Posts tagged ‘shark’

June 30, 2011

Cyclops Bull Shark? Bull-oney!

I really needed a laugh today and boy did one of my pals deliver via email this morning:

We cover a lot of hybrid fishes here on Reef Builders but the one eyed bull shark recently discovered in the Sea of Cortez really takes the cake. The cyclops shark was an unborn pup that was removed from a large female bull shark,Carcharhinus leucas, captured off of Mexico in the Sea of Cortez. Even though the photo of the cyclops shark is totally real and confirmed by scientists who have seen the shark pup, there’s a natural tendency to dismiss the photo as an excellent photoshopping job. But it isn’t.

Unfortunately the cyclops shark fetus was already dead by the time it was removed from its large female bull shark mother. Although the cyclops shark may have been at a disadvantage in the wild, bull sharks are pretty aggressive and they have a keenly developed sense of smell and electromagnetic field which is their primary mode of hunting. Had the cyclops shark survived it would have been the ultimate public aquarium attraction, but until another one is caught we’ll just have to contend with the occasional albino shark.

Hahahahaha!  Look at that eye!

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June 26, 2011

Dolphins Aren't the Only Spinning Ocean Predators

How fun is this?! New Smyrna Beach is a lightning rod for shark activity.  It’s well known locally and internationally by the dubious distinction as the “shark bite capital of the world”!  This fact hardly deters all the surfers here in the Sunshine State.  Many I know have a deep reverence for these animals and see their presence in the water as good luck in some ways.

However, that’s typically when they’re sighting smaller blacktip sharks.  Who knew we would ever see video of a spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna) beautifully executing the feeding strategy that earned him his moniker in video!  All new meaning to hang ten if you ask me.

June 20, 2011

Swim Too Close And You Get the Machete!

Well friends, I read the following story this morning and it took a full day of pondering, gestating, and considering all the angles in it before I could rationally write something for WaterNotes.  I hate to say it, but I still may not have cooled down enough to approach rational rhetoric because this story out of Grand Cayman is breathtakingly unacceptable.

Penny Palfrey, a 48 year old Australian grandmother and ultra swimmer, managed to set an astonishing new record for unassisted solo ocean swims last week by cruising from Little Cayman to Grand Cayman.  She covered 67.25 miles in just under forty-one hours.  While this is – obviously – quite the athletic feat there is one big, ugly problem with this story.

Palfrey’s support vessel and crew killed three oceanic white tips during her swim, presumably to prevent her from being bitten, when the sharks appeared to get close.   In fact four in total did get too close for comfort and the reports are that she was even bumped during the night time portion of her swim.  The crew decided to lure the sharks away from her using offerings of fish carcasses and then killed three in the 6 to 8-foot size range with a machete.

A machete!

While there is something to be said for Palfrey’s dedication to her sport, I question the validity of any sport where only some risks are considered acceptable and other risks are to be managed at all costs.   Can you imagine the avalanche of bad press if Iditarod mushers shot and killed wolves to protect themselves and their dogs during the course? (Wait, do they do that?!)

I don’t want to see anyone eaten by sharks anymore than I want kittens to have control of nuclear weapons. (Can you imagine them batting at the blinking red lights?  We’d be toast!)  It’s not about asking someone to literally die for their sport, it’s about being reasonable, ethical, and appreciative of other forms of life that are not human.

If Palfrey had hit a wall and flailed about from exhaustion and her life was truly in danger, her crew would have done the reasonable thing and pulled her from the water.  When the sharks showed up and she likewise truly felt her life was in danger, pulling her from the water would be the smart, reasonable, and ethical thing to do.  When she was clearly suffering dehydration no one took a Zodiac out to pour Gatorade down a pipeline to her mouth. No one should have hacked apart three predators for doing nothing more than what they are on the planet to do – prey upon things.

I’m outraged on so many levels by this because it is so self-centered and unacceptable to put a single human’s wants and desires before these animals that are already under other human-related stress in their environment.  When I go kayaking in salt marshes I don’t hack apart large alligators that rise up to the surface a few feet off my boat.  When I SCUBA dive I don’t freak out and launch underwater harpoons at the lurking barracuda or the nurse sharks under the coral ledges.  All three of these animals could indeed hurt me, and I have been approached by each previously, but as a pink, rather defenseless but large-brained animal I do the smart thing… I get out of their environment and back into my own!

June 3, 2011

White Shark Fever.. Dun-na-nahh!

Wait, that’s not AC/DC is it? Apparently I need to shore up my classic rock knowledge!  Perhaps to get a good dose I’ll just head on down to Adelaide, Australia and sign on for a white shark cage diving charter and experience with the guys at Adventure Bay Charter who pump underwater speakers full of AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long and ironically If You Want Blood.

Instead of chumming for the sharks these days – which seems to rile them up and lead to aggressively charged viewing – the low frequencies in these songs are thought to be the lure that leads them in towards the boat.  Now whether that’s something they’ve always been attracted to (low frequency whale songs anyone?) or they’ve learned by association (low frequency boat motor sounds = chum?) is anyone’s guess at the moment, but let’s be real: SHARKS LOVE CLASSIC ROCK!  Perhaps it’s a mystery that no one needs to pry apart but just enjoy.

Also exciting, the copy of Project White Shark from the Monterey Bay Aquarium that I just ordered.  For ten years now I’ve marveled at MBA’s tireless patience and tenacity in researching and displaying these big beautiful predators.  There’s still so much to learn, but this release promises to shed quite a lot of light on the summary of their project’s endeavors so far.   Pick one up if you’re a shark nerd like me!

You can also read more from MBA about sharks and especially their protection with regards to the shark fin trade over at their blog Sea Notes, where Executive Director Julie Packard posted this passionate take on the issue.