Tagged shark

What happened to the legendary great white shark, Cal Ripfin?

Now, that August has arrived it’s about that time of year when great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) begin to arrive at Mexico’s Isla de Guadalupe Biosphere Reserve. The island is regarded as one of the best places on Earth to view white sharks in their natural habitat. However, it’s one shark in particular that many are holding out hopes to see return.

Cal Ripfin great white shark
Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder) was one of the most well-known great white sharks at Guadalupe prior to his disappearance following the 2011 season.

From 2001 to 2011, Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder) was one of the most well-known great white sharks to visit Mexico’s Isla de Guadalupe. Easily recognized by an injury to his dorsal fin that occurred sometime between the 2004 and 2005 season, Cal was a “fan favorite” of divers and photographers due to his inquisitive and curious nature. He would often swim right up the cameras as if he was posing for a photo opportunity.

White sharks gather at Guadalupe in the later months of the year, with the prime season considered to be between August and November. Cal consistently visited Guadalupe every season for 10 years straight, and his arrival was generally quite predictable. In 2009, he was absent early on in the season, which caused a bit of concern among researchers and divers, but he eventually showed up about midway through the season. However, after failing to be seen during the 2012 season, concerns once again rose for the well-being of Guadalupe’s favorite shark. When 2013 and 2014 passed by without any sighting of Cal Ripfin, hopes of his return were dampened even further.

great white shark close-up
Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder) wasn’t shy about swimming right up to the camera, which often created great opportunities for close-up shots.

While migratory tracking data is limited among Guadalupe white sharks, the available data indicates that SPOT tagged males follow a somewhat predictable pattern each year. The data shows males traveling to Guadalupe in the latter half of a year, and spending the rest of their time in the Shared Offshore Foraging Area (SOFA) (aka “the White Shark Cafe”), a remote area in the mid-Pacific. If the tracking data available is representative of the migratory behavior of all male Guadalupe white sharks, it does not bode well for Cal Ripfin, given his 3-year absence.

Cal Ripfin great white shark
The question of why this male great white shark suddenly stopped returning to Guadalupe is one that will likely go unanswered, unfortunately.

So, what could have happened to him? Did he change his migratory routine? Did he die of natural causes, fall prey to another predator, or end up in a fishing net? At this point, it seems likely that his fate will always remain a mystery.

Somehow, I still have a tiny glimmer of hope that he’s still out there, but with each year that glimmer gets a little more faint.

Hurricane Sandy brings new crop of faked shark photos

The past few days have seen quite a few photos either misrepresenting the effects of Hurricane Sandy or just flat-out faking them. Some gullible news outlets have been running with photos that appear to show a shark swimming through a flooded neighborhood in New Jersey. A few of the photos have already made the rounds during other major storms, but there are a couple of new ones that claim to show sharks swimming around a New Jersey that are brand-new exclusives to Hurricane Sandy.

The photos apparently originated as a hoax on a Facebook page and have since been circulated by some as genuine.

The Atlantic has a fairly extensive page that debunks or verifies some of the photos from Hurricane Sandy that have been going viral, as of late.

While Hurricane Sandy is definitely presenting some real-life dangers to many, sharks are pretty far down on the list of worries that those affected by the storm are dealing with.

California children celebrate Kids Ocean Day with beach artwork

“Kids Ocean Day” saw multiple organized celebration events on the California coast, which were sponsored, in part, by the California Coastal Commission.

The event seen in the video above took place on the South Spit of Humboldt Bay at the Mike Thompson Wildlife Area and was filmed and shared on YouTube by Chad Johnson. The children at this event formed a giant eel along with the message of “Defend our Seas.” The event was organized by Friends of the Dunes.

At an event held at Dockweiler State Beach in Los Angeles, an estimated 5,000 children joined to form another “human mosiac,” according to a Contra Costa Times article. The mosaic took the form of shark holding a shield which read “Defend the Sea” and was based off artwork submitted by 6th grader, Breann Mancilla of Robert Frost Middle School. Artist John Quigley used Breann’s sketch to organize the human mosaic aerial artwork. The L.A. event was organized by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education.

Another event at Huntington Beach involved 875 Orange County elementary school students joining together to form a smiling fish with the message “clean seas, please.” OrangeCounty.com has the full-story along with a photo of the children’s artwork.

Children involved in the events also helped to clean up the beaches by picking up litter. Congratulations to all the children involved for their great work!

CG re-enactment of surfer reportedly “riding” great white shark

Next Media Animation News Direct recently posted a computer generated re-enactment of a story that’s been making headlines recently involving Oregon surfer Doug Niblack “riding” on the back of what Niblack reports was a 10-12′ great white shark. Take the re-enactment for what you will.

ABC News reports that there was no physical evidence to back the report up in terms of bite marks on the board nor photographic evidence which could identify the species involved. However, they did interview Niblack and another surfer who witnessed the encounter.

California governor signs shark fin bill into law

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed the California Shark Protection Act into law.

The L.A. Times is reporting that California governor, Jerry Brown, has signed AB 376 (aka “Shark Protection Act”) into law. The newly signed law prohibits the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins in the State of California. The ban will go into effect on January 1, 2012.