Monthly Archives: December 2008

Shark Attack 28/12/08

A Monstrously Large White Pointer
I haven’t heard of a shark attack for a while, so I have yet to post a shark attack post. One of the things I’ve been tracking in the news is shark attacks and other  wild-life-encounters-one-would-regret articles. Today’s attack news comes from Perth, West Australia.

Brian Guest, 51, was in the ocean south of Perth, Western Australia, when locals reported “something pretty violent” out in the water.
His 24-year-old son raised the alarm as rescuers began a search for Mr Guest, described as an experienced swimmer and diver who knew the area well.
Australia has had one other fatal shark attack in 2008, off the eastern coast.
Surfer Peter Edmonds, 16, was taken by a shark off the coast of New South Wales at Ballina in April.

Witnesses and officials admitted that the latest incident, which happened near Rockingham, to the south of Perth, bore the hallmarks of a shark attack.
Mr Guest and his son were reportedly snorkelling for crabs in familiar waters when they were attacked.
“There was lots of talk among witnesses at the incident location about seeing fins in the water but we can’t yet say whether there was definitely a shark out there, though in all probability that’s what it is,” Mark Valentine, a local police inspector, told the Australian Associated Press.
“Something very traumatic and pretty violent has happened there and we are treating it as a probable shark attack,” he added.
Other witnesses reported that a shark had been spotted in the area during the search.
A family friend said Mr Guest’s son had been swimming close to his father at the time of the attack although he did not see it happen. He quickly ran ashore to raise the alarm.
He said the family was assuming the worst.

I did blog the Edmonds attack in April on my old blog. One of the things that is becoming apparent to me as I keep track of the shark attacks is that if we are in their habitat more and more, and their food is diminishing due to over fishing, it seems inevitable that we are seeing more shark attacks off our coasts.

One of the prevailing wisdoms of Australian beaches has been that shark attacks are rare, but for years I’ve thought this wisdom was apocryphal and under-researched. If you keep Google News open as I have in the last few years, there are at least 3-5 shark fatalities in a year off the coast of Australia.

Naturally, surfers and divers are most at risk, but both sports have seen a rise in participation rates so it stands as reasonable to expect these kinds of numbers.

Indeed, Shark spottings and sightings are up.

BEACHGOERS are being warned to be alert for sharks because of a surge in sightings at popular swimming beaches this summer.

So far this month, Surf Life Saving South Australia’s aerial patrol has spotted sharks 39 times along the state’s coastline – the same number for the entire summer of 2007-08 and more than 2005-06.

In the past week there have been 10 separate shark sightings off metropolitan beaches, including five yesterday.

Swimmers were evacuated from Grange beach yesterday after a 3m bronze whaler was sighted 20m offshore about 12.30pm.

The four other sightings were another at Grange, two at Henley Beach and one at Port Willunga.

There was also a shark sighting at Sydney’s Bondi Beach yesterday which saw around 1000 bathers evacuated from the water.

Bondi lifeguard Anthony Carroll was surfing before going on duty when he spotted the shark snacking on fish.

“I saw the dorsal fins and the side fins,” he said. “It looked like a jet-ski coming through a wave.”

He said the shark was almost black, had a thick girth and was between 2m and 2.5m.

Surf Life Saving SA state manager Shane Daw said the increased numbers could partly be attributed to more fish in Gulf St Vincent.

“We have noticed this year that there are more fish moving through the gulf and obviously that’s an attraction and therefore we’re asking for people to be conscious and aware that we are still getting a number of sightings,” he said.

“We ask them where possible to swim at patrolled beaches so that if there are sightings they can be alerted as soon as possible.

Andrew Fox, who is the son of shark attack victim Rodney Fox, said increased sightings could lead to greater risk of attacks.

Similar warnings of increased sightings before the 2004-05 summer were tragically followed weeks later by the death of Nick Peterson, 18, about 400m offshore from West Beach, SA.

Whatever the reason, the sharks are swimming closer to bathers, surfers and divers. There was even a sighting on Boxing Day at Bondi Beach.

Mr Carroll said he saw the shark about 50m from where they were paddling, in the middle of the bay off Bondi.

“I saw the dorsal fins and the side fins,” he said. “It looked like a jet-ski coming through a wave.”

He said the shark was almost black, had a thick girth and was between 2m and 2.5m.

The shark alarm sounded about 10.40am and bathers were kept from the water for almost 30 minutes as lifeguards, surf lifesavers and helicopters combed the area for further signs. But the shark was not seen again, a lifeguard said.

I’m placing the over-under for shark attack fatalities in Australian waters at 4 this summer.

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