Thursday August, 16 2012
What’s the deal with all the great white shark sightings, encounters and incidents lately? It seems more and more great white sharks are showing up on local news channels, youtube videos and in pictures than ever before.
Recent news has seen a man killed by a great white shark in Australia, a photograph of a man in a kayak being tailed by the fin of a large white shark in cape cod followed in a short time span of a man getting his legs bit in the vice like grip of a great white shark on the east coast of the US.
On the west coast a larger than usual great white shark was caught on home video and showed up on the evening news in Venice beach. The shark was larger than the fishing vessel whos occupants filmed it. Not long before this a female lifeguard had a close encounter with a white shark while exercising on her paddleboard just past the break line at La Jolla shores beach in San Diego.
There is also the photo that surprised the surf photographer who was reviewing his film after shooting a surf session at a popular Encinitas beach and found what was confirmed to be the tail fin of a large white shark in the wave with the surfers.
A couple years ago in southern California viewers were surprised with a sup riders go pro video sensation of two white sharks swimming under his board. In 2008 the Solana beach community mourned the loss of a local resident who was fatally bitten by a large white shark closer to shore than was reported.
In southern California from Imperial Beach, Cardiff, Huntington beach to LA there are pictures and accounts from witnesses on the Shark Research Committee’s pacific coast shark news page.
The increase in white shark sightings is due to a number of factors, the main being that California law passed in 1994 making it illegal to fish or hunt the great white shark. After the late 70’s hit movie Jaws it became more popular than ever to hunt and kill the shark for trophies found in the fins, teeth and jaw-bones that could bring in thousands of dollars.
The sharks were less likely hunted to near extinction as was once believed but rather flee and give a wide berth to an area when the smell of one of their own is killed. In recent years whale watchers observed an orca or “killer whale” eating a great white shark after ramming it and turning it over forcing it into a catatonic state before feasting on the sharks liver. Researchers observed that this particular orca has a taste for sharks and others in the pod and other pods have learned to do so as well. Researchers also observed that tagged white sharks in the area fled the area of the orca attack on the white shark. Great whites in the area dove deep and traveled a sizable distance from the area after apparently smelling or sensing the incident even from miles away.
It is still not illegal to hunt, fish or kill the white shark in other areas of the world and the jaw bone trophies still fetch thousands of dollars.
Australian officials have considered lifting the ban on hunting the white shark as a way of dealing with the increase in attacks in the region.
There are some in California who would like to go against the ban and hunt the white shark again.
A more peaceful and eco friendly way to have more piece of mind and prevent sharks and humans from interacting in the wrong way is for more swimmers, surfers and divers to invest in the SharkShield ™ technology which has been tested and filmed turning sharks away including the great white due to the sharks sensitivity to a three directional wave form impacting its Ampullae of Lorenzini causing non damaging but uncontrollable spasms in the AL that cause it to flee the area.
The increase in incidents with sharks is also possibly due to the increase in human population and increase in humans in the water.
On a positive note for surfers, all the shark news may thin out the crowds and thin the line up for more un-crowded waves. One can only hope.
A sharks dorsal fin will have a straighter trailing edge while the dolphin and porpoise have a very curved trailing edge dorsal fin.
You can also feel confident in being able to spot a shark fin by knowing the sharks tail fins are vertical and sometimes break the surface ever so slightly behind the dorsal fin. Dolphins, porpoises and whales tail fins are horizontal. Many shark species also have the second small dorsal fin close to the tail that may be seen protruding from the water. See descriptive drawing below.