Sunday, January 29, 2006

GIANT SHARK WATCH: When the fish is bigger than your boat

New Zealand news on Beach alert for monster shark
Fresh sightings of a monster great white shark close to North Taranaki's shoreline have prompted a warning to swimmers.

The Conservation Department warning comes after two more close encounters with the shark, estimated to be six metres long.

Fishermen on a charter boat got the fright of their lives when the great white swam directly under them last Friday. And two competitors in a yacht race off Port Taranaki watched in horror as the shark – its fin clearly out of the water – swam between their much smaller craft.


"He had time to take a very good look at the shark. His boat is seven metres long, and he was able to use that to estimate the size of the shark as up to six metres. He estimated its width to be well over one metre, and its dorsal fin was at least 500 millimetres high."

Warnings issued over shark sighting | NATIONAL | NEWS |

A huge six metre great white shark has been sighted on five separate occasions off the the coast of Taranaki.

The Department of Conservation is warning people not to hunt the shark, which was most recently sighted by two aspiring young sailors who say the fish was bigger than their boat.

Leah Monchuer and Nicola Trudgen were practising for the World 420 Class competition when they were alerted to the massive shark.

"Our friends...came over and they were like, 'shark shark shark'," says sailor Leah Moncheur.

Fellow sailor Nicola Trudgen says: "We turned back and looked and there was just this huge black thing in the water."

The girls say they reckon it was about the size of a car.

The sighting of the shark was the fifth since November, but it did not deter surfers at New Plymouth's Fitzroy Point on Friday.

"The fact that there's been several sightings by kayakers and surfers and they're still here to tell the tale indicates (the sharks are) not out here to eat people," says Department of Conservation shark expert Clinton Duffy.

It is unusual to see such a mature female so near to New Zealand shores says DOC and the department is now warning people not to go on a great white shark hunt.

Leading Taranaki sport fisherman Kevin Moratti is also calling for other fishers not to harm the shark.

He says killing sharks is bad for fishing as seal numbers increase, putting more pressure on fish stocks.

It's behind you: How to best fight off a shark

# Get out of the water ASAP
# If you can't, head for the sea floor or hide in reeds
# If cornered by a shark, hit it hard on the nose with an object
# Avoid using bare hands and feet if possible
# Target the gills and eyes which are sensitive
# Never, ever 'play dead'

Decade on decade the number of shark attacks on people has increased.

However, Mr Burgess says, this is only because the number of humans spending more time in the water, and in deeper waters too. In effect, people are invading the sharks' territory.

"When I starting diving years ago we were oddballs, now it is a very common water activity. In reality, we're pushing the sharks out of the water."

Mr Martin agrees: "We need to stop treating the ocean like a swimming pool. It is a wilderness. And when we enter this liquid wilderness, we must assume responsibility for our own safety."

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