Entries in Sharks (4)


Shark Attack Closes World's Deadliest Beach

Mirko Zanni/Getty Images(JOHANNESBURG) -- Surfers in South Africa will have to find another favorite spot to catch a wave after local authorities decided Tuesday to close down a beach that has become notorious for fatal shark attacks.

The decision came two days after a man was killed on Sunday.

Msungubana Ngidi, 25, was the latest shark attack victim on Second Beach in Port St. Johns on South Africa's southeastern coast, where sharks have killed one person every year for the past six years.

According to the International Shark Attack File compiled by a professional organization of workers studying sharks, no other beach in the world has had more fatal shark attacks since 2007.

Port St. Johns is a popular tourist spot, but authorities said they didn't want to take any chances.

"There will be significant revenue loss, but we believe one human life is worth more than any money," town spokesperson Nonceba Madikizela told ABC News.

Madikizela said police officers would be keeping watch at Second Beach at all times. The beach is expected to be closed for several months at least while an investigation gets underway into why so many sharks strike there.

"I'm not sure what is causing the attacks, but I think once there is a shark attack, the sharks will keep coming back for more," said lifeguard Nqobile Jojo.

Jojo was one of the lifeguards who rushed to help the victim. Jojo said Ngidi was wading in waist-deep water when the shark struck. He said he used another lifeguard's surfboard to try to save Ngidi.

"I took the surfboard and I waved it at the shark with the victim behind me, and it started to retreat. I then put the victim on the surfboard when other lifeguards came and helped me pull him to shore," Jojo said. "The victim was still breathing but you could see he couldn't even cry as he was badly injured."

The shark bit into Ngidi's chest and stomach and nearly severed his arm. Police said he died in the ambulance en route to the local health clinic. Authorities are still investigating what type of shark killed him, but Zambezi or bull sharks have been involved in most of the attacks at Second Beach. Residents have several theories about what draws the sharks to the area.

"There was once the death of a whale on Second Beach, and it is believed that the sharks are attracted by the whale fat in the water," said Bantu Goniwe, a lifeguard.

Madikizela said a preliminary investigation commissioned by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2009 found the nearby Umzimvubu River is a breeding place for the sharks, and that local traditional healers throw the entrails of slaughtered animals into the sea in the area. Madikizela said the initial investigation by the Natal Sharks Board hadn't been completed because of lack of funding but was recently recommissioned and could be finished later this year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hybrid Sharks Found off Australia

Mirko Zanni/Getty Images(QUEENSLAND, Australia) -- In the waters off the eastern coast of Australia, marine scientists report a first: 57 cases in which two species of shark are interbreeding. The local Australian black-tip shark is mating with its global counterpart, the common black-tip. They’re similar, but they are distinct species.

“It’s very surprising because no one’s ever seen shark hybrids before,” said Jess Morgan of the University of Queensland, the lead researcher, as quoted by AFP. “This is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination.”

Morgan, whose team published its findings in the journal Conservation Genetics, said she thinks a change in climate may partially explain things.

“If it [the Australian black-tip species] hybridises with the common species it can effectively shift its range further south into cooler waters, so the effect of this hybridising is a range expansion,” Morgan said. “It’s enabled a species restricted to the tropics to move into temperate waters.”

Morgan confirmed the cross-breeding through DNA analysis.

Jennifer Ovenden of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, who was a co-author of the Conservation Genetics paper, was quoted by “Hybridization could enable the sharks to adapt to environmental change as the smaller Australian black tip currently favors tropical waters in the north while the larger common black tip is more abundant in sub-tropical and temperate waters along the south-eastern Australian coastline.”

The 57 hybrid sharks were found along a stretch of coastline about 1,250 miles long. Mixing the two species would presumably make them stronger and better able to withstand variations in their environment, said Morgan. “You’re seeing evolution in action.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Australia Boasting World's First Shark Infested Golf Course

BananaStock/Thinkstock(BRISBANE, Australia) -- Every golfer knows you want to avoid the water hazards around your local links.  But thanks to flooding some time ago, the hazards in an Australian golf course have gone from hazardous to potentially deadly.

Pushed along by a rain-swollen river, bull sharks wound up inside a lake at the Carbook Golf Club in Brisbane, and biologists are amazed that since they wound up on the course some years ago near the 14th tee, they have begun breeding.

There are nearly a half dozen eight to 10 foot-long sharks now swimming about at the lake, Sky News reports.

The ecological quirk, however has had a chilling effect: no kids dare jump in the lake to recover lost balls for resale as they traditionally had.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Shark Attack Bride Believed Seychelles Were Safe

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Widowed bride Gemma Houghton says that one of the reasons she and her husband Ian Redmond chose to honeymoon in the Seychelles was because they had been assured there were no dangerous animals in its deep, clear waters.

"We didn't really think that sharks would be in the Seychelles at all," Houghton told the BBC. "It wasn't something we were aware of."

Redmond, 30, was snorkeling in tranquil waters of Anse Lazio beach on the island of Praslin Tuesday when the shark attacked.

Houghton could see his bright orange snorkel gear from where she had been sunning on the beach when her husband began screaming for help, she said.

"All of the sudden, I heard 'Help!' and I thought at first he was sneezing," said Houghton. "It was the most awful scream, and I can still hear it when I close my eyes," she said. "He's never screamed like that before because he's such a strong man, such a strong man, so brave."

Houghton said that her husband was conscious when he was brought to the shore by speedboat.

"He looked me in the eyes and said, 'Alright,'" she said. "I could see a mixture in his eyes of fear and a realization, a relief that he had seen me, that I was there. I think I told him I loved him very much. I hope I did."

Redmond died in a hospital shortly afterwards from blood loss.

Houghton told the BBC that despite the horrific accident, "the last thing I would want is for any of these events to affect the Seychelles people, their livelihoods and the tourism in the area. It's a beautiful place. People must come."

The couple, who had wed on Aug. 6, are one of thousands of couples who flock to the Indian Ocean islands from Europe annually. Newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton visited North Island in the Seychelles for their honeymoon earlier this year.

The incident was the latest in a recent outbreak of shark attacks on the beach of Anse Lazio in the Seychelles. A French tourist was killed two weeks ago by a shark under similar circumstances while snorkeling in the waters during the late afternoon.

Ronald Jumeau, the Seychelles ambassador to the U.S., told ABC News that reports that the killer shark was six feet were false.

Jumeau told ABC News that a special committee had been assembled, composed of standing authorities from the National Parks, the Seychelles Fishing Authority, area police, the Coast Guard, marine biologists, hotel security and residents of the area to coordinate their actions in guarding the area and preventing a third attack.

"A domestic advisory has been announced to make sure people don't go too far out," Jumeau said. "They are monitoring the waters to insure that they can get the shark. There's probably just one shark, but we are certainly taking precautions. There is no panic on the island, no wild shark hunt, although some of the popular beaches around that area have been closed and are being patrolled."

Current precautions include using fishing nets to cordon off areas of the bay. Fishing boats are also circulating in the area with bait in hopes of luring the shark.

Seychelles officials tried to downplay the dangers of sharks in the area.

"In Seychelles, we don't even think about sharks," Jumeau said. "It's that rare. Seychelles is not known for that....That beach is one of my favorite beaches, and until now I would have gone into the water without hesitation."

Selby Pillay, Seychelles minister of counselor to the U.N., told ABC News that most of its tourists come from Europe.

"We've had approximately 100,000 tourists since January," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio