Shark Attack 13/01/09

More Sharks, More People, More Attacks

Since I last wrote about sharks, there was a 48 hour span in which 3 separate attacks were reported in 3 locations.

The first came in from Tasmania.

Mr Mundy was still in a state of disbelief when he spoke at the St Helens District Hospital in Tasmania, describing graphically how a casual surf at Binalong Bay almost ended in tragedy.

“We were just surfing and she was probably five or 10 metres out in front of me,” he said.

“The next thing I know she screamed and disappeared under the water.

“She came up and was fighting the shark and hitting it and screaming: ‘Help me, help me, help me.’ We didn’t see it coming.

“It dragged her around a bit and then she went down and under again. I was really worried. There was blood all in the water.

“It brought her up to the top again and I paddled over to her and tried to push it with the board and tried to hit it but I don’t think it felt it really. It was a pretty big shark – a monster.

“It would have had two goes at her. She’s lucky she didn’t lose her leg.

“Hannah kept a really good head on her – kept it together.

“It grabbed her surfboard and dragged that under and she still had her leg rope on and it dragged her under again.

“The shark started circling us and coming up underneath us and when it did that we stopped and turned to face it so we could push it out of the way or poke it in the eye or something.

“She kept it together. There was blood everywhere and I didn’t know whether it was going to try and bite her again.

“Then a wave came along and I said ‘No matter how weak you are, try and hang on. This wave is going to save our lives.’

“And then we caught that wave to the beach, dragged her up on the beach and saw her leg had been mauled.

“It was pretty deep, in behind her knee was deep. You could almost see the bone. It was pretty horrible really.

“We were lucky the water was cold. It slowed her heart rate so when we pulled her out of the water the leg wasn’t spurting blood everywhere.

Pretty grim. That one was most likely a Great White, but it’s hard to say for sure.  The next came from up the NSW Coast.

Jonathon Beard, 31, of Brisbane, was surfing with friends at Fingal Beach about 9.30am when he was bitten on his upper left thigh. Surfers said he was sitting on his board near a group of dolphins when the shark attacked.

“He was screaming, ‘Shark’, then we saw the white water and the turbulence and the pigment in the water [and] quickly realised it was serious,” one of Mr Beard’s friends told Channel Seven.

Three of them paddled back to shore where they used a surfboard leg rope to stem the bleeding until paramedics arrived. The RACQ CareFlight helicopter and the NSW Ambulance Service were called to the scene. Kang Lim, a doctor who treated Mr Beard, said the bite was about 40 centimetres long, from the surfer’s knee to his hip, and five to 10 centimetres deep.

That one was likely a Bull Shark too. Down on the South Coast of NSW came this story.

The man was snorkelling under the Windang Bridge on Lake Illawarra when what is believed to have been a bull shark bit him on the leg, about 10.50am.

He was swimming in a school of fish when he noticed a brown shadow behind him. His leg was then bitten, NSW Ambulance spokeswoman Fiona Kruit said.

“He’s punched this brown shadow and it’s let go,” she said.

The man told paramedics he thought it was a bull shark.

Ms Kruit said a few bull sharks had been spotted in the area recently in search of bait fish.

“He has 40-odd puncture wounds to his calf but they haven’t caused any muscle or tissue damage and he’s got some abrasions to his right fist where he’s punched the shark,” she said.

Hmmm. I think The Mythbusters tried busting the ‘myth’ of the guy who poked the shark in the eye (ep.0608).

Can you poke a shark in the eye when it has you in its grip?: PLAUSIBLE- It will take too long to find the eye. You would be dead. But you could poke the eye if in the right position.

Except this guy Jsaon Cull says he did it.

Mr Cull said he saw a dark shape in the water and thought it was a dolphin.

“It was much bigger than a dolphin when it came up. It banged straight into me – I realised what it was, it was a shark,” he told reporters from his hospital bed.

“I sort of punched it, and it grabbed me by the leg and dragged me under the water.

“I just remember being dragged backwards underwater. I felt along it, I found its eye and I poked it in the eye, and that’s when it let go.”

Not exactly busted, if somebody actually did it. 🙂

More hilariously, Vic Hislop, famed shark hunter and model for Captain Quint in ‘Jaws’ chimed in with his theory.

…shark hunter Vic Hislop, who told Macquarie Radio that 200 years of over-fishing in Australian waters had turned the attention of big sharks to “gentler” prey such as dugong, turtles and dolphins.

“That’s what’s in their stomach now every day,” Mr Hislop said.

“As the turtles disappear, which is inevitable, and the dugong herds disappear, humans are next in line on the food chain.

“It will definitely get worse.”

NSW Department of Primary Industries shark biologist Vic Peddemor said Mr Hislop’s theory was wrong and attacks on humans were almost always a case of mistaken identity.

“It’s complete and total rubbish,” Dr Peddemor said from the Gold Coast, where he was waiting to examine shark attack victim Jonathon Beard.

“Most species of shark have evolved over millions of years to eat very specific prey items.

“There are only a handful of sharks capable of eating large marine mammals and of the ones that come close it’s the tiger shark, the bull shark and of course the great white.

“They are designed to eat marine mammal fat and blubber and we don’t have that.

“Even our blood is very different to that of marine mammals so they haven’t evolved to have the taste for either our body tissue or blood.”

Despite three attacks on humans in the past two days, Dr Peddemor said shark attacks were still very rare considering the “millions of man hours” we spent in the water.

“Occasionally somebody will get bitten and it’s inevitably a case of mistaken identity,” he said.

The good news is nobody’s dead. In my humble opinion, the over-and-under  for Australian Shark fatalities is still 4 deaths.

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