The Independent Online (iol.co.za) reports that the West Australian government has taken pre-emptivemeasures to ban shark cage diving operations after four fatal shark attacks in the region since September.
This comes after heated debate, both in Australia and SA, about the link between attacks and chumming, which is used to attract sharks to the boats.
Reacting to the ban yesterday, some local shark cage diving operators blasted the move, while a marine biologist said various studies had not proved a link between chumming and shark attacks.
Australian newspapers reported this week that West Australian Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said he did not want tourist activities set up that would attract sharks and change their normal behaviour.
Research done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) at shark cage diving sites in South Australia had found that chumming kept sharks in an area for longer, but did not prove a link between chumming and attacks on humans.
Norman acknowledged that the study did not determine the long-term effects on shark behaviour, but said he would prefer not to take risks until more was known.
Shark cage diving has never been done along Australia’s west coast.
Brian McFarlane, operator and owner of Great White Shark Tours in Gansbaai, said the West Australian authorities were “overreacting”.
“There is definitely no point in banning diving. It has been proved over and over again that shark cage diving is not to the detriment of divers or people using the beaches.”
He said that while they used chumming to attract sharks to the boat, it had never been proved that this changed sharks’ behaviour.
“We do not reward sharks with food. People always want to blame something or someone, but the industry has been operating in Gansbaai for 18 years and there has never been an incident. Thousands of people surf and swim along our shores and the sharks are there as they have always been,” McFarlane said.
Another operator in Gansbaai, Wilfred Chivell, said: “Their decision is not a well-informed one. There is no link between chumming and attacks. I am very proud of the way we are handling the issue locally because these are incredible animals and accidents do happen. Sharks are in their natural habitat as they always have been. I don’t believe there is any change in shark behaviour; chumming has nothing to do with attacks.”
Alison Towner, a marine biologist for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, said: “Cage diving sites in South Australia and SA hold the similarity that they are focused on a seal colony – a natural aggregation area for great white sharks.
“It is understandable that the Australian authorities are concerned with the high attack rate, but West Australia has never had cage diving operations and they’ve still had attacks. I think a more proactive approach would be to understand the movement of sharks properly by doing more research before making policy decisions.”
Towner, who has been researching shark movements for five years, said: “There is still no scientific link between the attacks and chumming. Sharks move around extensively and we need to have a better understanding of their movements.”
Veteran Cape Town surfer Paul Botha said: “Chumming is not the issue when it comes to diving because the operators are in areas where there is a huge aggregation of sharks.
“However, the jury is still out on whether shark cage diving affects shark behaviour because they are attracted by the chum and they come in close proximity to humans and later, when they come in shore where people are surfing and swimming, they may become more inquisitive and it might well change their behaviour.
“However, I don’t think chumming has anything to do with it.”
Alison Kock, a local scientist and research manager for Shark Spotters who conducted a study around the False Bay area similar to the CSIRO one, said local research did not find an increased risk to water users.
In SA in April, a heated chumming row erupted after the death of bodyboarder David Lilienfeld, 20, who was attacked by a great white shark while surfing at a popular surf break at Kogel Bay. – Cape Times
Sourced from : IOL NEWS / TheBombSurf.com
From Weekend Post (www.weekendpost.co.za):
Claremont surfer Paul Buckley was attacked by a shark on Monday July 7 while riding the waves in Jongensfontein in Stilbaai. He was rushed to a Mossel Bay hospital where a deep wound to his leg was stitched closed before he was discharged today (July 8).
According to NSRI station commander Rico Menezies, the attack happened at 11.15am off a beach frequented by surfers. He said until they examined the board for bite marks, they could not say what type of shark attacked Buckley or how big it was.
Local resident Pieter de Witt, known as Boeta, witnessed the attack from the patio of his parents house. He said he saw two surfers in the water and one began to thrash about wildly.
Boeta realised there was a problem and ran to the beach while his sister brought the car around. They saw Buckley paddle to the beach and ran to his aid when he called for help.
Boeta said it was clear that Buckley had been attacked by something and that his surfboard had a 20 to 25cm hole in it.
From the Eastern Province Herald (www.epherald.co.za)
A STILL Bay teenager is being hailed as a hero after he spotted a surfer being attacked by a shark and rushed to his aid.
Paul Buckley, of Claremont, Cape Town, was attacked by a shark while riding the waves at Jongensfontein in Still Bay, just south of the Garden Route, on Tuesday this week.
Grade 9 pupil Pieter “Boeta” de Witt, 14, who saw the attack from the patio of his parents‘ home, is now in line for a bravery award.
Still Bay NSRI station commander Rico Menezies said yesterday Buckley was attacked at 11.15am but the type and size of the shark were not known. “We are still trying to get hold of the board so we can examine the teeth marks before we determine that.”
De Wit said he saw two surfers in the water and that one began to thrash about. He realised there was a problem and ran to the beach while his sister, Wilmarie, brought their car around. “We saw the man paddle out of the water and we ran to him when he called for help. We could see his leg was so badly injured that it was clear something had attacked him.”
The surfboard had a 20cm to 25cm hole in it, he added.
The siblings rushed Buckley to a local doctor, who treated him for deep flesh and skin wounds on his left thigh. He was later transferred to a Mossel Bay hospital.
Buckley, still clearly shocked by the incident, said it was only thanks to God‘s grace that he had not suffered a fatal injury. He did not want any photographs taken while in hospital.
He said the shark appeared to him to have been about 2,5m long.
“Surfing is my sport and I‘ll paddle out again. Once you have the ocean in your blood, it‘s in your blood,” he said.
Hessequa Deputy Mayor Lorna Scott said De Witt would be given a bravery award for his role in helping Buckley.
Menezies said the sea conditions were favourable for a shark attack as the water was unclear and the waves were quite big.
Two whales were apparently in the area, he said, and the shark could have been drawn if they had a calf with them.
Shark attacks are rare in the Still Bay and Jongensfontein area.
Western Australia state said it would introduce rules to ban most shark tourism after four fatal attacks on bathers in the region over the past year.
The lack of traditional shark gathering sites off the state’s coast may encourage operators to feed the animals to attract them to cage dives, changing their behavior in a way that could pose risks to the public, Norman Moore, fisheries minister said in an e-mailed statement today. Such operations will be banned under rules now being drafted.
Western Australia had four fatal shark attacks in a six- month period from last September to last March, according to website sharkattackfile. The state is spending A$14 million ($14.3 million) over the next four years to reduce the risk of attacks, Moore said.
“I would prefer to take no risks,” he said in the statement. “The government is not willing to allow any ventures that may raise even greater public fears than already exist.”
While studies in South Australia state by Australia’s government scientific agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, weren’t clear about whether feeding great white sharks changed their behavior in the long term, that risk had to be set against economic benefits, he said.
No one had yet applied for a license to operate cage dives in Western Australia, Moore said.
To contact the reporter on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at email@example.com
Did anyone read todays Cape Times? Front page story “Furore over Baboon House” really got my blood boiling. The gist of the article is the Pringle Bay communities reaction to a movie that was shot in the village last year. Sponsored by National Geographic, a film crew setup a ‘fake’ house in the village, and laced the house with foodstuffs to lure the local baboon troop to ransack the house, all being filmed by secret cameras hidden behind one-way glass. Now the baboon/house-invasion problem is a common issue in the Cape, and one the Pringle Bay folks have been trying very hard to work on in a manner that can have them living harmoniously with the baboons. Now along comes National Geographic, luring the baboons into a house with food and making another sensationalist doccie for the pleasure of the masses in their living rooms, most of them never having seen a baboon, let alone having to deal with the stress of having one looting your kitchen and taking a shit on your dining room table.
What it smacks of is this, feeding wild animals to make money. Other than this being 100% illegal in South Africa, it also seriously undermines the efforts of the local residents who have to live with these creatures, and as they say in the article, ‘One slip is enough to bring them back into our homes’.
Sounds rather familiar to our shark issue this website is so fervently fighting against. And just like the OCEARCH debacle a few months back, where again Nat Geo was funding the feeding of our wild animals. That stupid film plot may or may not have contributed to a young surfer losing their life a few days after the feeding took place, but what really gets my goat is how these multinationals are coming onto our home turf, messing with our delicate eco-system, making a ton of money, and buggering off to leave us to deal with the aftermath.
I always loved Nat Geo mags as a kid, a veritable champion of animal rights and conservation. But these mags are long gone, now its all about TV, and its the TV-side of Nat Geo that is so regularly spoiling this image. Think ‘Shark Week’, ‘When animals attack’, or an even better one, who’s seen and been horrified by ‘Swamp Men’, where a bunch of hideously uneducated hicks on the swamps of USA bait, then use shotguns to blow the brains out of alligators, all in high definition and beamed right into your home for your animal-loving viewing pleasure.
Where did things change so much at Nat Geo, that now its all about how scary, dangerous and deadly the creatures are, and with no regard for how the livelihood of these creatures is affected by the methods used to film these shows. Do they realise that baboons that repeatedly break into houses will be euthanised, basically being put down? How is that conservation or education, more like cash-driven senseless eradication in my opinion.
And why do they do it? All for the big green dollar, nothing more.
By allowing this company to mess with our nature, we are selling out one of our most unique and wonderful resources.