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Fake shark attack warning signs are the latest weapon in a surfer’s failed battle to hog the waves. On Wednesday night, an unknown person posted as many as ten signs carrying the official logo of the California State Parks stating that there had been multiple shark sightings in the water off Pleasure Point near Santa Cruz.
A surfing forecast had said that the waves would be especially good for the next 48 hours.
However, the shark attack sign said that surfers should either stay out of the water for 48 hours or consider using a different beach five miles away. According to the posted notices, there were two reported sightings of great white sharks and one great white shark attack in the area.
On Thursday, California park authorities removed the signs and came forward to assure surfers that the warnings were bogus. The people who put up the fake shark attack signs haven’t been found.
However, both park officials and other surfers believe that the motive is pretty obvious — the unknown pranksters wanted the beach all to themselves.
A disgusted visitor told local news station KTVU:
“You know, it’s a pretty big ocean. I think there’s room for everyone. And with that I’m going to go put my wetsuit on.”
Others told KPIX that the hoax was dangerous, because it would teach other surfers to ignore the warnings. One surfer even said that he’d previously surfed with a shark by his side.
As surfers hurried to the beach to take advantage of the good waves, reporters asked if the people who posted the fake shark attack warnings actually broke any laws.
KTVU suggested that posting an official-looking sign was about the same as filing any false report and could be prosecuted under those laws.
KPIX essentially agreed, reporting that the use of the California State Parks logo to make the sign appear official was in fact an offense.
So, people, don’t decide it’s a cool thing to do to get the beach to yourself.
BOSTON (Reuters) - A 13-foot great white shark off the coast of Cape Cod prompted Massachusettsofficials on Friday to warn beachgoers to be aware of their surroundings and to use common sense when swimming.
State biologists located the shark, which had been tagged with an acoustic transmitter, near Cape Cod island of Monomoy on May 28. White shark sightings have been on the rise off the Massachusetts coast, the setting for the 1970s shark movie, "Jaws".
The Department of Marine Fisheries advised people to avoid swimming at dawn and dusk, to stay close to the shore and to avoid areas where seals congregate.
Massachusetts has been compiling data on great white sharks since 1987. Experts have said the sharks are attracted to that coast by a growing population of gray seals.
There have been eight recorded shark attacks in Massachusetts, two of which were fatal, according to Shark Attack File, which compiles data on shark attacks worldwide.
In the latest attack, a vacationer from Colorado was bitten in the legs off Cape Cod in July 2012.
White sharks can be found in all of the world's oceans and can grow as long as 20 feet and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds.
(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Toni Reinhold)
Nearly two years to the day after a deadly shark attack near Lompoc, another surfer was killed on Tuesday. The victim has been identified as 39-year-old Francisco Javier Solorio Junior. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Surf Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2012
A 39-year-old man surfing off Surf Beach near Lompoc was pronounced dead Tuesday after he was pulled from the water suffering from an apparent shark attack.
A friend pulled the victim onto the sand and started CPR while another surfer called 911. The victim was pronounced dead at the beach, which is about 60 miles northwest of Santa Barbara on Vandenberg Air Force Base (map).
The victim was identified as Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, of nearby Orcutt.
An initial investigation said he was "bitten by the shark in the upper torso area," according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.
Solorio was not affiliated with the military base, according to a press release from Vandenberg, which initially said the victim was 38 years old.
Solorio's fatal injury appeared to be a shark bite, and his surf board had "visible signs of bite marks," according to Lt. Erik Raney of the sheriff’s department's Santa Maria station.
The sheriff's department did not have details regarding the type of shark involved in the attack but had contacted an expert to confirm the injury, the Vandenberg release stated.
The Vandenberg Air Force Base Fire Department responded to the 911 call at about 11 a.m. Three other males were at the beach at the time of the attack, the sheriff's department said.
In October 2010, a 19-year-old college student was killed in a shark attack off Surf Beach. Lucas Ransom was bodyboarding when he disappeared under the water about 100 yards off shore.
In 2008, a shark bit a surfer's board in the waters off the beach, one of three on the Air Force base.
Surf Beach was closed until further notice Tuesday and base officials were asking the public to avoid the area "due to safety considerations."
"We've had shark sightings up and down the Santa Barbara coastline pretty frequently recently," Raney told the Associated Press.
One shark expert says, despite decades of study, shark behavior is a mystery.
"When we do see attacks like this, they typically occur at more remote sites. Places where there aren't a lot of people at the beach. Why that is, we're not sure ... but we suspect that sharks avoid areas where there are high densities of people," said Dr. Christopher Lowe, of Cal State Long Beach.
Still, Lowe says humans seldom fall victim to fatal shark attacks.
"Your chances of dying in a fatal car crash driving to the beach to go surfing, so overwhelm the probability of you actually encountering a shark in the wild, that it becomes almost crazy to worry about," Lowe said.
A group of men off the coast of Southern California landed a massive shark and it could be a history-making catch.
"Yeehaw!" the sportfishermen yelled when they saw the fins slice the gray channel water off Huntington Beach.
The chum of chopped mackerel and sardines had worked. The fight was on — and so were the cameras.
The six men had motored out in the June gloom Monday morning for more than a day of fun. They were filming a reality show called "The Professionals" for the Outdoor Channel.
The way they tell it, they hooked a giant mako and Jason Johnston, from Mesquite, Texas, got in the pole harness to reel it in. He grunted and slipped and slid for 2 1/2 hours as the shark ran the line out almost a mile, thrashing and jumping 20 feet in the air. They finally pulled it to the side of the boat, the Breakaway, and tied it up with a steel cable.
By the time they hauled it to Huntington Harbour and had it weighed at a processing plant in Gardena, they realized they appeared to have broken a record for the largest mako to be caught by line, 1,323.5 pounds.
The men posed next to the cobalt blue fish and opened its jaws, revealing its dagger-sharp rows of teeth to the cameras. They breathlessly recounted how, if anything went wrong, they would have ended up as "lunch" or "at the bottom of the sea."
Johnston, 40, described it to one television reporter as "a gigantic nightmare looking to reap horrible terror on anything it comes across."
One of Earth's most ancient and mythologized creatures still manages to stir humans' imaginations, scratching that atavistic urge to bring in a monster. But even before it became clear that the catch was for a reality show, plenty of people wondered why they really had to kill such a magnificent animal.
Wouldn't just pulling it close and photographing it have been enough?
Ben Ahadpour, who owns the marina the fisherman left from, said the captain of the boat, Matt Potter, 33, of Huntington Beach, knew the dock rules prohibited bringing in sharks.
"He shouldn't have done that," Ahadpour said. "They could have done a catch and release. They can bring it up close, take a picture and let the shark go. But I guess they're so excited about their catch and getting his two minutes of fame."
David McGuire, the director of Shark Stewards, a Bay Area nonprofit that advocates for the protection of sharks, said he was shocked.
"It's really something you see more in Florida than in California, where we have more of a conservation ethic," he said. "People should be viewing these sharks as wonderful animals that are important to the ocean and admiring how beautiful they are."
He lamented that so many shows about sharks continue to evoke Jaws-like terror rather than science. "These kind of reality shows are not reality. The reality is we're overfishing sharks, and this macho big-game attitude should be a relic of the past."
Keith Poe, a sportfisherman who tags and releases sharks for conservationists, said that most anglers are releasing sharks these days, but might keep a potential record-breaker .
The 1,323.5-pound-plus mako shark caught off the coast of Huntington Beach could break a world record. Current record-holders of select shark species:
|Type||World record||Location taken||Date||Calif. record|
|White||2,664 lbs.||Ceduna, Australia||1959||NA|
|Mako||1,221 lbs.||Chatham, Mass.||2001||1,098 bs., 12 oz.|
|Thresher||767 lbs., 3 oz.||Bay of Islands, New Zealand||1983||575 lbs.|
|Blue||528 lbs.||Montauk, N.Y.||2001||258 lbs., 8 oz.|
Sources: Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game; International Game Fish Assn. Graphics reporting by Julie Sheer
Los Angeles Times
"I wouldn't keep it, but the general sportfishing community would say it's acceptable," Poe said.
Potter, whose nickname is "Mako Matt," doesn't buy any of the criticism, adding that he unloaded the shark at a public dock — not the marina. "It's just like any other fishing. The state limit for mako is two per person per day."
He said he had five passengers out for three days and kept only the big shark. And he said he did not break the marina's rules because he used the public docks.
Jack Vitek, the world records coordinator for the International Game Fish Assn., said the catch was "enormous."
GAINESVILLE, Fla., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Shark attacks in the United States in 2012 were the highest since 2000, while worldwide fatalities stayed near average levels, researchers in Florida said.
There were 53 U.S. shark attacks last year, the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File report released Monday said.
Eighty unprovoked attacks occurred worldwide, slightly more than 2011, the report said.
The most shark bites, 42, occurred in North American waters. (The 53 U.S. incidents include Hawaii and Puerto Rico, not considered as occurring in North American waters as defined by the International Shark Attack File database.)
Florida led the country with 26, followed by Hawaii (10), California (5), South Carolina (5), North Carolina (2), and one each in Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Puerto Rico, the report said.
Four attacks were recorded in South Africa, three of which resulted in death, while Australia had an average year with 14 attacks and two fatalities, the researchers said.
"The numbers from an international standpoint were on target for the last couple of years because, in theory, each year we should have more attacks than the previous year owing to the rise of human population from year to year," said George Burgess, director of the shark file housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus.
"Thus the shark attack rate is not increasing even though the number of shark attacks is rising. Shark attack as a phenomenon is extremely uncommon, considering the millions of hours humans spend in the water each year."
George Burgess and the International Shark Attack File perform CSI-level investigations into gruesome underwater encounters.
By Colleen Sharkey
If you find yourself face to face with a shark or, perhaps more accurately, leg to mouth, call George Burgess. Well, maybe call an ambulance first but then definitely contact Burgess and his International Shark Attack File (ISAF) colleagues — the CSI of shark attacks — with all of the gory details. Chances are you will live to tell the tale and Burgess and company want to record all incidents (even if a shark just bumps your surfboard) with the File at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The ISAF contains reports of more than 5,000 incidents, including evidence of shark attacks from as long ago as the mid-1500s. Some data have no living corroborators, so they are culled from newspaper clippings, with as much information as possible being added to this vast database. Many of the entries, however, are completed by the victims themselves, who are asked to fill out an eight-page questionnaire. The survey asks meticulous questions about water conditions, victim activity and, most importantly, the shark’s modus operandi.
The earliest iteration ISAF was prompted by the U.S. Navy’s quest for an effective shark repellent after numerous downed servicemen were attacked during World War II. A group of shark researchers quickly accumulated more than 1,000 attack reports. The data, however, were proving hard to analyze without sophisticated computer programs. In 1968, the Navy ended its search for a solution and, according to Burgess, with good reason. “Ivory soap is just as good a repellent as anything,” he explains. “Sharks don’t like surfactants. You could put any number of chemicals in a shark’s face and it’ll go away. The problem is, you’d have to have a continual high concentration [of the substance] in the water — like people out on a barge continually pumping the water full of chemicals — and that’s impossible [in a real-world situation]. You’re never really going to solve the problem using that route.” At that point, the ISAF moved away from seeking a preventive tool and evolved into a rich resource for worldwide research and conservation.
Certainly heightened by the popularity of Jaws, the culture of shark fear causes many to think that a meeting with a large one means certain death, but the overwhelming majority of incidents are survivable and even relatively minor. On average, you have a one in 11.5 million chance of dying in a shark attack, according to ISAF. Statistically, you have a far better chance of being hit by lightning; but lightning doesn’t come with a suspenseful John Williams-penned theme or an ominous dorsal fin. Years of research, completed by people such as Burgess and his team, have led ichthyologists and others who study the elasmobranch order (sharks, skates and rays) to see that white sharks are curious hunters who indulge in exploratory bites before deciding to go in for the kill. This typically allows for the shark’s victim to bleed out so the shark doesn’t have to do as much work for his meal. This so-called hit-and-run tactic helps conserve energy, which is of utmost importance since food sources can be scarce. The largest great white sharks are the females and they can be as long as 20′ and weigh up to two tons. Try feeding that on a budget. Due to overfishing and other human intervention, regular food sources aren’t always available so sharks have to snap up whatever is around, even if it is grade-D human meat, a far cry from the blubbery goodness of a young seal. However, whether the shark is attracted by activity on the surface or driven by pure intent to kill, humans certainly appear to sharks as “a big piece of protein worth going after,” Burgess notes. “Great whites are good smellers and tasters. As soon as they have human flesh in their mouth, they can probably tell that it’s not their normal prey. The question is: Does it make a difference to them?”
Sharks and humans are both apex predators, meaning there’s no one above us in our respective food chains. For us, this is thanks to our evolved brains and, for sharks, it’s their muscle power and finely tuned senses. Sharks can detect the presence of blood at the level of parts per billion from miles away. When humans enter the ocean or any environment ruled over by large apex predators, we lose our status as top dog. The documentary Grizzly Man was probably enough to convince most sane people that hanging out with a bunch of grizzly bears is going to ultimately result in one thing: your death. So it seems odd that people will willingly swim with sharks when they wouldn’t necessarily frolic among a pride of lions, but the sea and its inhabitants are powerfully seductive. There are commercial tourist companies that offer cage dives with great whites and one South African man, Mike Rutzen, the so-called Sharkman, literally rides on the backs of great whites with only a small spear gun as protection. But even someone who is terrible at math can figure out that the more time one spends in the ocean, the higher the chances of being attacked. “We, as humans, are invaders of their environment. We are interlopers — we don’t belong there,” Burgess reminds. “We aren’t owed the right of 100 percent safety, just as we aren’t guaranteed this when we go camping or on safari. These are wilderness activities and we have to accept the risk of this. Happily for us, sharks aren’t a major concern. Generally fewer than five humans per year are killed and that’s nothing compared to the billions of hours we spend in the water.”
Still, great whites retain their reputation of being man-eating brutes, despite massive evidence to the contrary. “Sharks don’t infest waters, they live in them,” Burgess says. “The negative connotation is still there. Those kinds of things are still in the mindset of people. We have a long way to go to convince people that sharks are a natural part of the environment and that they have their place.” The idea of a rogue shark — one that repeatedly attacks humans with seemingly endless bloodlust — first entered into the American consciousness during the frightening attacks in the summer of 1916, gruesomely chronicled in Michael Capuzzo’s “Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in An Age of Innocence.” That summer, on the East Coast, five people were attacked by a shark or sharks in the span of 12 days. Only one survived. The last three victims were attacked in Matawan Creek near the inland New Jersey town of Matawan, leading some to believe that the attacker was not a great white but a bull shark, as they can live in brackish or even freshwater. This real-life horror story inspired Peter Benchley to write his bestselling novel “Jaws.”
The great white isn’t even an aggressive species, relatively speaking, but “it is the largest of the carnivorous sharks and the consequences [of an attack] can be severe,” Burgess says. “Far more people survive than die in white shark attacks.” Still, we are just more familiar with them because they come close to shore and carry an intimidating Hollywood legacy. Burgess names the bull shark, the mako and the oceanic whitetip as three of the most aggressive shark species. Attacks on humans committed by oceanic whitetips and makos are rare because they are deep-water fish, swimming and hunting in the open ocean, although expanded tourism is creeping in on their territory. The adaptable bull shark is often found at the mouths of rivers and in shallow water. “Once a bull shark starts an attack, it stays,” Burgess says. “They have literally been known to chase humans out of the water; they have beached themselves in pursuits. We are more concerned about this kind of animal due to its behavior. It’s not as big as a white shark but it’s much more aggressive.”
Burgess, like most seasoned ichthyologists, never put much stock in the notion of the rogue shark until 2010 when five people were attacked and one of them killed in the Red Sea near a resort town in Egypt, causing officials to close the Sharm el-Sheikh beach. Two oceanic whitetip sharks were hunted down and killed immediately — presumed guilty, convicted and put to death with no real evidence connecting them to the attacks. Burgess was called in to work with local scientists and authorities to try to get to the bottom of these highly unusual attacks.
Ultimately, after intense research, diver surveillance and the review of images, Burgess and the team were able to identify a shark that was involved in at least two of the attacks. Markings on an oceanic whitetip shark as well as evidence that it had been in some of the dive areas confirmed its role in the incidents. As Burgess is quick to point out, any number of factors could have played into the shark’s (or sharks’) bizarre behavior. One of the most likely culprits was the dumping of sheep carcasses into the Red Sea. About a month before the attacks, an Australian commercial boat that was transporting sheep for sacrifice as part of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha dumped the animals overboard that didn’t survive the trip. This free water buffet could very well have changed the sharks’ eating habits, notes Burgess, making them think that whatever was on the surface was an easily acquired meal. “Rogue sharks are certainly not common and we would be badly misrepresenting sharks if we said most attacks were the result of rogues,” Burgess says. Some shark attacks remain mysteries and others take years of poring over evidence to properly solve.
While attacks on humans are certainly terrifying, they’re really nothing compared to what we do to sharks. It’s estimated that tens of millions of sharks (some estimates are as high as 78 million) are killed every year, many solely for their fins, which fulfill the global demand for shark fin soup. In some Asian countries, it is a sign of prestige to be able to afford the expensive delicacy. The work of a handful of nonprofits and shark advocates has brought about bans in some U.S. states and select Asian markets.
As a shark researcher for 40 years, Burgess is particularly sensitive to the precarious fate of these predators but he knows that a measured approach will work best. “If we go into the sea en masse, our footprints are going to be bigger in those places and it affects other animals and plants that call it their home. It’s inevitable that we’re going to make some changes but we should try to do what we can to reduce the changes and ensure the continued existence of the animals.” One thing seems to be certain regarding shark attacks, however, and that is that quick judgments carrying lethal sentences are not the answer — especially when it comes to endangered species. “It’s our choice to go into their world,” Burgess says. “Every time somebody drowns, we don’t shoot the ocean!”
Photos courtesy of The International Shark Attack File/Florida Museum of Natural History/University of Florida
Dawn patrol, the surf was up, and the 29-year-old was paddling for a wave in the early morning light on Oct. 29, 2011, at Marina State Beach just north of Monterey.
Then something hit him like a truck.
“I didn’t see it, I didn’t hear it, I didn’t have any idea. That first hit, it’s so powerful. It’s disorienting, but you know what’s happening.”
This was not a tentative exploration. This great white had made up its mind that Tarantino was on the menu for the day.
The shark, estimated at 16 to 17 feet in length, impaled Tarantino’s red surfboard with the sharp pointy teeth of its lower jaw while the serrated teeth of its upper jaw closed on his shoulder and head, striking a glancing blow to his face and neck, then settling on his arm.
It then dove down, deep and fast, carrying him toward the bottom.
Tarantino opened his eyes. “It was quiet, and I couldn’t hear anything. I was just conscious of myself being pulled. I didn’t see a single fin on it. I didn’t see its white underbelly. All I saw, when I saw it, was gray, like a wall.”
He kicked at the shark. The sides felt like cement. It either released him, or his arm popped free. He found his board and paddled ashore with his surfing partner, Brandon McKibben, of Salinas, his arm pumping blood into the water.
“I knew I was hurt, but I couldn’t feel any pain.”
He thought if he could just get to the parking lot, he’d be OK. He noticed suddenly a lot of people were on the beach.
“They helped me so much,” he said. One man who applied a tourniquet to his arm knew what to do because he had survived a great white shark attack himself.
Tarantino was flown to a hospital where his wounds were stitched. The bite had missed the carotid artery in his neck by a millimeter. If it had been nicked, he could have bled to death within minutes.
Now he lives on the beachfront in Monterey and works in a family business.
He eventually returned to surfing, although he doesn’t go in the early morning or evening, and he waits until there are a few other people in the water.
He has not gone back to Marina State Beach, which is known for having great whites.
“I think about it. I think about sharks. I try to reduce the chance that it could ever happen again because you hear all these statistics, because you hear that there’s a chance of 1 in 50 billion, whatever they say, that you’re more likely to get killed by bees. But I’m not around bee farms all day, I’m in the water all day.”
Lower Keys – A 58 year old man from Cape Coral was airlifted to Miami today after being severely bitten on the hand by a 4 foot Lemon shark.
Walter Kefauver and his 18 year old nephew, Cody Ellis, were on board an 18 foot Action Craft flats boat in the vicinity of Snipe Point when the incident took place. They had just caught a Bonefish and decided to try to catch a shark. They baited their hook with a piece of Barracuda and managed to hook a 4 foot Lemon shark.
After reeling it in to the boat, they were attempting to remove the shark from the hook when it lunged at Kefauver, biting deep into his left hand near his wrist.
Ellis called 911 for help, then brought his uncle into the Shark Key boat ramp where paramedics were waiting. Kefauver was taken to Lower Keys Hospital, then airlifted to Miami. Although the injury was not reportedly life threatening, the damage to his hand was extensive and the local hospital was not equipped to handle its treatment.
This happened in Belize but I'll bet that even in the US efforts are made to quiet shark attacks. Ain't gonna happen, though.
Ohio State student bitten by shark, asked to keep quiet
One Ohio State student’s visit to Belize over spring break ended with a shark bite, but she said some people are trying to get her to stay quiet.
Monika Wanis, a fourth-year in anthropology and psychology, said a shark bit her on her toe during a trip to Belize with Buck-I-Serv to give out shoes with an organization called One World Running. She’s recovering from the incident, but she said she believes officials from Buck-I-Serv are more concerned with protecting their name and reputation than they are about her well-being.
“In the email that they sent me, basically the first sentence said, ‘How are you feeling, I hope you got medical care,’ and then the remainder of the email said, ‘I hope you consider posting positive things on Facebook about One World Running and Buck-I-Serv because they do not want bad publicity and press.’ I didn’t put anything negative about Buck-I-Serv or One World Running on Facebook because it’s not their fault,” Wanis said. “I just want people to realize that they’re not out to make sure that I’m safe, they’re out to make sure that their name doesn’t get a bad rep.”
The bite took place on a snorkeling excursion.