Photo by Willy Volk via Flickr CC (and TreeHugger's Flickr Pool)
As shark week begins to wrap up, we're taking a look at some of the more interesting and extraordinary stories about sharks that we've covered over the last few years. 1. Epic Shark Feeding Frenzy Caught on Film
In September of last year, a feeding frenzy off the coast of Queensland, Australia had authorities telling life guards to start calling swimmers in from the water. Hundreds of sharks were feeding off a massive school of fish for lunch. The sight of so many big sharks in one place is definitely a little hair-raising, but rest assured their target was not bathers, but bait fish.
We think great white sharks are among the most impressive predators of the sea -- and they are, but they are not infallible. There's a reason Orcas have earned the nickname Killer Whales, and it's because they're capable of taking down even a great white shark using an amazing strategy: tonic immobility.
Andrew Eckersley in New South Wales, Australia came across a solitary surfer trying to save a beached 10-foot long great white shark. The massive animal was still alive, and the surfer was trying to dig a hole ocean-side to get it back into the water. The two ended up pulling the great white back toward the water. Their efforts were documented by photographer Ruth Fahey who happened to wander up.
Photo credit: quinn.anya/Creative Commons
4. Annual Whale Shark Swarm Offers Unique Opportunity to Study the Mysterious Species
Seeing a whale-sized shark is amazing. But what if you see dozens, even hundreds of them all at once? That's what happens annually when whale sharks gather to feed on large blooms of plankton. Scientists are hoping to capitalize on the annual event as an opportunity to study the sharks. Meanwhile, residents are looking to capitalize on revenue streaming in from tourists eager to swim alongside the behemoths.
Photo by OldakQuill via Wikimedia CC
5. Penny Palfrey Sets a New Ocean Swim Record...But Kills 3 Sharks In The Process
Penny Palfrey made news just over a month ago when she completed an amazing 40-hour swim between Little Cayman and Grand Cayman. Her record-breaking swim, however, was tainted as news sources reported that one of her team members killed three Oceanic whitetip sharks that came a little too close for comfort.
While Palfrey's team denies that this happened, the news certainly sparked a significant amount of comment from readers, the vast majority of which feel that sharks should not be harmed at all during swims. This outcry has led to another ocean swimmer, Diana Nyad, looking to set a record later this summer to use Shark Shield, an electronic device proven to drive sharks away, to keep her safe during her upcoming swim since she agrees sharks are important and should not be killed.
Great white sharks are notoriously mysterious animals. Researchers really aren't sure about many of the basics, such as where and when they mate or give birth, or even where they spend most of their time. Well...actually, a little bit more has been discovered about that last one. Turns out, white sharks off the west coast of the US spend a lot of time in a hang-out called "white shark cafe." It is located in Pacific right between the west coast and the Hawaiian islands. But what on earth are they doing there? It is still a mystery.
The song says it all:
This definitely falls into the bizarre category, almost sounding more like the story line of a monster movie. But last summer, tourists in Australia's Kakadu National Park saw the two beasts toward the end of what must have been an interesting struggle between a saltwater crocodile and a (notoriously tough) bull shark.
The tour's guide noted that, "nearly 100 people saw it all up and they were jumping for joy." While we don't think it's exactly something to be joyful about, it most likely was an amazing thing to witness.
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