It’s always tough to watch a shark struggle on a fishing line. But this video gives an interesting underwater look at a Tiger Shark attacking a hammerhead caught on a fishing line. This happened in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the fisherman, the tiger shark showed up only minutes after the hammerhead was hooked.
Tiger sharks are certainly top predators. They certainly prefer an easy meal and so a struggling shark on a fishing line is a great opportunity. Tiger sharks have a reputation of being the garbage cleaners of the ocean because they are known to eat just about anything. This goes to their large size, bold nature, and willingness to investigate any feeding opportunity that comes their way. Tiger shark attack on people do happen from time to time, but usually related to a person in the water unaware of the sharks presence.
So how do we safely dive in the presence of one of the sharks considered to be the most dangerous? And without the safety of a cage? It’s actually pretty simple. Sharks are not “mindless” and do not attack indiscriminately. Observing sharks in the wild allows divers to get a first hand look at their behavior, and their decision making. They are constantly sizing up the situation and evaluating their environment for feeding opportunities. The key is being aware of your surroundings, paying attention to the safety briefing, and never making yourself seem like a good opportunity for them.
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Tiger Beach is the best place on earth to dive with Tiger sharks. Calm, clear water, shallow dive sites, and loads of sharks make this dive site one of the best shark dives on earth!
Want more tips and tricks for diving with sharks? Take a look at these articles:
The number of shark attacks have dropped off significantly in 2016 compared with last year, which set a new record for most attacks in a single year. Shark attack expert and curator of the International Shark Attack File, George Burgess, attributes this at least in part to the dissipation of El Niño. In 2015, there were 59 recorded shark attacks in the United States, setting a new record.
“Warmer water temperatures promote the movement of tropical or sub-tropical animals up the coast, allowing them to go farther north and allowing them to stay longer before winter comes around,” Burgess added.
This translates to a higher chance for shark-human interaction in El Niño years since sharks inhabit coastal waters for a longer part of the year.
Over the past several years, the average number of shark incidents in the United States has been 53 per year.
For decades residents of Reunion, a small French Territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean, lived in relative harmony with the surrounding ocean and its inhabitants. However, since 2011, a rise in shark attacks has forced many to come to terms with the spike in fatal encounters with sharks and turn to science to address this unexplained phenomenon
Now, after years of conservation efforts, shark populations are bouncing back in the Pacific Ocean. That’s leading to more run-ins like the one that took place Sunday in Newport Beach.
“Basically two generations of Americans had unfettered access to the ocean. We eliminated all those predators 50 to 100 years ago and now that they are protected, they are coming back.”
There’s a lot we don’t know about white sharks, but thanks to scientists like Lowe who have studied their behavior and tracked their movements, we have some tips for avoiding shark encounters.
BE SHARK AWARE:
First, remember we share the waters with lots of creatures, sharks included. Since shark numbers were so low for so long, most of us aren’t use to looking for sharks. Keeping an eye out for them and thinking about risks is the first step in safety, says Lowe.
Sharks tend to avoid heavily populated beaches. Sure, choosing to swim with the crowds might disrupt your solitude, but it’ll likely keep sharks away as well.
AVOID EARLY MORNING AND NIGHT SWIMS:It’s nice to hit the waves in the early morning or evening, but if you are worried about sharks, you might chose another time of day. Lowe says these hours are when the greatest number of incidents occur.
DON’T SWIM WITH SEA LIONS:Sea lions are a favorite meal for white sharks. If you are in waters near a clan of sea lions, chances are good there’s a white shark near by. Same goes for seals. It’s best to swim somewhere else, so you don’t get seen as another tasty snack.
If you see a shark, you should watch its behavior, Lowe says.
If it’s aggressive, say circling or coming close to swimmers, people should leave the water and warn a lifeguard. However, in many cases, Lowe said sharks will simply swim off on their own.
North Carolina has been in the headlines this summer season for an unusual number of shark attacks in a short period of time. This spike occurred back in June, when there were 8 shark bites in just 2 weeks.
image from abc11.com
No one can say fur sure sure what species of sharks are responsible for the incidences. With somewhere around 50 differnet types of sharks known to inhabit North Carolina waters, 20 are considered relatively common. Of that 20, 10 or so—blacktip, spinner, tiger, and bull sharks, to name a few—have been implicated in biting people. The two most serious attacks, where swimmers lost limbs, were most likely due to bull or tiger sharks. The other six bites probably came from smaller species.
Several early reports have pointed to potential factors like record sea turtle nesting and high ocean salinity due to low rainfall drawing salt-loving sharks to the area. The sharks’ behavior could be due to “some shift in ecology,” says Dr. Joel Fodrie, an oceanographer who directs the shark research program at the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences, but it’s too soon to pinpoint the affects of those shifts with certainty. A change in wind patterns, for example, could be bringing shark treats like mullet or menhaden closer to shore.
Recent Preliminary Study:
UNC Charlotte professor Pamela Thompson had her graduate students go through a process of data mining in order to see if there were any information that could point towards a cause for the outbreak of attacks.
Paul Barrington,director of husbandry and operations at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, wants people to remember that sharks have more reason to be afraid of us than we are of them. Some 250,000 sharks are harvested for fins and meat every day across the planet, plunging shark populations into a steep decline they may never recover from, he says. “The sharks are in far more peril than us as humans.”
As you can imagine, news of the string of attacks sparked mass hysteria, on a national level, although it was not immediate. After the first incident, the state fish commissioner of Pennsylvania wrote in the Philadelphia Public Ledger:
Philadelphia Public Ledger
“Despite the death of Charles Vansant and the report that two sharks having been caught in that vicinity recently, I do not believe there is any reason why people should hesitate to go in swimming at the beaches for fear of man-eaters. The information in regard to the sharks is indefinite and I hardly believe that Vansant was bitten by a man-eater. Vansant was in the surf playing with a dog and it may be that a small shark had drifted in at high water, and was marooned by the tide. Being unable to move quickly and without food, he had come in to bite the dog and snapped at the man in passing.”
After the second incident however, the news made front page of major national newspapers including the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times, and Boston Herald. The result was an approximated $250K decline in tourism which amounts to over $5 million dollars at 2015 rates. Resort towns enclosed their beaches with steel nets but that did little to reassure the public.
The ensuing shark hunt was sanctioned by local governments all the way up to the federal level, in many cases offering significant rewards. Hundreds of sharks were captured and killed along the east cost in what has been described as the greatest shark hunt in history.
Mystery remains whether there was a single rogue shark responsible for the string of attacks, or if there were several animals involved. The two most likely culprits are the Great White Shark and the Bull Shark. Many believe that a great white was responsible, but since the final attacks all occurred in Matawan creek miles from the ocean where salinity levels are low, others feel it had to be a bull shark.
On July 14th, 2016, just days after the final attacks, a shark that was later identified as a great white, was captured in Raritan Bay, just a few miles from Matawan Creek. Michael Schleisser offered a heroic tale of the battle with the 7.5 foot shark, stating that it nearly sunk his boat before he was able to beat it to death with a broken oar. After getting the shark back to shore, the animal was identified as a great white shark and the contents of it’s stomach included “suspicious fleshy material and bones,” later found to be human remains. After this catch, there were no more attacks and the media proclaimed that the rogue shark had been killed. The only surviving photo of that shark is from the Bronx Home News.
There is likely to be continued debate over the number of sharks and species responsible for the incident. The International Shark Attack File officially reports the great white as the responsible shark. It’s director, George Burgess states:
“The bull draws a lot of votes because the location, Matawan Creek, suggests brackish or fresh waters, a habitat that bulls frequent and whites avoid. However, our examination of the site reveals that the size of the “creek,” its depth, and salinity regime were closer to a marine embaymentand that a smallish white clearly could have wandered into the area. Since an appropriate sized white shark with human remains in its stomach was captured nearby shortly after the bites (and no further incidents occurred), it seems likely that this was the shark involved in at least the Matawan fatalities. The temporal and geographical sequence of the incidents also suggests that earlier bites may have involved the same shark.”
The incident, now nearly 100 years old, single handedly changed the nations attitude toward sharks. Before the fatal shark attacks of 1916, it was not believed that sharks could or would attack healthy bathers near shore. In fact, some felt it attacks were more likely the result of a large sea turtle. Much has changed in public perception and scientific knowledge, and this incident had a major impact on that.
The summer blockbuster of 1975, Jaws, has captivated the imaginations of people worldwide. At the same time, it’s also nurtured our instinctual fear of the unknown, and resulted in an irrational terror of sharks. The movie, however, has some basis in reality, and here’s the story.
In a span of just under two weeks, the New Jersey coast was home to a series of fatal attacks in the summer of 1916. From July 1 – 12, four people lost their lives and another was seriously injured. The type of shark responsible, and the number of sharks involved, has been debated by experts since the event took place nearly 100 years ago.
Most now believe there could only have been two possible culprits: the great white shark and/or the bull shark. Although no one can say for sure, there are convincing arguments for both species. Whether or not there was just one rouge shark, or several responsible for the attacks, also remains a mystery, not likely to be solved.
The first incident took place in the seaside town of Beach Haven, just north of Atlantic City. A 25 year old man from Philadelphia, named Charles Vansant was vacationing with his family at the time. During the early evening of July 1, Vansant decided to go for a swim with his dog. Soon after, witnesses reported hearing him begin to shout and frantically swim to shore. The lifeguard on duty helped to pull him from the water and claimed that the shark followed him to shore. He was brought to the Engleside Hotel where he was staying. All the flesh from his left upper leg had been removed and he bled to death on the manager’s desk. The time was 6:45pm. Check out this clip from the Smithsonian Channel.
Forty miles north of the first shark attack, Spring Lake saw the next major event on July 6th. Also in the evening hours,Charles Bruder, 27 years old, was just a few hundred feet from shore when he was bitten in the abdomen and legs. Witnesses there reported that the water turned red with blood. Hearing the screams, 2 lifeguards made it out the Bruder in a lifeboat and recovered his mutilated body. He was dead before they reached the shore.
On July 12, two people were killed in Matawan Creek, another 30 miles north of the prior attacks. The first individual was Lester Stillwell, an 11 year old boy. He and a few friends were playing in the creek when they noticed a shadow in the water. At first, they thought it was an old log or piece of wood until the dorsal fin broke the surface. Realizing it was a shark, the boys fled the creek but Lester was pulled under by the shark before he was able to escape. His friends ran into town to get help and returned with several townspeople. One of those who came to investigate was Watson Stanley Fisher, a 24 year old local businessman. He dove into the creek to recover Lester’s body and was attacked by a shark in front of the others. He suffered devastating injuries to his right leg and died a few hours later at Monmouth Memorial Hospital. Lester Stillwell’s body was recovered just 150 feet upstream two days later.
The final attack occurred on the same day less than half of a mile from the prior attacks. This time was different only in that 14 year old Joseph Dunn survived the attack. The shark clamped down on his leg and a tug-of-war ensured between the shark and Joseph’s brother and friend. Fortunately he was pulled out of the water and rushed to St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick were he spent the next several months recovering from serious injuries.