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Great White Shark Boards South Africa Research Boat at Sea Never Attacks

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

Six researchers from South Africa get to encounter a great white--at a much closer distance than nearly anyone prefers. Try a close-up encounter, in a boat. After a thrashing shark boards a boat but never attacks, boats tow the dying animal to safety--twice. The great white beached itself after researchers had sprayed water to ventilate gills and keep it alive.

A research team from Oceans Research had been working off Seal Island on South Africa's Cape coast when a 10-foot-long great white decided to join them. The Oceans Research team leader Dorien Schroder that more than hour after shark activity around their boat, the "Cheetah", things had fallen dead silent. That silence was followed by a splash that changed everyone's lives over the next hours: "Next thing, I hear a splash and see a great white breach out of the water from one side of the boat hovering, literally, over a crew member chumming on the port side," says Schroder.

The great white shark that had leaped out of the water apparently misread the situation and space -- landing half its body in the "Cheetah" research boat. But things were about to get worse.

Panicked over being partially stuck and trapped, the great white thrashed its way further onto the boat -- in whips and lashes that cut the boat's fuel lines and blew equipment.

As the team and boat crew fled to any area safer on the boat, the great white became completely stuck, then completely unable to escape the boat or free itself.

Two shark scientists tried to help but those first attempts did nothing to free the great white. But more boats were brought in for aid -- the research team trying to yank the shark off the "Cheetah" by tying a rope, attached to another boat, around the shark's tail. Simultaneously researchers were fighting to keep the stuck shark alive, spraying water into the shark's mouth to ventilate its gills throughout the rescue attempts.

The "Cheetah" — complete with shark on board — got towed to the harbor so the great white's body weight could be lifted by crane. That part may have been effective in getting the shark out of the boat, but the disoriented shark then accidentally beached itself. Johnson's team finally got the shark returned to its own water by tying ropes around the beached great white and towing it out of the harbor -- cutting the lines once the animal regained strength and began moving more powerfully.


South Africa
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