Tempting Tuesday: Swimming with Great Whites

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, so this week's Tempting Tuesday is all about one of my favorite animals, Great White Sharks.

I love 'em. They're beautiful, powerful, and incredibly misunderstood. Did you know that juvenile Great Whites swim with the surfers every day in Malibu and don't bother anyone?

It's true. One of my favorite show is NatGeo's Shark Men. Two expert fisherman (Chris Fischer and Captain Brett McBride from OffshoreAdventures) have teamed up with scientist Dr. Michael Domeir to tag and study Great White Sharks. But they aren't using the spear and pop-up tags. These guys are LANDING the shark on their ship, the MV Ocean.

Once the shark takes the ginormous hook with some yummy, stinky bait, the guys jump on a secondary boat and spend hours wearing the shark out until they can guide it onto the landing deck. Then they've got 20 min or less to tag it with a five year transmitter, get its measurements, and draw blood. To date, the biggest they've landed is a 20 foot female named Amy.

I'm so jealous of these guys. They not only get to go to parts of the ocean most of us will never see, but they get to be up close and personal with one of Mother Nature's most awesome creations.

And their research is paying off. By getting the sharks out of the water and tagging them with long-term tags, they're learning more than ever. They're able to track the sharks to their foraging areas, and they're getting close to figuring out where sharks give birth, something that's never been documented.

Research shows that Great Whites aren't a vicious as the movies would have us believe. Their mouth is the epicenter of their nervous system, and most bites are actually the shark sampling, trying to figure out what's in the water. Humans aren't on the Great White menu, or the surfers in Malibu would be chum.

Great Whites are one of the ocean's greatest predators, helping to keep the ocean's delicate balance. But because of over catching and getting caught in fishing nets, they're now endangered.

It's Shark Week and you know what that means: 24/7 coverage of some of the oceans' most alluring predators. But what you may not know is sharks are in danger from the world's most terrifying predators: humans.

Sharks are being fished faster than they can reproduce and their numbers are declining - and fast. Some U.S. hammerhead populations have dropped an alarming 98% in recent decades.

If we keep fishing at this rate, soon there will be no more sharks swimming in our waters and Shark Week will be our only chance to see these amazing creatures - OCEANA.org

It's not fair. This animal has gotten such a bad rap, and all they want to do is exist. Yet humans are continually encroaching on their territory, much like the tiger, and now we're losing them.

Shark Week likes to show the more startling sides of the sharks: the teeth, the creepy dorsal fin sticking out of the water, and the shark snagging a baby seal. But the Discovery Channel also works hard to show us the importance of the shark in nature.

Shark Men takes things a step further. Domeir and Fischer believe that by learning the shark's migratory patterns, they have a better chance of saving them.

I think they're right. And every time I watch the show, I want to be one of the divers getting into the water (sometimes without a cage) while the Great Whites flock the bait.

Great White Facts

Great White Shark meat is not recommended for human consumption because it has very high mercury levels.

Great White Sharks try to avoid fighting for food. When there is only enough food for one, they have a tail-slapping contest. The sharks swim past each other, each slapping the surface of the water with their tails, and often directing the spray toward the other shark. The one who gets the meal is the shark that delivers the most tail slaps.

Great White sharks live along the coasts of all continents except Antarctica.

The Great White Shark have an enormous liver that can weigh up to 24 percent of its entire weight.

The Great White Shark lives for about 25 years.

Great White Sharks rarely attack people and when they do, it is because they mistaken the person for their usual seal prey.

Scientists estimate that after a big meal, a Great White Shark can last up to three months before needing another one.

A Great White Shark can roll its eyeballs back, which protects the vital front part of the eye from being scratched.

Some scientists believe there are less than 10,000 Great White Sharks in the entire world.

Great White Sharks breed late in life. They do not start breeding until they’re at least twenty years old.

More than 70 percent of known victims of Great White Shark Attacks survive because the shark realizes it has made a mistake and doesn’t finish off the prey.

What do you guys think of the Great White? What are some other misunderstood animals?

14 comments:

Natalie C. Markey said...

Excellent post! I have always loved sharks, despite my parents thinking I was crazy. I always said that I had to marry someone that would go shark diving with me. People always lectured me to lower my standards. I'm so glad I didn't and I've been married for over four years to a wonderful man and my SCUBA/Shark diving buddy. I'm loving how positive this shark week is being so far!

tiffanyawhite said...

I'm sorry, Stacy. I hate sharks. I am terrified of them courtesy of Jaws. I can't even watch Shark Week - I may be the only one in the world!

Stacy said...

Natalie
I would love to go shark diving. I'm so jealous you're married to a diving buddy. Would be an amazing thing to do together.

LOL, Tiffany, that's okay. Jaws ruined it for a lot of people, and that's too bad. It's loosely based on the shark attacks on the east coast in the early 1900s, but that was a rogue shark that got into fresh water.

Thanks for commenting!

Sue Ann Bowling said...

I have some Great Whites as unwitting villains in an as-yet unpublished SF trilogy. But they are (1) an animal introduced to a world where they are NOT part of the ecology, and (2) deliberately conditioned to feeding on human flesh. Neither is true on Earth. Dangerous? Yes, especially if provoked. But an important part of Earth's ecology.

Stacy said...

Sue
Those are definitely reasons why a Great White would go after a human. Yes, dangerous if provoked, but often that provoking is simply curiosity and trying to figure out if they've found food.

Thanks for posting. Your trilogy sounds interesting!

Jessica R. Patch said...

I've always been obsessed with Great Whites. Dangerous yet intriguing. I like my male characters much the same way! ;)

Excellent post!

Beverly Diehl said...

Have you seen the articles about the Great Whites they've periodically kept in captivity at the Monterey Bay Aquarium? Quite interesting.

Stacy said...

Beverly
I haven't seen those, but I'll check them out. I can't imagine a Great White doing well in captivity. Thanks!

Jessica
Exactly. They're fascinating. And lol, me too. Thanks!

Annie Boreson said...

I know I should be over the trauma of Jaws, but that damn movie ruined the ocean for me. Yesterday as I was walking on the beach a seal had washed up on shore with a MAJOR chunk out of his middle. No doubt a shark and one more reminder that the Great Whites could put me in Great Red with one bite.

Stacy said...

Annie
That's too bad. Jaws is great, but it's so inaccurate. Yes, that's exactly what happened to the seal, and Great Whites could do it to us, too. But they're not maneaters. They just what they do, lol.
Thanks!

Angela Wallace said...

I admit, I've always seen sharks as scary. Your post with it's myth-busting info is great. I don't like the beach anyway, so no tempting sharks for me. :-P

Stacy said...

Thanks for the comment, Angela. I love the beach but live too far away from the ocean to have much hope, lol.

catierhodes.com said...

I'm a kid of the Jaws generation, too. And I scared myself further with Deep Water. However...I have petted a shark. And I swam with the sharks in Galveston. Long story that last one. Good, informative post. :D

Stacy said...

You've petted a shark? And swam with them? You know I'm green with jealousy!
Thanks, girl:)

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