a scene out of Jaws, this toothy giant surges from the choppy, grey
waters off Port Lincoln on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula. Dubbed
'UFO', it is lured out of the water with fish to get up close and personal
with a group of tourists. Christened by shark researchers, the 4.2m great
white appears a frightening predator as it searches for food in waters at
Dangerous Reef. But its dorsal fin reveals a vulnerability that could
lead to its death. Attached to the fin is a fishing line covered in seaweed.
This line, which cannot be removed without risk to the researchers, is
likely to lead to the loss of UFO's dorsal fin, or its life.
Andrew Fox, son of renowned shark expert Rodney Fox,
said great white sharks were under siege. "Over the past 10 years we've
seen a lot of sharks that have fishing line damage," he said. Great whites
remain somewhat of a mystery and there is little data on population but
experts say their numbers are declining. Mr Fox, who takes tourists to see
the sharks said that data showed up to 200 great whites were
inadvertently killed every year by commercial fishermen in Australian
waters. "And that figure is likely to be higher because these are just the
reported cases," he said.
Foxes are developing a photographic catalogue of great whites in the
region and are launching a satellite tagging program to gain an idea of
their traveling patterns.
A week following this article in the paper, a reader wrote in with this observation:
"As a fan of the great white shark for 16 of my 32 years, I was less
than impressed when I saw the photos of the shark nicknamed
UFO, taken off South Australia.
my opinion, this photo shows an apex predator being blatantly
mistreated and teased to react in a way that is not it's natural behavior.
I am not against ecotourism and cage diving with sharks. It is just that
there is, as with everything, a right and wrong way to go about it, and
that is the wrong way.
returned recently form a two week stay in Gansbaai, South Africa,
diving every day with these majestic animals. My guides and friends
were Michael Rutzen and his family. Michael was filmed recently free-
diving with great whites out of a cage, and he knows these sharks
team has a passion for the shark and took every precaution to
protect it, with cage designs with no corners or snags down to engine
covers to stop cuts from boat props.
never teased the sharks, nor did they force the shark to do anything
it did not want to do, and as a result I got to interact with calm sharks
within centimeters of my camera lens, showing none of the aggression
apparent in the picture published.
photos and video are testimony to the professionalism and
dedication the good people of Gansbaai have for protecting and studying
great whites while still maintaining a viable ecotourism trade.
wish more people could experience these sharks as I have, with a
chance to see and learn what I did from the people I met.
More people would change their opinions, I'm sure "
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