Archive for the 'shark' Category

Prehistoric shark found in Japan

January 26, 2007

I got at least 40 hits yesterday from people looking for this news article so I thought I’d post it – public service: 

shark

A rare frilled shark was captured live by fishermen off the coast of Japan. The toothy eel-like creature was taken to Awashima Marine Park in Shizuoka where it later died according to Reuters.

The 5-foot (1.6 meter) long beast was believed to be ill because it was found in shallow waters. Generally the species, known as Chlamydoselachus anguineus, lives at a depth of 488-4550 feet (150-1400 m). It is considered a primitive shark, largely unchanged since prehistoric times.

“We believe moving pictures of a live specimen are extremely rare,” Reuters quoted an official at the park as saying. “They live between 600 and 1000 metres under the water, which is deeper than humans can go. We think it may have come close to the surface because it was sick, or else it was weakened because it was in shallow waters.”

sharkjapanprehistory

text and images from here

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Sharks from a kayak

December 14, 2006

Shark!. eek. (See Swim at your own risk for some harrowing stories and a funny take on shark phobias).

Many people may have seen this but I just came across it.

sharkkayak

It is a real picture (see here for verification) of a shark of the coast of Africa. It comes from an article in Africa Geographic and is about a group of researchers that are studying sharks from a kayak.

“Sitting in a 3.8-metre sea kayak and watching a four-metre great white approach you is a fairly tense experience. Although we had extensively tested the sharks’ reactions to an empty kayak and had observed no signs of aggression, this gave us little comfort as we eyed a great white heading straight for us, albeit slowly. Just a metre or so from the craft it veered off, circled and slowly approached from behind. It did this several times, occasionally lifting its head out of the water to get a better look. Then it lost interest, and as it continued on its way we were able to follow a short distance behind. Once we’d come to terms with having nothing between ourselves and a four-metre shark except a thin layer of plastic, our kayak made an ideal research platform for observing great white behaviour in shallow water.”

Not a shark

December 14, 2006

Not all black finned shadows you see below your kayak are sharks though…

notashark

This one was identified as a dolphin by snopes dot com

Shark attack

December 14, 2006

Today is shark day on this blog. I thought I’d dredge up a couple of old links to shark attack stories but in the process of finding these, I found a few more, so sorry if this is a long post…

1. California – kayaker capsized by a great white

Matt Hinton’s kayak was attacked by a White Shark, 150 meters off Trinidad Head and Beach, Humboldt County, California. Hinton, age 44, was 20 to 30 meters seaward of a craggy exposed rock. The water there was 1 to 2 fathoms deep, with a temperature of 14°C. At 1700 hours, Wednesday, 5 September 1990, the sky was clear and the air temperature was 20°C. The sea was calm and exceptionally flat, with a small westerly swell undulating above the sandy ocean floor and 5-6knot winds.

The kayak was 2.7 meters in length and colored medium blue. Hinton was dressed in a full black wetsuit and had been kayaking 15 to 20 minutes.

As a large rolling wave approached the kayak, Hinton turned slightly toward shore and began paddling slowly. The wave carried him inshore for several meters before he made a gentle turn to parallel the beach, heading north. Within moments of changing course, the kayak was violently struck from below and behind the rider’s cockpit. The kayak was lifted almost a meter out of the water before tipping over to starboard (the right side). Hinton recalled,

“I had a pretty good idea of what was happening. I’d heard about Rodney’s [Swan’s] attack ten days previous at the same beach, and was not at all that surprised. When I was underwater, I looked to my left and saw the shark. It looked to me as though the shark had turned off to my left after hitting the boat and was now in a slow turn back to the right. As the shark’s body curved away to its right, I was looking at the left profile only four or five feet away. The top of the shark was very dark, almost black, and the belly bright, gleaming white. The line of demarcation between the dark and light was very sharp and wavy. I estimated its size [length] to be 8 to 10 feet [approximately 2.5 to 3 meters]. I still had my paddle in my hands, and aimed a two-handed cross-body thrust at the shark’s head. The next thing I knew, I was on the surface about 20 feet [about 6 meters] from my boat.”

Hinton began the long swim to the beach, glancing back in fear that the shark might return. He held his paddle during the entire swim, which he estimated to take five minutes. Hinton had to wait on shore about 20 minutes before his kayak washed up into water shallow enough for him to wade out and retrieve it. He drained the kayak of water and spent about 10 minutes looking over its surface for evidence of the shark’s attack.

Matt Hinton wrote: “Following the attack I spent about ten minutes looking over the boat from stem to stern, hoping to find a tooth or two embedded in the hull. There were no teeth to be found; in fact, I couldn’t even tell if there were any new scratches or gouges among all the old ones already present.” Given the attacking shark’s potential for inflicting injury, the kayaker was fortunate to have escaped unharmed.

read the whole story here

2. South Africa – surf ski bitten by great white

…Trevor Wright and his paddling partner Alan Weston… were attacked by what was estimated to be a four-metre long shark.

The last time a shark attacked a surfskier was in 2002 when a Great White bit the tail end off Paul Mauger’s surfski. He escaped unscathed.

Weston, a 54-year-old firefighter, said last night he would not have gone out had he known that there had been a sighting earlier in the day.

“You just don’t tempt fate like that,” said Weston, who has been paddling with Wright three to four times a week for the past four years.

Wright, 54, who is a surveyor at the city council, said that he was doing well following his ordeal. The pair said they would first take to the waters at Marina Da Gama before they hit the open sea again.

Wright said he was paddling with Weston when he felt a knock at the back of his surfski.

“I suspected it was a shark and shouted to Alan that there was trouble. The next thing I knew, the thing had come around to the front of my surfski. All I saw was an open mouth and eyes looking up at me.”

Wright said although he panicked when he was bumped, he thought: “It’s either going to be you or me and it’s not going to be me.”

“When I saw the thing with its open mouth at the front of my ski, it looked really mean and I thought this is not going to be a joke. It means serious business.”

While the shark bit and gnawed at the front end of his surfski, Wright rested the back of his paddle on the water to support him so that he would not fall out. Before he knew it, the shark had moved alongside.

“I don’t know where its head or tail was. There was just this huge body next to me.

“I didn’t see the fin. I thought it was going to knock me out, but it must have dived. I just turned towards the rocks and paddled as fast as I could back to the shore.”

Weston said the whole scene was “surreal”.

“It looked like a movie. Trevor shouted to me and I could see there was something wrong. But then I just saw the shark’s head breach the water and how it took out his boat.

“I paddled like heck towards him so that he could hang onto my boat just in case he fell out, but luckily the shark disappeared.”

read the whole article here

3. Shark stalks boat

dory

One of the more intriguing cases of a White Shark attack on a boat occurred on 9 July 1953 off Fourchu, on the southeastern coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Commercial fisherman John D. Burns, with companion John MacLeod, set out daily in his dory to harvest lobsters.

Many dories dotted the sea in their quest of the prized crustacean, but only Burns’ had a white-painted hull. For nearly a week the white-hulled dory was followed by a large shark after leaving the harbor. Day after day the other fishermen watched in disbelief as the shark stalked Burns and MacLeod’s dory from behind, just as an African Lion (Panthera leo) on the savanna might stalk a Thomson’s Gazelle (Gazella thomsoni).

No sooner would their dory put out to sea than a large dorsal fin would appear astern of the boat. Then, as the dory sailed alone on July 9, the shark charged, smashing a 20-centimeter hole through the bottom of the boat. Burns and MacLeod were thrown violently into the sea. Tragically, Burns was unable to combat the heavy seas and drowned. MacLeod, however, was rescued hours later, clinging cold and forlorn to the hull of Burns’ damaged dory.

The shark did not return after its initial – and only – strike against the boat. After the boat was retrieved, an incriminating tooth fragment was removed from the hole in the dory’s hull. Ichthyologist William C. Schroeder, of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, identified this tooth fragment as having been lost by “a White Shark about 12 feet [approximately 4 meters] in length and weighing 1,100 to 1,200 pounds [500 to 550 kilograms].”

story from here

4. Kayak Fisherman Harassed by Shark

A very shaken kayak fisherman… was recently harassed by a very large shark while fishing around 800 meters offshore on the east coast of Northland.

The shark started it’s relentless harassment of the kayak while the fisherman was hauling in a boat longline with fish on. The shark was taking or mauling the fish on the longline right under the kayak as the line was being hauled in.

In a bit of a panic and keen to put some distance between himself and the agressive shark, the fisherman quickly cut away the longline and accidentally sliced himself deeply above the knee in the process, this cut bled profusely.

The fisherman, obviously shocked by all this, then paddled very slowly away from the longline. Unfortunately, once the line was cut the shark shifted all of it’s attention onto the kayak, it started by circling, and then bumping against the kayak. Occasionaly the shark would submerge only to come up from the depths and bump into the kayak from below.

The fisherman then put all of his remaining bait and burley into a plastic bag and tossed it well away from the kayak in the hope that this would divert the sharks attention, it almost worked as the shark went over to investigate the cause of the splash where the bait bag had landed, but to his horror it returned seconds later.

During the worst parts of the harrassment the fisherman was nearly knocked out of the kayak by the shark several times and had to put his legs over the side and into the water to regain balance.

He also vomited several times during the attack, probably due to the shock of being exposed to a serious and life threating situation for such an extended period of time.

In all the shark hit the kayak between 15 and 20 times with different parts of it’s anatomy including the body, dorsal fin and tail.

When the fisherman was only 150 to 200 meters offshore the back of the kayak was hit violently and the stern momentarily went under. As soon as he had regained balance the fisherman poured on the power with the paddle and, as he reached the shallow weed line near the rocks, he glanced over his shoulder to see the shark close behind, but veering away to avoid the reef.

The shark was huge, on one pass at right angles and just under the center of the kayak the fisherman noted the width of the head was greater than the distance from the back of his seat to the front of his foot rests, his estimate is a meter or more between the eyes. On this pass the dorsal fin hit the kayak amidships and almost capsized it.

As for the length he noted that the shark tail extended “five to six feet” behind the stern of the kayak when the head of the shark was level with the front. He said the kayak is “twelve and a half feet long” so the shark must have been between 17′ 6″ to 18′ 6′ long or 5.33 to 5.64 meters!

The fisherman describes the shark as having a shiny, almost jet black top and very white undersides. He mentioned the pectoral fins and tail were huge and he was adamant the tail was positioned vertically on the shark (which rules out a killer whale or other dolphin). He said the dorsal fin never rose higher than 300 to 400mm above the water although, as the back of the huge fish never broke the surface, it could have been longer.

He also noted the front of the head was flat and not pointed, this may rule out a white pointer, otherwise a great white would fit the rest of the description perfectly.

Struggling hooked fish is probably the most powerful shark attractant available. Sharks can pick up vibrations from struggling fish from kilometers away almost instantly, and this is probably what brought the shark to the boat in the first place. When the shark arrived it took some fish from the longline which likely put it into a feeding mode, the added smell of blood in the water from the fish it had mauled would have probably kept in interested in the area.

Blood from the bait and burley thrown overboard, and any that was being washed off the deck of the kayak, plus the vomit and bleeding from the badly cut knee would have all added to the sharks curiousity in the kayak.

the whole story here

5. A pit bull shark?

March 16 2002, A snorkeler hunting for sand dollars 300 yards off Deerfield Beach Friday morning became the prey of a 3-foot nurse shark. Robert Land, 39, of Deerfield Beach, said he was swimming above a school of fish, when the shark lunged forward and clamped onto his left arm.

“I had to grab him and make my way up top to get more air,” Land said. He said he spent about five minutes struggling in the water, fighting with the shark while trying to breathe, when nearby boaters noticed his distress and came over to help.

“If they weren’t there, I don’t think you’d be talking to me right now,” Land said. But even when he was safely on the boat’s deck, Land was hardly out of harm’s way. The persistent shark refused to release its grip, so the boaters slit its belly — to no avail. “It was trying to rip my arm. Scary,” Land said.

With the shark still dangling from Land’s arm, the boaters raced to the nearby docks at the Boca Raton Beach Club, 900 S. Ocean Blvd., where Boca Raton Fire-Rescue workers were waiting. There, paramedics pried the shark’s jaws open with wood planks and pieces of metal, Land said. They gave Land nitrous oxide to ease the pain, but he said he never lost consciousness.

Land was taken to Boca Raton Community Hospital, where he was treated and released, said hospital spokeswoman Betsy Whisman. He said his arm is riddled with teeth marks, and now his biggest concern is infection. Land said he’s not going to let a little shark bite keep him out of the water.

from here

Lastly…

This article on US shark attacks at Wikipedia makes for somber and sad reading. It is a list of shark deaths in the US. There are only two kayak related deaths:

Tamara McAllister, 24 January 26, 1989 Great white shark Killed while kayaking off the coast of Malibu, California with her boyfriend, Roy Jeffrey Stoddard. McAllister’s body was found floating face down two days later with large sections from her legs and buttocks missing; no trace of Stoddard has ever been found.

and

Leonard Gant April 15, 1953 Unconfirmed Killed by a shark off McGregor Point, Maui, Hawaii swimming after canoe he was in became swamped.

a selection of others:

Suk Kyu (Steve) Park November 19, 1991 Tiger shark Fishing from rocks, swept out to sea and treading water when attacked at Maliko Point, Maui, Hawaii. His body was not recovered. Shorts found indicate shark bite on left side.
Gilbert S. Hotta January 16, 1950 Unconfirmed Swept into the sea while fishing by a large wave near Kahakuloa, Maui, Hawaii. His remains were recovered from a “huge shark” three days later.
Richard Clark Best Jr, 8 June 20, 1934 Unconfirmed, probably a bull or tiger shark Killed while standing in the surf at Melbourne, Florida.
Joseph Blaney 1905-1910 Unconfirmed, probably a great white shark Killed after falling into the water from a small boat in Swampscott, Essex County, Massachusetts. The shark had upset the boat and he fell into the water.

These brought tears to me eyes, they read like gravestones and the ones where children died get me every time. (This phenomenon started when my wife and I had our first child).

*****

If you are now worried you can read about what to do on topkayaker.net they also tell some more scary stories. But really you shouldn’t worry as they say here:

“A more serious hazard is suggested by a flattened saxophone.

That comical, two-dimensional instrument belongs to my friend John Lull, a blues musician and member of the Tsunami Rangers kayak club. Six years ago, Lull camped on a beach up this way. He awoke, left his tent, went to the campfire for coffee. A few seconds later, a hunk of cliff broke away and thundered down toward camp.

“Rocks as big as engine blocks fell from about 100 feet up,” Lull relates. “They hit a ledge, bounced, landed on my tent.”

Lull went back to dig out his gear. His flattened sax now hangs on his living room wall, a reminder to take great care when selecting a camp near steep and friable coastal rock.”