Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Australia's "Monster Shark" - The Facts

The news media is having a field day with the story of a 10 foot white shark with two giant bites out of its side, indicating that perhaps a much larger shark, as large as 20 feet might have been involved.

We took a look at the images this week and came to the conclusion "if" this animal was in fact 10 feet long, these bites could be the result of a very, very large white shark.

Some have cried foul and declared this image to be photoshopped, others have suggested this image is a complete fake. Still others have said that men, not a shark, carved up the carcass.

We decided to find out the truth and made a series of phone calls to various agencies in Australia today and here's what we know:

1. This is a real image, or so says The Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries manager Tony Ham who told us "this is a confirmed 3.3 meters white shark, caught by our contractor, he measured the primary bite mark at 50 centimeters or twenty inches."

2. The sole contractor who catches sharks in the region has been doing so for Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries since 1986.

3. Tony Hams team estimate from the 50 centimeter bite radius, the feeding shark was in the 5.2 meter range or 16-17 feet.

4. Samples were collected from the bitten shark. The shark was dumped at sea following standard protocol. The bites were so severe that the head actually fell off the animal during transit shortly after this image was shot.

5. These are not man made holes in the side of the shark according to Tony Ham, "it is not a faked photo, the photo is absolutely genuine."

Tony Ham went on to say after they released this image to the media and the estimated size of the feeding shark "the sharks size grew by a meter overnight."

Cage Diving Trip Report - 2009 Guadalupe Island

Editors Note: As a solo female diver from Finland we were excited to meet Sanna Juntunen in person this year.

Fun, adventurous, and always ready for the next shark rotation, nothing could stop this exceptional adventure seeker from discovering her "moment of white shark bliss."


From Finland to Isla Guadalupe – September 8-12-2009


"If we can dream it, we can do it”. This is a phrase I saw in Disneyworld, Florida almost 20 years ago and the same phrase came into my mind again last year when I was looking information about great white shark diving at Isla Guadalupe. "Should I finally make it happen? Well..why not!”

I was aware of the "shark finning situation” and the need of ongoing research and wanted to find an operator that really takes these things seriously and gives effort to saving these beautiful animals and also knows how to work on site on sharks condition. From these basis, Shark Diver came out the most convincing option. A decision I never had to regret.

After almost 7000 miles of travelling I was finally on board MV Horizon on my way to Isla Guadalupe. Seeing ”the shark fin rock” the next morning and hearing Shark Diver CEO Patric Douglas saying ”Welcome to the island!” was the moment I had been waiting for the last ten months.

Less than one hour later I was in a cage with my camera admiring the underwater sights and waiting for the first sharks to appear. Finally, during the second rotation, I saw a dark shadow coming towards the cage and after a couple of seconds it was no longer a shadow..it was the most gorgeous creature I could ever imagine. The shark swam slowly past the cage and I could see it curiously looking at us. Suddenly it was gone but only for a short moment. During the day more sharks appeared and they continued to circle around the vessel and the cages the whole time we had rotations.

All three days of diving were incredible and offered an amazing opportunity to take photos and video and see how the sharks behave in their natural environment. When there are only a couple of inches between you and a 14-foot shark that looks straight into your eyes it makes you feel humble and privileged to be able make this visit to the world of the great whites. There are no words to describe that feeling!

If I can remember correctly we saw a total of 13 different sharks. Also a very big plus was the second night when marine biologist Mauricio Hoyos-who does a great work with the sharks-gave us a very informative lecture about his research at Isla Guadalupe. Now I also know how ”Mau” got his name;-)!

On the last day the crew gave us an opportunity to take a boat ride to have a closer look of the island and it's other inhabitants: sea lions and elephant seals among other things. A very nice extra! At this point I want to say a BIG thank you for the whole crew: Spencer and Wayne, Aaron and Cary, Mark and Mike (great food!) and divemaster Martin. You guys were always there to offer your help and made this trip even more successful!

And Patric from Shark Diver, thank you very much for being so helpful from the moment I contacted you. With your help it was a lot easier to make all the required arrangements and it was also great to meet you in person!

After all, the trip was everything I expected and even more! Hopefully in the future I will have an opportunity to get more shark diving experiences. "If we can dream it..."

From Finland,

Sanna Juntunen
Helsinki, Finland