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White Shark off the coast of South Africa

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I apologize for the lack of articles this month. It's been a very hectic time. Stay tuned though, because a new article will be posted as soon as possible. 

Thanks for your patience,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

CITES proposal to protect 3 species of hammerhead sharks, oceanic white tip, porbeagle sharks, three species of fresh water stingray , and both species of manta ray. This is a huge step forward in the protection and conservation efforts for these animals! I'm so happy to finally see a positive gesture by officials. More to come on this subject soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Extreme Measures

                In the wake of several shark "incident" fatalities, the government in Western Australia has issued an order that any White shark coming within 1 km of popular beaches is to be slaughtered.   Great Whites have been a protected species in Australian waters for the past decade, but the laws protecting them have been reversed in a very knee-jerk reaction by the state Premier Colin Barnett and Fisheries Minister Norman Moore.

                Barnett is quoted as saying, “We will always put the lives and safety of beach-goers ahead of the shark. This is, after all, a fish—let’s keep it in perspective.”*1 The fact that Barnett has changed his view on White sharks so suddenly and taken such extreme measures to eradicate them is nauseating. It’s understandable that citizens in the Australian state would be in quite the uproar after such tragedies have taken place, but there are plenty of other solutions that need to be tried before allowing fishermen to cull an endangered species. The government could have tried to set up a Shark Spotter program first. Take Cape Town, South Africa for example. There have been established Shark Spotters on beaches for years now and the danger to beach-goers has dropped dramatically. The use of colored flags gives adequate notice to whether or not the water is safe to enter. If a shark is spotted, the white flag goes up and the beach is closed*2. Barnett could learn a few things from South Africa.
Photo courtesy of Julie Andersen*3www.sharkangels.com
                 Barnett and Moore announced that they will be using $7.2 million dollars (American currency) to implement new shark mitigation strategies that are aimed at reducing the risk of incident to swimmers, surfers, etc. This funding will pay for the Fisheries department to track, catch and kill any shark that gets too close to swimmers, as well as allowing them to study the animals, buy more jet skis for lifeguards and use GPS tracking equipment. Moore stated that the new policy will allow Fisheries officials to kill any Great White that presents an “imminent threat to people."*4  Bravo on providing additional funds for research on the Great White, but do they honestly think that this will prevent danger to people in the water? If sharks are coming closer to shore, there has to be a reason behind it. They are not cold blooded monsters hunting humans, as has been stated before. One would think that the government would investigate the reasoning behind the migration and put in place some sort of protection for both animal and human. Let’s be real, people are an “imminent threat” to people. Someone is more likely to get killed sitting at a stop light than from a shark bite. All this policy is doing is allowing an already vulnerable creature to be sentenced to death without a fair trial. Fishermen will not use restraint and only hunt the sharks swimming close to beaches, they’re going to kill any shark they see and get away with it. Barnett and Moore should take a long look at the facts and use their brains before putting in place a policy as asinine as this one is. 

                  In closing, I'd like to leave you all with some tips from my fellow Shark Angels on how you can help fight to save sharks. For the full article, please visit www.sharkangels.com. Thanks, guys!

                 " 1. Become an Angel: Earn your wings and become a Shark Angel, serving as a spokesperson and local campaign activist.
                  2. Do not consume or purchase shark: It isn’t just the soup. Do not eat shark steaks or meat, do not eat imitation crab, lobster or shrimp (it often contains shark), and do not eat white fish, rock salmon or the other names for it.
                  3. Be aware, informed consumers: Know what you're buying. A lot of times shark is labeled as other types of fish, or even concealed in the products that you buy.
                  4. Take your business elsewhere: Do not support any merchant selling shark or ray products, including shark fin soup or shark steak. Tell them your concerns and why you're boycotting their business.
                  5. Speak out and defend sharks: Always report, to the proper authorities, anyone you witness mal-aligning or abusing this incredibly valuable animal..."


Friday, September 28, 2012

Shark Savers

     I recently joined a group called Shark Savers, and I found this link on their webpage. It was so amazing that I had to share it with you all.

     Christina Teng is a diver that decided to take action and raise money for shark conservation. How does she do this?  She sends a hand-made felt shark to every person who donates on her webpage. 

     Here's the link to the article about Christina, and also a link so that you can donate too!


To donate to Christina’s fundraiser and receive a felt animal, visit

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Summer of the Shark

       There seems to be an abundance of headlines recently about the Great White sharks off the coast of Cape Cod. Fox News is stating that the population explosion of the Grey Seal in recent years is to blame for the sharks being sighted so close to shore*1. Families have seen "brutal attacks" by sharks on seals from their boats and watched in horror as the sharks devoured their catch. There has even been a confirmed Great White shark attack on a human swimmer. Summer of the Shark? Most definitely. Is it something to be feared? Absolutely not.

         Authorities have known for some time that there were increasing numbers of White sharks off the coast of Massachusetts due to the ever-growing grey seal population.  Still beaches have remained open and swimmers allowed in the water just feet from where seals were congregating on sandbars and beaches. The July 30th attack on swimmer Chris Meyers occurred as he was swimming with his son out to a sandbar some 500 feet off the shore of Ballston Beach*2. According to the victim, he was having trouble swimming out to the sandbar, so he decided to turn around and head back to shore. As he turned, he felt immense pressure on his left foot. It was later confirmed that the bite marks were consistent with that of a White shark. It's understandable that people would be afraid, especially after a human was attacked. But the fact of the matter remains, if the shark really wanted to harm Mr. Meyers, or even eat him, it would have. Sharks can generate up to 40,000 pounds per square inch of pressure in a single bite*3. Clearly if the shark was giving more than an exploratory bite, Mr. Meyers would not be leaving the hospital with only 47 stitches.

          Sharks use their mouths for everything from eating to investigating. They obviously don't have hands, so the only thing that they can do is bump or bite. This does not mean that they are something that we should be terrified of or try to eradicate. There are a few simple steps that every swimmer or diver can take if they want to avoid sharks. First, avoid areas where there are large populations of marine mammals in the water close to shore. Numbers of sharks accompany other marine mammals, such as dolphins or seals. This will ensure that there are no cases of mistaken identity when it comes to the shark’s next meal. Second, avoid swimming at dusk or dawn. It is documented that most sharks prime hunting times are at sunrise and sunset. Also, be aware of the visibility when you are in the water. If the water is murky, it is less likely that you will be able to see a shark if there is one close by.  And lastly, never swim alone. Sharks are less likely to be interested in groups of swimmers rather than a single swimmer. People swimming together seem like more of a threat to a lone shark*5. That being said, if you insist on swimming in waters that are known to contain high numbers of sharks, acknowledge that you are inviting yourself into their home. The sharks are not responsible for their curiosity if you have invaded their space. 

            There has to be some level of respect shown toward these marine giants. Human beings spend a lot of time in coastal waters all across the globe. Humans pose the greatest threat to sharks, not the other way around. Fishermen slaughter millions of sharks every year, but according to National Geographic, sharks only kill an estimated 5-15 people world-wide each year*4. That is a huge difference! There were figures published by the New York City Health Department stating that for every one person bitten by a shark around the world each year, 25 people are actually bitten by New Yorkers*5. I don’t know about you, but I think that should count for something. 



5. Carwardine, Mark, and Ken Watterson. The Shark-watcher's Handbook: A Guide to Sharks and Where to See Them. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2002. Print.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Letter To You

   Dear Readers,

     First, let me start by saying thank you for taking the time to view my blog. For those of you who don't know, my name is Heather. I am an independent researcher and an avid shark enthusiast. Like most people, I am a loyal Shark Week viewer, but in the last few years I have decided to take the jump from simply watching White sharks on the screen to learning about them in the wild. I am a huge fan of photographer and White shark pioneer, Chris Fallows. His work has inspired me to take a proactive approach when it comes to the protection, and public understanding, of these animals.

     The purpose of this blog is to not only document findings from researchers like myself in the field, but also to provide personal insight on these beautiful creatures. I hope to gain and share knowledge on the behavior, mating and migration patterns, and eating habits of the White sharks off the East Coast of the U.S. I will also share any information I gain on other species of shark. I realize that I cannot change every individual's perception of these animals, and that there will always be stereotypes, but maybe by providing as much information as possible I can save a few shark lives--and maybe even change a few minds in the process.

     Again, thank you for viewing my blog. Stay tuned for daily news and updates on The Great White Watch.


  Heather Williams