Walter Szulc Jr., in the kayak at left, looks back at the dorsal fin of an approaching shark at Nauset Beach in Massachusetts’ Cape Cod. No injuries were reported in the incident July 7, but beach-goers -- not to mention the kayaker -- admitted to being unnerved.
A great white shark makes a distinctive outline above a diver. The species’ physical appearance, bite pattern and tooth marks make it readily identifiable in recorded unprovoked attacks on humans, according to the report “Responding to the Risk of White Shark Attacks.” When asked about the difference between white sharks and great white sharks, Chris Lowe, director of the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab, said they were the “same critter.” “This is the problem with common names,” he said. “Most scientists just call them white sharks. Besides, we don’t want them to get too cocky thinking they’re ‘greater’ than all the other species.”
A great white shark snatches a bird out of the air near Neptune Islands, Australia. Australia has the highest total number of unprovoked great white shark attacks and fatalities from 1876 to 2008. According to researchers, the continent had 126 total attacks in that time period and 50 of those were fatal. (David Litchfield )
The great white shark has incredible strength and an ability to propel itself, as seen on Discovery Channel’s “Ultimate Air Jaws.” In an attack on a kayaker in early July near Santa Cruz, a great white shark reportedly lifted up the craft with a man in it before chomping the front of the kayak. The force of the attack tossed the kayaker into the water. He was pulled unharmed from the water by a nearby boater. (Discovery Channel)
A diver swims, unmolested, alongside a great white. A new book, “Global Perspectives on the Biology and Life History of the White Sharks” -- the culmination of an international scientific meeting that took place in Hawaii in 2010 -- says that humans are rarely consumed by great whites: “Human divers are often seized by white sharks but usually released without being consumed.” In the “bite and spit hypothesis,” a shark will look upward, mistake a surface diver or surfer for a seal or sea lion, swim rapidly upward, seize the person, spit him or her out and retreat. (William Winram)
A teen girl’s paddleboard shows the bite marks of a shark. The girl was paddleboarding with friends near Catalina Island in early May when the board was bitten several times.