Jaws: great white shark noms rubber seal

Before you object that these pictures are fake or Photoshopped, let me assure you that they’re real; I’ve verified this by SuperSecret methods.  At any rate, as the Daily News reports, photographer Dana Allen towed an artificial seal, made of rubber, behind his boat for three days near Cape Town, South Africa.  And he got a spectacular series of photos of a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) breaching after grabbing the ersatz seal. Have a gander (and click to enlarge):

The shark was estimated at about 13 feet long.

Why is it breaching? Wikipedia has the explanation:

A breach is the result of a high speed approach to the surface with the resulting momentum taking the shark partially or completely clear of the water. This is a hunting technique employed by great white sharks whilst hunting seals. This behavior often takes place on cape fur seals at Seal Island in False Bay, South Africa but due to the randomness of the location of a shark’s breach, it was very hard to document. It was first photographed by Chris Fallows and Rob Lawrence who developed the technique of towing a slow moving seal decoy to trick the sharks to breach. Here, in the region of 600 natural predatory events are recorded annually from April to September each year. The seals swim on the surface and the great white sharks launch their predatory attack from the deeper water below. They can reach speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour (25 mph) and can at times launch themselves more than 10 feet (3.0 m) into the air. Data recorded shows that the sharks are successful in just under 50% of all these natural predatory events. In 2011, a 3 metres (9.8 ft) long shark jumped onto a seven-person research vessel off Seal Island in Mossel Bay. The crew were undertaking a population study using sardines as bait, and the incident was judged to be an accident.

36 Comments

  1. MadScientist
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    In other news: Great White sharks found floating off the coast of South Africa with distended stomachs each containing a large vulcanized pinniped …

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted November 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Its fate was sealed.

      [/Quickly grabs fins and swims away.]

    • the Siliconopolitan
      Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.

      Why not just use a dead seal?

  2. starskeptic
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who tuned in for this year’s shark week saw more of this than what usually gets repeated on cop shows – over and over and over…

    • Pete Moulton
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      I watched some of that. Shark Week’s the only relief from the trash the “Discovery” channel runs for the rest of the year.

      • microraptor
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

        Personally, I wish that they’d remember that there’s actually more species of sharks besides the Great White, Tiger Shark, and Bull Shark once in a while and have some programming on deep-sea sharks or Basking Sharks, or spiny dogfish or something else besides the eleventy millionth episode of Air Jaws and Really Gruesome Shark Attacks That You’re Not Actually At Risk Of Anyway.

  3. gravelinspector
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    OK : Great White versus Rubber Seal is a win for the Elasmobranchii. So, the next match is Great White versus Kitteh, which should be a win for Kitteh?
    (Kitteh has home ground advantage, natch.)
    Plan B … probably won’t work. Shark meat has a reputation for an ammoniac smell, which might be too litter-tray like for Kitteh to nom properly.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Sure you’re not thinking of squid?

      The other other, other white meat.

      (t.o.o.w.m. is ‘long pig’, in my idiolect)

      • microraptor
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        More likely Greenland sharks, which have high levels of urea in their tissues.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        Strange, I’d have expected human to be a fairly red meat – all that stuff about being a “red-blooded male” and so forth, as well as being a mammal. And when I’ve been cut badly enough to see past the yellowish sub-cutaneous fat, it’s looked pretty red too (not terribly surprising, really).
        I’m now just wondering if there is actually any logic at all to “red meat” or “white meat”, though I’m hampered by not really knowing (or caring) which meats are which. [Wikis…] Oh, boring, it’s either a total mish-mash of semantics (not to mention the French “black meat”), or myoglobin content (which doesn’t always give the “right” answer compared to other opinions). It’s a food question ; not worth following further.

  4. Posted November 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    This might avert my plans to attend the 2013 Cape Town Tubing Sports Festival.

  5. Michael Fisher
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    The Safarious page for him says this:-

    Dana Allen was born in California and raised as a global citizen. As a youth he travelled widely, visiting and living in numerous countries around the world. Acquiring his first camera at the age of 12, Dana’s passion for photography has never dimmed. He studied Fine Art Photography in Arizona and was awarded both a Bachelors and a Masters Degree with highest honours. Dana has taught photography in Universities both in the United States and Zimbabwe. Enthused with the environment and its inhabitants, Dana is dedicated to portraying the natural world around us. He founded PhotoSafari in 1991 and has specialized in photographing wildlife, landscapes and tourism activities in Africa ever since. Millions of viewers have enjoyed his images through various publications, cards, calendars and books

    HERE is Dana’s PhotoSafari Gallery page [each image leading to sub-selections] ~ I particularly like his Black&White sub-gallery ~ but that’s my taste

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Having said I prefer B&W I was rather tickled by THIS bird “captured” by Dana.

    In the spirit of following your site guidelines Jerry… Could you please embed the image in my post to save people having to click through?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      I mean “my comment” not “my post”

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      Hmmm. Tiny red gloves that match her rather generously applied lipstick.

      Could this be Dame Edna re-inventing herself?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:18 am | Permalink

        Very good! My thought was s/he’s waiting for her date to turn up ~ the back story being that the date took one look at what was waiting under the clock & scarpered

        • JohnnieCanuck
          Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          Under the clock. That would be the Birk’s clock if it were downtown Vancouver, BC. It’s a century old tradition in a city not much older.

  7. marksolock
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  8. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    We’re going to need a bigger boat.

  9. Ichthyic
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    In this case, I really can truthfully say…

    Been there, Done that.

    I used to be the science director for the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation in CA, and we used to use a fake seal on a line to draw the sharks in closer to the boat to tag them.

    PSRF is still there:

    http://www.pelagic.org/

    …and Sean (who used to be a commercial fisherman, but has been devoted to shark conservation for almost 20 years now), is always happy to answer questions.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:04 am | Permalink

      FWIW, I still have a picture of my favorite moment, when I was eye-eye with a spy-hopping female white shark about 5m long:

      Carcharodon carcharias face

      alas, doing research on white sharks doesn’t pay nearly as much as one might think, given the impressions generated by things like Disco Channel’s “shark week”.

  10. pktom64
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    I, once more, will promote an awesome French movie but this time it isn’t OT… 🙂

    Oceans
    youtube.com/watch?v=uXLbQrK6cXw

    It is really a great docu and I’m almost certain that at one point we see a great white shark jumping above the water like in those pictures.
    You gotta see this film!

  11. marvol19
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    I hope this is a stupid question, but, is eating that rubber seal not in some way bad for the shark?

    I’m a bit worried about ‘science’ involving poisoning a vulnerable species just to get some cool photos to post on Tinterwebs for people’s amusement. That would be sickening, not science.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:42 am | Permalink

      A bit like this

    • JBlilie
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      I don’t think Carcharodon carcharias is threatened in that area anymore. (The oracle of Wikiness says it’s listed as Vulnerable as a species.)

      They are making a huge comeback on the west coast of the US as well: Many seen as far north as Washington State and southern BC. As soon as humans stopped killing off the large sea mammals, the sharks came back too.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        meh, the range is extending, but the numbers haven’t exactly seen a “huge” increase over the last couple of decades.

        but I will say they at least aren’t in decline any more, and that is more attributable to protections placed on fishing for the sharks themselves (it’s illegal to hunt white sharks in CA).

    • Jon Hendry
      Posted December 1, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Aren’t great whites known for being found to have tires, license plates, and other debris in their bellies?

      • Ichthyic
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        that’s pretty much an overblown myth.

        things like that HAVE been found in shark stomachs (not just whites), but it is quite rare, and they certainly don’t hunt junk.

        the primary foods of white sharks are marine mammals (especially pinnipeds) and fish/squid.

        • microraptor
          Posted December 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          Aren’t tiger sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks the species that are really associated with eating garbage more than great whites?

          • Ichthyic
            Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

            yup. though whites HAVE been found with garbage in them too.

  12. JBlilie
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    It’s either Blue Planet or Planet Earth from the BBC that has amazing high-speed camera footage of exactly this sort of great white shark attack. It is truly impressive and awe-inspiring. The gauntlet those seals have to run twice every day to go out and feed is daunting.

    A couple of years ago, I gave my young son a real fossil Carcharodon megalodon tooh, about 4-inches (10 cm) long. Again, truly impressive. When you think of the beast that wielded a set of teeth like that! Wow.

    Definitely NOT safe to go back into the water!

    • Ichthyic
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      megalodon_jaws

      • Ichthyic
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        megalodon

  13. mday
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Should we (humans) really be ticking off these honking enormous great white sharks? Jerry, how would you feel if someone put a slice of rubber corned beef in your New York deli sandwich? :-/

  14. Pamela Turner
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    So we have someone teasing an endangered animal with fake food, causing the animal to expend energy on a breach, just to get a photograph. This sort of yahoo behavior is unfortunately typical where sharks are concerned and I wish that had been pointed out in this post.

  15. Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    As JBlilie mentioned, BBC Planet Earth made some beautiful hi-speed camera shots of this shark behavior. But with real seals, not rubber ones. Here’s the footage:


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