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Luangwa River

Luangwa River

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


A very large Great White ate a spearfisher close to shore near Capetown South Africa on Sunday, seen by a man on the nearby jetty and by his dive partner , this was no accident but a predator seeing a man as prey . Having swum in those waters way back when and witnessed several deliberate attacks on people by somewhat smaller sharks I have no doubt at all that this shark was not mistaking this man for a seal or bunch of fish. He had speared fish on a line nearby and no doubt their blood drew the shark into the area. Seals were often found on the beach near our home with big chunks torn out of their sides and the attacker waiting in the surf for them to return to the water. As kids we knew enough to stay out of the water on those days and keep a wary eye out the rest of the time, though I'm sure our body fat content was pretty low we would have been eaten readily enough.
Gangsters in Capetown in the sixties and early seventies had their own local version of cement boots as they were said to take victims out into False Bay and dump them overboard into the oeponymous Dire Straits off Dire Island. No one ever made it to shore.
Today tourists go there to see the sharks which come up to the boats to feed on fish offered to them, a whole mini industry which thrives on the great numbers of sharks now in the area . There is a total ban on fishing for them which has allowed them to multiply , but perhaps consideration could now be given to allowing a limited hunt , either in a very restricted area such as in a 3 mile strip along popular bathing beaches or with a strict lower size limit. Big Game fishermen from the States have offered as much as 250,000 dollars for the privilege of taking a Great White, surely enough to ensure the preservation of the species , since unlike the ivory trade the value lies in the public legitimate catching rather than in any anonymous product .
Similar problems arise with bears in Canada , crocodiles in Australia and tigers in India. In each case any long term solution must allow free use of a clearly defined territory to each party involved, both humans and their predatory neighbours.

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