In some odd shark-related news, CNN and WMUR are reporting that the carcass of a 6-8′ blue shark (Prionace glauca) was found in the woods in Milton, New Hampshire. The dead shark was found discarded approximately 50 miles from the coast. According to WMUR.com, authorities who were called to the scene decided to leave the carcass where it lay and “let nature takes its course.”
The presence of whale sharks along the coast of East Java, Indonesia are causing an increase in local tourism. The migration patterns of the whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) take them through the area between January and March, and locals are paying up to 5,000 Indonesian Rupiah (which amounts to about $0.53 US, according to the NTD World News report) for boat trips taking them in close proximity of the sharks.
While it’s great to see a positive interest in these animals, the interview with one of the tourists about her fears towards being near a “shark” (despite it being a filter feeder) is indicative of some of the common misconceptions that are out there when it comes to sharks, in general. Then again, the fact that the news anchor referred to the fish as “mammals” might serve as a better example of the lack of understanding towards these animals. My only other major complaint with the report is that the “tour guide” featured in the video is shown apparently attempting to ride a whale shark.
While the report might be a be off on a few “facts,” it’s good to see a generally positive shark story in the news. It’s even more refreshing to hear the sharks referred to as “friendly fish.”
A recent article in the NY Post features one of the photographs discussed in yesterday’s post about Amos Nachoum’s photos from an illegal cage-less commercial dive at Isla de Guadalupe. The article, “Hi there, will you be my chum?” makes the absolutely baseless statement that “great whites are so short-sighted they can hardly spot what’s right in front of them.” While it was once thought that white sharks had poor vision (it was also once thought that the Earth was flat), research has shown that white sharks have a highly developed visual system. Perhaps, the article’s author, Andy Soltis, should give this article about white shark vision a read.
As far as the bit about a white shark hardly be able to spot what’s right in front of them, I’d suggest going for a white shark dive. Anybody who has been close enough to see the blue iris of a passing white shark can tell you that a great white shark will often “track” you with its eye movements as it swims by.
Granted, the whole theme of the article seems to be rather whimsical, in nature. However, the NY Post’s somewhat tabloid status, doesn’t excuse it from posting/printing completely unfounded “information.”
In an update to yesterday’s post, multiple news sources are now reporting that the state medical examiner’s office has changed the cause of death from shark attack to accidental drowning, in the case of a 60-year old Pennsylvania man who went missing last month after going for a late-night swim off of Corolla Beach in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Virginia Pilot, is now reporting that "a spokesman for the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, where the autopsy was conducted, confirmed the change in the cause of death." In addition, East Carolina Radio News is also reporting that a report from the office of the medical examiner in Greenville, NC states that the victim had drowned prior to sustaining shark bites.
It is unclear how or why the cause of the death was apparently misdiagnosed. As one reader commented at the Virginia Pilot article, “I hope this does not add to the family’s anguish.”
According to an article at Wired.com, scientists have identified a new species of ghostshark, which is actually classified in the chimera family. The newly identified species, Hydrolagus melanophasma, was described by Doug Long (California Academy of Sciences) as, “a big weird looking freaky thing.” The species also has an organ extending from its forehead called a tentaculum. The tentaculum was described as a “club with spike,” which some presume is used in the mating process. While the species was recently identified, it was "discovered" long before in the sense that specimens of the species existed at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute and simply had not been identified. To read the entire article and see a photo of Hydrolagus melanophasma, head on over to Wired.com