In the latest Great White shark sighting, a fisherman was likely thinking this: “I’m gonna need a bigger boat.”
Was the sub-like Goliath in British waters a great white shark sighting or some other feared terrifying man-eater caught on tape recently?
Nigel Hodge, 44, thinks the shark he saw, measuring some 14-feet, was indeed an oceanic great white; nothing else came to mind that could rival the shark’s size. The trouble is, white sharks, especially those reaching those lengths, are not known to frequent waters along Britain’s coastline.
Hodge, who operates fishing and boating charter service, was ambling along in his vessel recently when he spotted what looked like a shark just on the port’s side of his boat. He grabbed his video camera and began filming the slow-moving shark before it vanished into the depths.
“I was fishing on the starboard side and went to the port side to get the deck hose when I saw it.”
Hodge uploaded the footage to the internet and it set off fears that a killer great white shark was lurking in foreign waters and poses a threat to humans. He then took to his Facebook page to poll others about arriving at a consensus over the great white shark sighting, according to Western Morning News.
Is this a great white off Falmouth, Cornwall?
“If the fish was 14ft long, it probably was a great white — it wouldn’t be the first off Falmouth,” said David Turner, a shark specialist and author of The Shark Fisherman.
“Looks like a small great white. The more I look at it, the more it looks like a great white,” wrote shark aficionado Roger Bowring.
The mystique surrounding great white shark attacks can be traced back to the 1975 movie, Jaws, now a cult cinema mainstay. The science fiction film was based on a menacing white that roamed along the coast of a beach town, wreaking havoc along the way by snatching unsuspecting swimmers.
Today, Shark Week and the new fascination with Megladon keep the myth and fears alive. However, based on shark attack statistics from the FLMNH, there have only been 279 white shark attacks, worldwide, between the years 1580 and 2013, with 78 fatalities.
This represents about 1.5 annual incidents (fatal/non-fatal) since the start of record-keeping. One could argue that the fears of being attacked by a white shark are irrational. Experts at the Florida Museum of Natural History agree.
“These data do NOT support an increase in the per capita attack rate by Carcharodon carcharias.”
Furthermore, statistics in all of Europe for great white shark attacks are more encouraging. The raw numbers show that between the years 1847 and 2013, only 49 all-shark species attacks occurred, with only 49 fatalities. The United Kingdom has recorded only two shark attacks, and has never had a loss of life.
“We have yet to have a verified sighting of white sharks in our waters. We do have an environment that is suitable,” said Ali Hood, director of Marine conservation.
Still, a shark sighting, whether it results an attack or not, is unsettling to fisherman and beachgoers.
[Image via: Wikimedia Commons]