Footage of an aggressive great white shark attacking a film crew in New Zealand has re-emerged amid a heated debate about the role of cage diving on Stewart Island and its long term effects on the local shark population.
Shark experts Andy Casagrande and Jeff Kerr were in a small inflatable dinghy while filming a documentary for Discovery Channel, Lair Of The Mega Shark, according to the New Zealand Herald. They were approached by a large, six-meter-long white shark, which bumped into their boat, attempting to bite into the line securing it to their ship. After wrestling with the line, the shark swam off before others of its species arrived to examine the film crew’s bait.
Though Lair Of The Mega Shark aired last year, as the Mirror reports, images of the incident have recently made their way back online amid heightened debate over shark cage diving at Stewart Island. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, the great whites that call the region home, thought to number over 100, have shown notable behavioral changes in recent years, becoming more aggressive in the eyes of local fishermen. Many on the island attribute this to the presence of two cage diving companies, which lure the sharks with bait.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) April 26, 2015
Locals contend that the white sharks have increasingly been observed bumping into boats, stealing fish and biting buoys. Fishermen who have plied the waters for years say that the sharks didn’t exhibit these behaviors a decade ago, calling them a recent change. Fisherman Richard Squires noted that he and his crew had been attacked twice by large white sharks.
“A shark came up and bit a buoy on the stern of the vessel, it came charging out of the water with its mouth open,” he recalled.
— Calypso Star Charter (@sharkcagediving) April 23, 2015
New Zealand First MPs Clayton Mitchell and Winston Peters traveled to Stewart Island earlier this week for a public meeting on the issue of shark cage diving. Calling for a moratorium on the practice until its effects on the white sharks could be understood, they claimed that a comprehensive study on the impact of cage diving is required.
“When you start bringing the sharks in close to your boat for the thrill-seekers, like any animal their behavior becomes modified.”
Allan Munn, Department of Conservation director of services for the South Island, countered their point, however, pointing out that the permitting system currently in place has made cage diving much safer. Saying it was “highly unlikely” that great white shark behavior had changed as a result of the practice, he also noted that “sharks have been coming into the area since time immemorial.”
[Image: Discovery via the New Zealand Herald]