Sunday, May 31, 2009

Great White shark sighted in action, near Perth

A great white shark has been sighted circling a whale carcass near a popular Perth beach.

Floating about six nautical miles west of Scarborough Beach, the carcass is believed to have attracted the shark, which was spotted on Sunday.

WA Department of Fisheries spokesman Tony Cappelluti said he was concerned the dead whale would float closer to the shoreline.

"While the carcass is a long way off any Perth beaches, it is important that boat users or divers are aware of the potential increased shark activity near the carcass," Mr Cappelluti said.

"There has also been another shark sighting this morning at Strickland Bay on Rottnest Island, where warning signs were erected several days ago after sightings made during the week.

Bill Donovan, the Basketball coach will swim with Great White sharks

No one has ever questioned if Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan can swim with the sharks in the brutal world of college hoops.

Now he's going to take a dip with the real thing.

Donovan's wife, Christine, organized a trip to South Africa where only a cage will separate the UF coach from great white sharks for several days during feedings.

"My youngest boy (Bryan, 12) loves sharks and we had talked a bunch about going to South Africa and getting in the cage with white sharks," Donovan said while attending the Southeastern Conference's spring meetings. "My wife said, 'I'm tired of all the talk. All you guys talk, but you don't do anything.' And she got on my calendar and she said, 'You're free for these days.' And she booked the whole trip."

Donovan, along with Bryan, Donovan's mother and a friend from Lexington, Ky., and his daughter, are taking the trip.

"We're leaving (today), it's an 18-hour flight," Donovan said. "We'll be in Cape Town for four days, and then we're going to Kruger National Park for four days."

Donovan and his son will go under water in cages, for protection from the sharks.

"I've never, ever scuba-dived," he said. "I think they give you a snorkel mask and the cage is like three-quarters of the way submerged. And then, four straight days we're going to watch them breach, jump out of the water. I got a great e-mail from the lady doing the trip and she said there's a lot of shark activity right now. I'm excited about it, I really am."

He said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley wanted some assurances.

"Jeremy Foley wanted to know that there would be no hands or limbs or anything else out of the cage while this is going on," Donovan said with a sheepish grin. "Yeah, that's what he told me. He said he needs some type of insurance policy there will not be any limbs outside the cage."

While Donovan was in Sandestin, however, Christine was dealing with another headache. Donovan found out Monday his passport had expired and she was scheduled to drive to Miami on Wednesday to pick up a replacement.

"My name is not real big at home right now," Billy Donovan confessed of the passport blunder.

Why take the trip now?

"The guy from Lexington that we're going with, his wife passed away four months ago with brain cancer," Donovan said. "She was my wife's best friend. My wife was like, you know what? Money, time, nothing can take the place of you and your son doing this experience-wise. And I'm not a great organizer. . . . She did the whole thing. (Bryan is) really, really excited and it's going to be a great time. He's really pumped up about this."

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Whale scavenged by Great White sharks

Kina Scollay/TREVOR ROBB

BIG BLUE: The 27-metre long, 150-tonne blue whale carcass found about 7 kilometres south of the Whanganui Inlet, at the southern end of Farewell Spit, on Tuesday.

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A massive blue whale that washed up on a remote West Coast beach had several shark bites, but experts said it was unlikely the sharks killed it.

Paua fishermen found the 27-metre long, 150-tonne carcass about 7 kilometres south of the Whanganui Inlet, at the southern end of Farewell Spit, on Tuesday.

Nelson paua fisherman Philip Walker said most of the tail had been chewed off and there were other bites on the whale's body.

He said Department of Conservation (DOC) staff had confirmed the bites were made by great white sharks. "It's the biggest one I have seen," Walker said."It was huge."

Another fisherman at the scene, Kina Scollay, was attacked by a great white shark, which took a bite out of his leg, off the Chatham Islands in 1995.

Whale expert Anton van Helden, collection manager of marine mammals at Te Papa in Wellington, said it was likely the bites were made after the whale died. A tissue sample would be taken for Auckland University's whale database.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Two unexpected Great White sharks participate to scientific study!

Two hungry sharks feeding on the rotting carcass of a whale off the Perth coast yesterday unwittingly joined Australia’s biggest research project into the predators’ behaviour.

WA Department of Fisheries spokesman Tony Cappelluti said a research vessel was heading north yesterday morning when its crew spotted a 3.5m great white shark feeding on the carcass about six nautical miles west of Scarborough.

Shark expert Dr Rory Macaulay went to investigate and a second, 4.5m-long shark was soon spotted. The scientists seized the opportunity to tag the sharks for a continuing, Australia-wide research project into when, where, how often and for how long great white sharks visit metropolitan beaches.

Leaning into the water only a metre or so away from the feeding beasts, they shot a dart-tipped spear into the back of the sharks near their dorsal fins.

This embedded tags that will monitor their movements for up to 10 years and set off alarms when they near the coastline.

“There’s hardly any reaction from the sharks — it’s almost like hitting them with a fly-swat,” Mr Cappelluti said.

He said with the prevailing weather conditions, the sharks were unlikely to present much of a risk to beachgoers.

“Those sharks will probably clean it up over the next few days,” Mr Cappelluti said.

“We’ll probably not see that whale carcass come ashore and it therefore won’t attract any sharks to the coast.” A third shark was spotted by a surfer at Rottnest yesterday morning.