Thursday, November 12, 2009

Monster-sized shark attacks ... a shark

When I first heard this story I was in Hawaii - the tagline was "Is this picture photoshopped?" about a giant shark attack. I didn't see the picture, I just heard the anchor talking about it. Then of course you see lots about it on the Internet.

So here's the story - sharks are in the ocean, and there used to be lots of attacks down in Queensland, Australia, especially in the winter (which is their summer) because citizens go in the water more often in the summer. So the Australians put nets or "drumlines" about 500 yards out from the shore to keep sharks out.

"Drumlines" are a series of baited hooks that hang from buoys, although they do not guarantee that sharks won't get through.

Hanging from one of these hooks the other day was a 3 m-long shark (pretty big) that was caught on the drumline with two massive bites taken out of it.

So I'm like you, it looks a little photoshopped to me. The shark has definitely been in rough shape, but the water in the bite marks looks odd, the giant through-and-through bites that were taken out of it are absolutely massive and don't seem congruent with shark bites, etc, etc.

A shark will basically thrust at its victim and "stab"it about a thousand times with all its teeth, and then they step back for a bit and let the victim bleed out. This takes the fight out of what they're killing, and then they eat it at leisure. Otherwise, sharks don't have hands, feet or utensils, so when they remove meat from an animal, it's done with ferocious twists and tugs while the meat is in their mouth. The force from the tugging and thrashing (and the sharpness of their teeth) rips the flesh from the body.

In either of these instances - the bite marks probably wouldn't look like this. So I was doubtful rthat this is a legitimate image of the shark that was taken out of the water. More doubts arise when the Telegraph interviews a 19-year-old surfer instead of an icthyologist:

Surfers have reacted to the news of the shark attack with shock.

“Whatever attacked and took chunks out of this big shark must be massive,” said Ashton Smith, 19. “I’ve heard about the big one that’s lurking out there somewhere.

BUT - all of that doubt aside - there are reports that the shark was still alive when it was pulled out of the water. Here's another picture - one which, if it were photoshopped, they did a fantastic job making all the same changes in the identical positions, from a completely new angle.

That's NOT easy, and it adds some legitimacy to the article. So, in light of images such as this, this shark is 3 metres long. Look at the size of its mouth. Imagine how large the shark that bit it must have been to leave bite marks as large as the ones it has suffered.

The articles are suggesting up to 6 metres, which is very huge, but not unprecedented. That being said, you would hope that a monster this big would stick to deeper waters - rather than be 500 yards off the coast of Queensland! Yikes.

And if it's not a shark (as the odd bites might suggest) then what the hell is it? Awesome, scary, and more awesome.

No episode of The Extent last night - and I don't know why. There are a lot of fans waiting for a new episode that was promised for November 11. It's no fun thinking that we've got 8 of the first 9 episodes posted up and we've had to wait almost five weeks for two episodes. Not good.

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