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White Shark off the coast of South Africa

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