Videos: Strategies Used by Sea Turtles to Avoid Being Eaten by Tiger Sharks

Did you ever wonder how we have any sea turtles left in our oceans?  Surely as the years have passed these slow moving tasty morsels of goodness would have nearly all be consumed by the the more agile and powerful shark. I mean really, other than a hard shell (which tiger sharks have little problem sawing through with their well suited teeth), what chance do sea turtles have?

Tiger shark attempts to eat sea turtle

Well it turns out, sea turtles have some clever defenses that it can use to help avoid being taken by a shark.

Firstly, when approached by an inquiring shark, the sea turtle will often present it’s full, flat shell towards the shark.  Instead of being horizontal like a flat cookie which the shark can easily bite through, it will stay in a half-roll type position and the shark will not be able to open it’s mouth wide enough to bite into the large broad surface of the shell.

Tiger shark attempts to bite sea turtle but turtle uses defensive strategy.

Secondly, the turtle will stay very close to the shark and will keep swimming in a tight circle around the shark.  The shark will not be able to match the tight radius and thus will not be able to latch onto the turtle.

This informative video was posted by skyler thomas and is just over a minute in length.  The short clip was taken from a full episode which can be viewed here.

Photo: Drone GoPro Image of Great White Shark Near Paddleboarders in Australia

Photo: Drone GoPro Image of Great White Shark Near Paddleboarders in Australia

GoPro Drone aerial image of great white shark near paddleboarders in Kilcare Australia
GoPro image of shark near paddleboarders by Tom Caska
GoPro Drone aerial image of great white shark near paddleboarders in Kilcare Australia
Zoomed in -GoPro image of shark near paddleboarders by Tom Caska

Earlier this week, Tom Caska from Sydney Australia, fired up his phantom drone to capture some aerial shots of his brother Andrew Caska who was paddleboarding with friends.  They were boarding about 50 meters off shore at Kilcare, which is about 30 nautical miles north of Sydney in New South Wales, when Tom captured this stunning image at around 5:30pm in the evening.

Tom believes that the shark is a great white and estimates its size at around 4 meters (13 foot) but noted it is hard to judge as he had a fish eye lens on his Go Pro camera.  For comparison, his brother Andrew is 6′ 2″ and is on a 9′ 6″ board (Andrew is on the red paddleboard).  The person closest to the shark is on 6 and a half foot surf board.

GoPro Drone aerial image of great white shark near paddleboarders in Kilcare Australia
Closer view – GoPro image of shark near paddleboarders by Tom Caska

Tom told us that at this time of year, great whites are migrating south and it is common for them to be spotted in the area.  As you can see in the photo, this shark looks to be in pursuit of a small school of fish which Tom believes to be salmon.

His brother never spotted the shark and only saw a bit of swirl in the water.  It wasn’t until Tom later showed him the photo that his brother learned what photobombed his pic.

Tom is starting up a drone photography business, Aerolens, and he can be reached at info@aerolens.com.au for any inquiries.

28-Year-Old Surfer Bitten Three Times by Shark in New Zealand

New Zealand police report that a surfer was bitten by a shark on February 7th, 2014 off Porpoise Bay Beach near Curio Bay.

The 28-year-old victim was on his board approximately 50m from the beach when he was attacked Friday evening at around 8:20pm.  He sustained three bite wounds to his leg ranging from his calf to his thigh.

He was transported by helicopter to Southland Hospital were he was listed in stable condition.

Shark attack at Curio Bay, New Zealand

Following the attack, signs were put up in the vicinity of Porpoise Bay requesting people not enter the water until further notice from the Department of Conservation.

Several NZ news organizations are reporting that the shark involved was a great white (white pointer) but none have provided any source for the statement.

This marks the second shark incident in New Zealand waters this year.  Last month a spearfisherman sustained a shark bite near Garden Bay.  Read story here.

UPDTATE: 02/09/2014
• The surfer has been identified as Darren Mills, a British citizen.
• Experts believe it was a 9′ Great White  responsible for the attack.
Read more at the Daily Mail and Stuff.

Swimmer in Bora Bora Bear Hugs Shark and Goes For a Ride

We are continuing to see an increase in the number of videos coming out showing people riding sharks. So many in fact that we now have an index for it on the blog: Riding a Shark.

The early videos were usually put out by individuals who had years of experience around sharks.  In most of those cases, they would acknowledge that there was risk involved but they were able to minimize that risks due to their understanding of shark behavior and their ability to read the animals.

But this new growing trend is with ordinary folks spotting a shark and then deciding to have a go.  In the video below which just came out, vacationers in Bora Bora were having a good time swimming with some lemon sharks when a few of the swimmers decided it was time to go for a ride (22 second mark).  But the one guy shown in the video takes it to a whole new level when he swings around to the bottom of the shark, gives it a bear hug and and hangs on as the shark swims.  With his head just below the shark’s mouth, he rides it for several seconds before finally letting go (28 second mark).

According to Grant Murdock who posted the video, he too rode a shark and noted that the sharks didn’t appear to mind and that it was like an “outer body experience.”

Specifically he described the encounter as such, “I wish somebody was able to record my swim of this nature, but sadly i did not have the presence of mind to record myself doing this same action. The Sharks were so gentle and accepting of our advances. They didn’t seem to mind at all that we were riding for free. It was as close to an out of body experience that I have ever felt. Thank you Sharky”

So what do you think, is the growing practice of riding sharks going too far?  Weigh in on our Facebook page.

Our ‘shark rider’ story posted in Slate Magazine.

Sperm Whale Explodes in Faroe Islands

Sperm whale explodes in Faroe Islands

In the bizarre video of the week department, we have this one from the Faroe Islands featuring…you guessed it, an exploding whale.

Apparently this sperm whale died of natural causes in the Faroe Islands. When a man was attempting to open it up by its stomach, a large decomposition gas pocket erupted nearly showering him with whale innards. We can only imagine that the smell was much worse than the visual.

The Faroe Islands is known for having an annual whale hunt called the grindadráp in Faroes where nearly a 1,000 long-finned pilot whales are killed for their meat and blubber.  The hunt is considered by many Faroese to be an important part of their history and culture but many other people view it is barbaric and unnecessary.

Video posted by Johan Joensen and is 14 seconds in length.  Photo is a screenshot.
PS.  As the title indicates, it’s gross.

Surfer Killed in Shark Attack at Gracetown Beach Western Australia

  • Lefthanders Beach following the shark attack – by ABC/Ruslan Kulski

    Shortly after 9:00am on Saturday November 23, 2013, 35-year-old Chris Boyd, a father of two, was killed by a great white shark while surfing at Lefthanders Beach near Gracetown, Western Australia.

    Gracetown – well known for its surfing and nearby wine production – is approximately 160 miles south of Perth.

    According to a report with ABC, the shark had made contact with another board before attacking the victim.

    The West Australian is reporting that a 3m (10 foot) great white was responsible and that the victim lost his left arm and part of his right leg in the attack. Police believe he died instantly.

    The beach was closed and the Department of Fisheries issued an imminent threat order dispatching officers to attempt to catch the shark.  No decision has been made at this point on whether the shark would be killed following any capture.

    This marks the third fatal shark attack in Gracetown in the last ten years.

    News Accounts:
    -Shark kills man, 35, at popular surfing spot in Western Australia – ABC
    -Fatal shark attack at Gracetown – The West Australian
    -Man killed in shark attack at Lefthanders Beach near Gracetown – Perth Now
    -Man dies following Gracetown shark attack – WA Today
    Shark kills male surfer at Gracetown Beach, Western Australia – news.com.au

    EDIT 11/24:
    – Queensland shark attack victim a ‘legend’ – Brisbane Times
    – Shark attack victim remembered as a family man – The New Zealand Herald
    – Gracetown surfers and business operators are demanding the Government start hunting and killing white pointers terrorising WA’s South West coast. – The West Australian.

Photos Emerge of Great White Being Gaffed and Landed in South Africa

Anglers land great white shark in South Africa

Photos of two fishermen apparently landing & gaffing a great white shark in the Mossel Bay area of South Africa is causing a growing outcry in social media circles.

Since 1991, it has been illegal in South African waters to catch or even attempt to catch great whites. If an angler accidentally hooks a white, he must release it as soon as he identifies it as a great white.  This typically means cutting the line.

The photos were apparently taken a couple of weeks ago and were posted on Facebook and on the forum Sealine, a South African angling and boating forum, on November 16th. From that moment, the circulation of the photos spread as they were shared on various social networks.
Anglers land great white shark in South Africa

In scanning the two Sealine threads discussing the photos (White shark caught…not cool! and Nico Munro and John Winter of Mossel Bayd killing great white shark) , it is quite clear that all the contributors feel that the two anglers were wrong and should be prosecuted if the facts bear out. There is some disagreement as to whether the shark was ultimately killed but several posters pointed out that the way the shark was gaffed and dragged onto the rocks most certainly assured that it would not survive if they indeed released the shark. [Note: we are not directly naming anyone in the photos as we have not confirmed their identity.]

Anglers land great white shark in South Africa

The release of these photos is drawing comparisons to the Leon Bekker incident where he was photographed in March 2011 landing a great white on the rocks in Mossel Bay (see below).  The photos of Mr. Bekker were widely circulated and there was a strong public outcry calling for his prosecution.  Mr Bekker was tried and found guilty.  He was sentenced to one year in jail or being fined R120,000. The sentence was suspended for five years.

Several shark conservationist organizations have stated that they have submitted these news photos along with the supposed angler’s names to the Department of Environment asking that they open an investigation.  It is unclear at this time if any action has been taken.

Quite a few of the posters on Sealine are also recreational shark fisherman.  Many have weighed in saying that they follow all fishing regulations and adhere to the best practices when landing legal sharks. Their concern is that these images will hurt honest fishermen by helping drive a new wave of restrictive shark fishing regulations. BlouwaterBaair states, “It’s idiots like these two that make fishing for the rest of the community a nightmare.”

One poster, Graig V. cautions that everyone should keep their emotions in check and not use these photos as an excuse to have a trail by media. He adds that “this must be taken to court and sorted out there. Stirring up emotions helps nothing and if anything will get somebody to do something silly and get the whole case thrown out of court.”

Leon Bekker lands great white in South Africa – March 2011

Others argue that having the photos widely circulated will help create pressure on the authorities to take action.

No matter what develops from these photos, it is clear from reading the Sealine forums that both the anglers and conservationists view the laws and regulations protecting our natural resources as important. There is mutual agreement that if someone chooses not to adhere to the law, then there needs to be consequences.

And whether any consequences do materialize in this case, that remains to be seen.  But Frank22 reminds us that no matter what happens here, “eventually KARMA catches up to everyone.”

Photos are courtesy of Robin Flood.

Did the Famed Great White Mary Lee Have Part of This Dolphin for Lunch?

To many people who live along the eastern coast of the US, Mary Lee has become a bit of a celebrity.  For folks who don’t know, Mary Lee is a 3,500 pound, 16 foot great white that was tagged with a satellite tracker last year by OCEARCH.  Since that time, the world has been closely watching her movements.

Mary Lee’s location in proximity to where dead dolphin washed up on shore

What has made Mary Lee so fascinating compared to the other east coast tagged sharks is that she appears to enjoy staying close to shore in the winter months.  During the summer, she moved farther out to sea off the GA/NC border.  But as soon as the water temps began to drift down, she came to life and began moving up the coast towards North Carolina.

Last month, she spent a few days in the Cape Fear region and made a very close pass by Carolina Beach, NC and reportedly was spotted by an area fisherman.

Now fast forward to yesterday, Mary Lee pinged very close to shore in St. Helena Sound in South Carolina. According to area fishermen who know the waters, that area is known for having abundant fish life and is 50+ feet deep in many spots.

Dolphin bitten in half from apparent shark bite washed up on shore at Folly Beach
Dolphin bitten in half by apparent shark. – Pic by Mark Gray

Today, Mark Gray posted a photo on the Beaufort Online Facebook page of this dolphin which had washed up on the beach at Hunting Island Lighthouse which as you can see, is very close to where Mary Lee had pinged.

Of course there are many sharks in the sea and any large shark could be responsible for this bite but you have to admit, the timing of it all is rather intriguing.

We should note that numerous dolphins along the east coast of the U.S. have been dying due to an outbreak of a measles-like virus called morbillivirus. The deaths began in the Northeast but have been spreading farther south and just last month, a infected dolphin washed up on the beach at Hilton Head, SC.

It does make us wonder if this dolphin possibly had the virus and was therefore easy prey? And if it did have the virus, did that impact the shark from not consuming the entire dolphin?  Did it possibly affect the taste of the meat?  Lots of questions, yet we don’t have any answers.  But fortunately, OCEARCH is attempting to get more information on the death of the dolphin and we’ll post an update here if more information comes out.

EDIT 11/08: We received word from Walt who runs Beaufort Online and he advised us that the photo was actually from Folly Beach and was taken on 11/01/2013.  For some reason, the photo was posted to his page with erroneous information.  

Sooo, with that said, it would appear that Ms. Mary Lee is most likely exonerated from this horrific mammal crime. We apologize for any inconvenience or nightmares this story may have caused and we extend our thanks to Walt for setting the record straight.

Also, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reached out to OCEARCH and confirmed that there were many ‘half’ dolphins found in the area in the past few weeks which led OCEARCH to ask on their Facebook page if there could be other white sharks migrating through that area? 

Orca Kills Great White 30 Miles Off the San Francisco Coast

In 1997, a group of whale watchers off the San Francisco, California coast near the Farallon Islands witnessed an amazing event, a great white shark being killed by an orca.

Although various videos have been available of the event, National Geographic is currently airing a special called “A Night of Exploration: Killer Whale vs. Jaws” and they are showing the original footage in HD quality (see below) which is by far, better quality than any of the other videos out there.

The video is mixed with both above & below the water footage including some reenactment. Noteworthy time periods: Actual attack occurs at 2:02.  Actual underwater footage starts at 4:05.

Screenshot: Killer whale kills Great White

A point of interest not mentioned in the video is that following the attack, all the great whites disappeared from the area.

In a 2004 article by National Wildlife titled “Showdown at Sea,” they note that from September to December this rocky island attracts thousands of seals and sea lions which in turn brings about one of the world’s largest congregations of great white sharks. This annual ritual has been observed by researches since 1989.

But following the orca attack on October 4, 1997, all the great whites disappeared and did not return until the following year.  The seals and sea lions where present as normal and researches noted no other factors that would have driven away the great whites.

Orca consumes great white liver

This marked the first time researchers had not observed any great whites in the Farallon Islands area during this time frame.  Was it just a coincidence?  Apparently not, because in 2000 another orca in almost the same area of the 1997 attack was observed consuming a large piece of white flesh which was not believed to be from a mammal.  And just like in 1997, following this killer whale attack, no great whites were observed for the remainder of the season.

But most shocking about the 2000 attack is that approximately six months later, a tagged great white named Tipfin who frequented the Farallon Islands had his tag pop off which provided researcher Schulman-Janiger with a surprising minute-by-minute account of Tipfin’s movements immediately after the attack.

“On the hour of the attack, Tipfin abruptly dropped to 500 meters and headed west,” says Pyle. “He swam all the way to Hawaii.”  Coincidence?  You decide.

Video: Tiger Shark Eats Sea Turtle at Great Barrier Reef

One of the tiger shark’s favorite foods is the sea turtle and they have adapted an efficient yet ruthless method for consuming the hard shell delicacy.

The tiger sharks will systematically bite off each flipper thus rendering the turtle immobile and helpless.  At this point, the shark can consume the remaining core by using it’s heavy jaws and serrated teeth to tear through the hard shell.

Although both green sea turtles and loggerheads are on the tiger shark’s diet, tiger sharks tend to consume five times the number of loggerheads then the greens.  In attempting to learn why, researchers have discovered that green turtles spend much less time breathing at the surface compared to loggerheads which will often linger on the surface for extended periods. Sea turtles are most vulnerable to tiger shark attacks while on the surface.

In addition, greens are faster and quicker than the loggerhead thus making them a more challenging target.

In this video from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia it does not state what type of turtle is being consumed but from the best we can tell, it looks to be a green turtle based on the smooth shell as visible in the still photos at the end of the video.

The video was posted on Vimeo by Julia Sumerling and is 2:10 in length.  Julia gives credit to Gunda Streckenbach & Steve Eckrich for their photographs and she also extends a special thanks to Mike Ball Dive Expeditions.
NOTE: Here is an earlier video showing another tiger shark consuming a sea turtle.