to the harvest of blue crabs.

The closures would be for 10 days and allow the FWC and other conservation groups to identify and retrieve lost or abandoned crab traps in state waters. The closure in the St. Johns River will be from Jan. 16 to Jan. 25.

All other state waters from the Georgia state line through Volusia County would close Aug. 20-29.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Shark bite being tested!

Marine biologist Enrico Gennari dangles one foot into the water as he calls out to a Great White shark circling his boat.

"Come on, Come on, you can do it," he says, as a 10-foot Great White shark swims within inches of the bait before turning away.

A BBC News report describes an outing with Mr. Gennari, in which he demonstrates his technique in measuring the biting strength of a Great White shark.

Gennari had spent three hours hanging his "Bitemeter" in the water. However, the long metal rod with a bag of fishy remains at the end was not having its intended effect this day.

Although Gennari and his team were successful in attracting a steady stream of sharks to the boat, the problem seemed to be that the sharks simply didn’t want to eat.

"Look at the marks on the gill. It's Roxanne," Enrico declared as he recognized a familiar shark passing by.

"We've know her for quite a while, We've tagged her a few months ago and tracked her."

But Roxanne, like the other sharks, was only interested in circling the boat, not in chomping down on "The Bitemeter”.

Enrico and his three volunteers had to settle for photographing fins and sporadically plunging a pole into the shark's side to obtain DNA samples.

The work is part of research being conducted by the South African Marine Predator Laboratory (SAMPLA) in Mossel Bay, whose goal is to establish a complete picture of the Great White's way of life.

"Humans can take the attitude: Let's just kill all the sharks and we can be safe," Ryan Johnson, a SAMPLA scientists, told BBC News.

"Or you can try and understand them and work out where they are at certain places in the bay and with that type of knowledge mitigate the threat they pose to us."

As well as being a popular tourist destination, Mossel Bay is home to roughly 80 Great Whites. Indeed, in Mossel Bay's tourism office, brochures for shark cage diving sit right next to those for beach resorts.

Fortunately, there has not been a fatal shark attack for nearly two decades, thanks in large part to information that SAMPLA has provided.

In many parts of South Africa and Australia surfers are occasionally mistaken for seals by the Great Whites. Seals are among the sharks’ favorite food.

However, in Mossel Bay surfers have been informed about safe locations and time of day.
"There are quite a few [sharks] but we haven't had problems here," a surfer told BBC News.
"If you go round the point there, there are a couple more sharks closer to the seals."
"The people are quite safe. The sharks stay around the island," Marcia Holm, the operations manager, says.

"The island has lots of seals and that's their diet - they don't really like humans."

After three-and-a-half hours, a shark finally gives "The Bitemeter" a nip.

"It was just 89 pounds per square inch - just a little bit more than a human bite," Gennari says proudly.

But for him, every hour spent trying to get a Great White to bite proves the sharks are not demonic creatures simply attacking everything in sight.

"This shows us that the Great Whites aren't animals that bite something every time they meet it,” he said.

"It's not an incredible Pac-Man that bites everything. It's a very cautious animal."

Shark Conservationist and expert test drive a Great White shark!

I seek a few thrills every now and again, but South African diver Mike Rutzen, Discovery Channel's "Sharkman", makes his thrill-seeking look more like death-seeking. Here, he slaps a great white. Then, he pokes it, grabs its fin then tail and holds on for a ride.

Now, Retzner is an expert. He's an accomplished free diver and shark conservationist with loads of experience (he even runs a "cage-free" great white diving experience). This stunt, like his show, is meant to show that Jaws was just a movie.

But still, don't try this. Ever.