The Shark That Wouldn't Leave : A Great White Shark Jumps Onto A Research Vessel
If asked to think of a great white shark jumping onto a boat - most people will conjure up the image from the final scene's in the classic movie Jaws. However, for one research vessel this week, this scene was no hollywood special effect. It was real.
The research vessel Cheetah was conducting a population study of great white sharks off of the infamous Seal Island (so named because of the large population of seals that inhabit it, and the great whites that prey on them). It was around this island that great white sharks were first reported to breach the water in a hunting tactic to ambush the seals. Since then, numerous research projects have studied this peculiar behavior.
But never has a shark jumped onto a boat before.
The crew of the research vessel where chumming the water (throwing in a mixture of blood, ground up fish, and sardines) in order to attract the shark population nearby for observation when, suddenly, a 1,100 pound shark jumped right next to the boat and landed with half its body on the onboard.
The Shark That Wouldn't Go Away
The crew of the Cheetah hoped that the thrashing animal would simply slip off of the stern and back into the water. But the animal's movements only made the situation worse as it became stuck in a small section on the stern of the boat. The writhing shark also succeeded in severing the boats fuel lines ...
A fellow research vessel came to the aid of the Cheetah and their strange predicament. They tied a rope around the tail of the great white and tried to pull it off of the stern to no avail. The crew of the Cheetah poured water over the shark's gills to keep the animal alive as the boat was towed back into the harbor.
A fishing boat was then called upon to lift the shark off of the deck of the Cheetah using its crane. It was successful in getting the shark back into the water, but only a half hour later, the shark was found beached on land just a short distance away. The researchers again came to the rescue, walking the weakened shark out into deeper water, but the shark was just too weak to swim away on its own. The rescuers decided to tie ropes to the shark and tow it back out to sea with another boat. Once out in the open ocean, the shark was able to regain its strength and swim away.
Thankfully, no humans or sharks were harmed during this entire event.
An Unlikely Attack
The researchers say that this was most likely a mistake by the shark, and not a conscious attack. Great white sharks are not the evil, man-eating menace the movies make them out to be. They are beautiful and wonderful creatures that have remained unchanged for 65 million years. As our understanding of them grows, so does our acceptance of them.
The researches believe that they were very lucky, though. If they had been on one of their smaller boats - and they have carried out similar projects on smaller boats before - it is likely that the event would have capsized their boat in the dangerous waters.
This is a "whale story" of a shark that those involved are likely to tell for many years to come ...