Shark attack linked to overfishing | The Jackal

1 Mar 2013

Shark attack linked to overfishing

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Adam Strange, 46, was savaged by a shark, thought to be a 3.5m great white, while swimming at the popular beach west of Auckland just before 1.30pm.

The death of the popular beachgoer and TV commercial director has been mourned at the tight-knit beach community today, and the local beach will remain closed until Saturday while the killer shark is being hunted.

Now hold on a second... Didn't the shark that attacked Adam Strange get shot at the scene, so why are they going off to hunt more Great White sharks, which are an endangered species?

The Herald also reported (not online):

Great white sharks are in New Zealand waters all year around, leaving scientists to wonder why there aren't more attacks.

That's correct, however Great White's are deep-water sharks meaning they don't usually hunt close to shore.

The Department of Conservation's shark expert, Clinton Duffy, said Wednesday's attack at Muriwai in which Adam Strange lost his life wasn't likely to be caused by fishermen dropping fish head and guts into the water - a theory floated by locals.

Fish heads and guts would definitely attract hungry sharks to the area.

But Duffy said the sharks are going to be there anyway.

Perhaps DOC should look at getting a better "expert" to give them advice.

It's very unusual for Great Whites to be naturally that close to the coastline... In fact they prefer colder and deeper waters and not the conditions during summer temperatures in New Zealand closer to the shoreline.

"Great white sharks routinely hunt prey items at the surface. They're ambush predators and they attack from below and behind, generally.

"They spend a lot of time swimming at or scanning the surface, looking for prey."

Duffy forgot to mention that they prefer deeper waters, which is why it's unusual for people to be attacked by Great White sharks in New Zealand.

Trying to explain away the fact that Great Whites are cold water and deep sea creatures appears to be an attempt to subvert the conversation away from the real issue here, overfishing.

New Zealand waters have been badly overfished and that means the prey that sharks usually feed on is no longer available. That would make sharks look for other prey in waters they normally don't like.

In other words, overfishing has caused a Great White shark to attack and kill Adam Strange, and while that overfishing continues, it's likely that more shark attacks will occur.

Clinton Duffy performs an public autopsy on a Great White shark, Auckland, Jan 2009.