Tagged white pointer

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.

Spearfishermen’s unexpected great white shark encounter

Australia’s 7News YouTube channel shared this video of two spearfishermen having an unexpected encounter with a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). According to the report, the white shark (also known as a white pointer in Australia) circled David Richards and Nathan Podmore multiple times, while they were approximately 50m from their boat at the surface. Podmore filmed the encounter which occurred off the coast of Geraldton, Western Australia.

Fortunately, Podmore and Richards kept there cool and remained calm while the shark circled. When the shark came in for a closer look, they prodded it in the side with the tip of a speargun, which sent the shark off on its way, allowing the two men to return to their boat. Both fishermen and the shark came away unscathed, save for probably a temporary sharp increase in heart rate.

Thanks to the SharkDiver blog for the video find!

Australian fishermen fined for killing great white shark

The Herald Sun is reporting that a pair of fishermen from South Australia were fined a total of over $15,000 (AUS) for a December 2008 killing of a great white shark. Additionally, the fishermen, Robert John North and Peter John Vivian, were required to forfeit the $5,978 (AUS) they received from the sale of shark’s jaws and teeth. The magistrate also ruled that the men may not possess sharks or shark-fishing equipment for a period of 5 years.

Great white sharks have been protected by law in South Australia waters since 1998.

Boater has apparent close call with shark

UPDATE: According to YouTube user MsAnnabelle99, the shark in the video was a 4m+ tiger shark who had been around the boat for around 10 minutes with a pod of orcas. The video was shot approximately 8 miles off of Merimbula, New South Wales, Australia.

Not much info about this video, which showed up on YouTube today from user MsAnnabelle99. The only information provided in the video description is “shark almost bites arm.”

Based on an initial view at normal speed, it’s fairly difficult to discern what is going on, aside from the presence of a large shark around a fishing boat. However, the slow-motion footage (found at the end of the video) gives a better look at what certainly looks like a great white shark partially breaching the surface in close proximity to the cameraman, and another boater who is reaching out of over the side of the boat when the white shark surfaces.

Thankfully, it appears that everybody came out of the situation unscathed, with the exception of a good scare on the part of the cameraman.

Great white shark attacks on sea otters hit record numbers

White shark attacks on sea otters along the central coast of California hit record numbers for the month of August, this year, according to a 760KFBM.com report. The average number of shark attacks on sea otters for the month of August over a ten-year period is seven. In August of this year, scientists recovered 19 otters with apparent shark bite wounds.

Typically, when a white shark attack does occur on a sea otter, the shark will bite and then release the sea otter upon realizing that it a preferred prey item, according to Mike Harris of the California Department of Fish and Game. Harris goes on to note that unfortunately most of these attacks still prove fatal. Due to the nature of the severity of the bites and the anatomy of the sea otters, even an exploratory bite or a bite of “mistaken identity” can result in injuries that the sea otters cannot recover from.

The 760KFMB article notes that some researchers are speculating that unusually mild summer temperatures in the area might explain the increase in the incidences involving white sharks attacking sea otters, as the cooler ocean temperatures make area waters preferable to white sharks.

In addition to the shark attacks on sea otters, a New York Times article is reporting that a University of California, Santa Cruz report has linked sea otter deaths in California to a freshwater toxin. The toxin microcystin is produced by blue-green algae, and the report suggests that the toxin has leaked into the Pacific. Researchers involved in the study say that least 21 sea otter deaths were linked to the toxin.

Both sea otters and white sharks are listed as threatened species on the IUCN red list. Sea otters are classified as “endangered,” while great white sharks are currently classified as “vulnerable.”