“It’s a shark!” they scream as the fin of a great white shark is spotted off the coast of South Carolina. But fear turns to relief as people realize, “Oh, it’s just Katharine the shark.” While that introduction may sound ridiculous, Paul de Gelder once had a close encounter with a shark attack, and he believes that knowledge about sharks can help stop irrational fears over the apex predators of the ocean.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, the higher than usual number of Florida shark attacks in 2014 has some politicians attempting to ban shark fishing and chumming on beaches or anywhere surfers and swimmers may be at play. It’s also being claimed that irresponsible selfies are allowing sharks and dolphins to die because people want to use the poor animals as photo props.
Katharine the Shark just recently marked her one-year anniversary as the internet’s most famous great white shark. In order to prevent shark attacks from the local great white sharks, Ocearch officials use a similar system where satellite tags are attached to the dorsal fins of the ferocious sea creatures. Data can be collected when the sharks pass near the surface of the water. The funny part is that the 2,300-pound shark nicknamed Katharine even has her own Twitter account with the handle @Shark_Katharine.
Since being tagged in 2013, Katharine has traveled 6,778 miles. Katharine the shark was tracked in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, in June before coming back around the tip of Florida and up along the Atlantic coast. Based upon a ping from the tracking system, the great white shark appears to be heading toward Charleston, South Carolina, although it’s possible Katharine will veer further north since her last major update was from Georgia.
Shark attack prevention is all the rage lately, with companies coming up with smart sonars and other gadgets in order to protect our beaches. Former daredevil Navy clearance diver Paul de Gelder lost his arm and leg in a bull shark attack back in 2009, and he believes that knowledge about sharks is the key to understanding, not fear.
“The bottom line is knowledge dispels fear,” de Gelder says. “The more we can teach people, the more they can understand and respect, and be in awe of these animals; the more they’ll fall in love with them, the more they’ll want to protect them, just like Andy and I want to do.”
The shark attack survivor is currently working with Shark Week filmmaker Andy Casagrande on producing Great White Matrix, a documentary that isn’t focused on shark attacks but instead hopes to answer questions about the habits of the great white shark and why they behave as they do.
[Image Via caribbean360.com]