Wednesday, March 14, 2012

4.3m shark killed by ropes off Fish Hoek

From Pretoria News: 4.3m shark killed by ropes off Fish Hoek
A FEMALE great white shark has died after it became entangled in ropes attached to sea snail traps off Fish Hoek.

The shark was about 4.3m long and got caught up yesterday morning, said Alan Boyd, the director for biodiversity and coastal research at the Department of Environmental Affairs.

“Apparently it got entangled, not into the traps, but in lines attached to the nets.”

“The traps are (usually) set near Clovelly,” he said, adding that the shark was dead when it reached the harbour.

The carcass had been towed into the Simon’s Town naval base by a Department of Environmental Affairs ship, with the assistance of the disaster risk management centre, said spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes.

He said it was then transported to Paarden Eiland where scientists would determine the cause of death.

Brandon Kilbride who works for a local shark operator, said whelk nets had been placed off Fish Hoek by crew of the Boy Johan, a boat based at Kalk Bay harbour.

“I spoke to the skipper. They set out the nets the night before. At about 10.30 this morning they starting pulling up the nets and found the shark,” he said.

Kilbride said it had apparently been attracted to the whelk trap by an attached canister containing bait.

Kalk Bay harbour master Pat Stacey said that he too had spoken to the skipper of Boy Johan, a privately-owned boat.

“They have a permit to catch whelks. They set about 20 to 30 of these traps in the bay more than a kilometre offshore of Fish Hoek. The great white shark must have smelled the bait in the trap and got entangled in the rope.”

Kilbride disputed the distance Stacey mentioned and said buoys attached to the whelk nets could be seen about 450m from the beach.

He added that bait used in the traps could attract sharks.

Stacey said: “We are looking at more or less, but absolutely not 450m. I’d say about 1.5km.”

He said the traps have to be submerged in water at least 10m deep and that such a depth would not be possible 450m off Fish Hoek beach.

Nan Rice of the Whale and Dolphin Protection Group said: “It is such a beautiful animal. What a terrible waste.”

The Boy Johan’s skipper Moegamat Cozyn could not be reached.

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