Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Zambezi Sharks

There have been a number of reports of some large sharkes on our coast recently not unuseual for summer. There have even been sightings of Great White Sharks!! Now thats a little disterbing! But for the most part its been Zambezi and other smaller Greys and Milkys.

Quiet a few spearfisherman have been harrased and lost their fish to sharks, and one skiboater said that they had to move from a FAD last week as a super large Great whaite was chomping everything.

Interesting that there have been 2 articles in the news on Zambezi's this week already. One a World Record Zambezi was caught in the Breede river, and the other a fatal attack on a life guard in the Kei.

Killer shark identified as Zambezi after examination of lifeguard‘s body

A ZAMBEZI shark was responsible for attacking and killing a Port St Johns lifeguard at the weekend, Natal Sharks Board head researcher Geremy Cliff said yesterday.

He said warm waters along the Eastern Cape coast in summer attracted the sharks.

Seasoned lifeguard Sikhanyiso Bangilizwe, 27, was attacked by the shark on Saturday afternoon while swimming with a friend at Second Beach.

He was bitten on the shoulder, right arm, back and buttocks.

Cliff said an examination of Bangilizwe‘s body had established that a Zambezi (bull) shark had attacked him.

World Record Zambezi Caught in the Breede River
Dear all,

I write to give you the details of our research expedition to the Breede River during the week January 19-25.

The purpose of the expedition was to determine whether reports of Zambezi (bull) sharks in the Breede River could be confirmed.  Scientifically, confirmed reports would be extremely relevant on a global scale as this would represent the most south-westerly distribution of bull sharks in Africa.

Joining us on the expedition was Dr. Steve Lamberth and his team from MCM, Hennie Papenfuss from Big Fish Safari and a team of four from SASC.  We fished for 3 days with no luck & were rewarded on the 4th day when Hennie caught a bull shark on his line.  After an hour and a half struggle with the fish (during which it towed him 2.5km further upstream), Hennie managed to tire her enough to bring her close to shore for landing.  Our team then brought her carefully to the shore, where we were able to collect all the required data.  

We measured her, tagged her with two acoustic continuous tags and one spaghetti tag, and gathered genetic samples in order to determine whether bull sharks in the Breede River represent a distinct population from those found elsewhere in South Africa.  

She is a world-record breaking shark measuring 4 metres total length, weighing in the vicinity of 550-600kg.  This is the largest bull shark known to science - the previous maximum size was thought to be 3.5 metres TL.  We also suspect she was heavily pregnant and may very well be using the Breede as a pupping ground.  Scientifically speaking, this discovery is huge and groundbreaking.

Following the tagging, we proceeded to track her for 43 continuous hours.  She spent the majority of the time in the estuary, with only a few hours in the surf zone just outside the river mouth.
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