Two tales of great white shark research: One that the researchers will be talking about for a LONG time, one involving our white shark team that you can check out during Discovery Channel's Shark Week on July 31.
In South Africa, a group doing a population study of great whites off Seal Island, was stunned when a 10-foot, half-ton shark leapt out of the water and landed in their boat. According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, it was stuck on deck for more than an hour til researchers were able to free it and get it back into Mossel Bay. The shark apparently swam off, none the worse for the wear -- after a bit of help, as reported here (with a photo of the shark in the boat).
As one of our colleagues said, on hearing the story: "It's my dream and nightmare rolled into one!"
John O'Sullivan, who leads the Monterey Bay Aquarium white shark research project, says it's not surprising for great white sharks to do well, even after an extended time in conditions where they can't swim freely through the ocean.
John said that many of the young great whites the aquarium & its partners tag in southern California come to us from commercial fishermen who catch them accidentally in their nets. The fishermen hold the young sharks, often for several hours, in small holding tanks. Based on data from the electronic tracking tags we place on the sharks, they do very well after release.
Our field team are back in southern California this summer and in addition to tagging juveniles, will be looking for a suitable candidate to bring back to the Aquarium to our just-reopened "Open Sea" exhibit. Stay tuned for news on that front!
Our research project -- as well as research in South Africa and at Guadalupe Island off Baja California -- will be featured in "Great White Invasion," program that kicks off Shark Week 2011 on the Discovery Channel. "Great White Invasion," which explores why great whites hang out in coastal waters, airs on Sunday, July 31 at 9 Eastern/Pacific time. Check your local listings for details.