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Category: Sharks

Fish and Game Q&A: Are bang sticks legal to use in self-defense against sharks?

White shark In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: We are spearfish divers and are wondering if bang sticks or powerheads are legal to use in self-defense against sharks approaching us. They are like a fold-out stick with a bullet at the end. You press the stick against a shark if it comes in too short, and it fires. There are many companies that will ship them to California but I heard they are a firearm and must be registered. I’ve also heard that because of what they are used for, they are legal and don’t need to be registered. I’ve called a few local police departments to ask but they have no idea. (Christopher)

Answer: California Fish and Game law does not prohibit possession of these devices. However, according to retired Department of Fish and Game Capt. Phil Nelms, bang sticks and/or powerheads that use an explosive cartridge are firearms. Firearms are not a legal method of take for sharks and can’t be used to take or land sharks, or any other species of fish.

Q: I have a disability in my right eye which prevents me from being able to view through the peep sights on my bow. However, I’ve learned to use my left eye for shooting my rifle, and have practiced with a crossbow. I would like to be able to hunt during the archery season with my crossbow. How can I legally do this? (Erik, Laytonville)

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'Shark Men' premieres Sunday on National Geographic Channel

Expedition leader Chris Fischer, marine biologist Michael Domeier and crew are back for another season of "Shark Men," premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Channel with two hourlong episodes. Additional episodes will follow, airing at 10 p.m. on Sunday nights through June 12.

Though the name of the series has changed (it was “Expedition Great White” last year) the focus is still the same -- attempting to learn more about the mysterious great white shark and its life cycle -- where the sharks are born, where they migrate, how they mate, and where they congregate.

Using a specially designed, 126-foot-long mothership that includes a 37-ton hydraulic platform for hoisting a living shark out of the ocean, the crew returns to Mexico's Guadalupe Island, 160 miles west of Baja California, in the hopes of landing, tagging and releasing sharks -- specifically females -- alive. This season, they also secure a permit to hook a white shark at Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of San Francisco, and also travel to just off the shores of Malibu, hoping to catch juvenile great white sharks in an effort to learn more about the younger years of the apex predator's life cycle. 

"Shark Men" episode descriptions through April are after the jump (the rest of the descriptions are still pending):

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Texas angler shocked when 375-pound mako shark leaps into boat

Jason Kresse with the 375-pound, 8-foot long mako shark that leapt into his boat. A Texas angler landed a 375-pound mako shark, all without casting a line.

Freeport resident Jason Kresse, 29, and two others were fishing for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico early Monday and were chumming the water with fish parts when they heard some big splashes nearby.

"All of a sudden something hit the side of the boat," Kresse told Associated Press. "He ends up landing on the back of the boat." The "he" was an 8-foot-long mako shark.

No one could even get near the thrashing mako to try to get it back in the water, and the shark ended up dying on board.

The crew didn't have a permit to catch sharks, so Kresse contacted officials on shore. Mike Cox, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman, said that there was no violation because the shark's death was an accident.

The shark has been put on display at an area seafood company, and Kresse is getting a mount made to go with his amazing fishing tale.

"A fish jumping in your boat, 400 pounds, that's unbelievable," Kresse said.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Jason Kresse with the 375-pound, 8-foot-long mako shark that leapt into his boat. Credit: Jason Kresse via Associated Press


U.S. led the world in shark attacks last year

Great white shark prowls the waters near Guadalupe Island off Baja California.

The U.S. led the world again in the number of shark attacks last year, according to a University of Florida report released this week.

Worldwide, 79 attacks occurred in 2010 -- the highest number since 2000 (80) -- with 36 reported in the United States. Australia was second with 14, then South Africa with eight and Vietnam and Egypt with six each.

While Florida led the nation with 13 reported attacks, this total was significantly lower than the state's yearly average of 23 over the past decade.

"Florida had its lowest total since 2004, which was 12," said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the university. Florida typically has the highest number of attacks worldwide, but 2010 marked the state’s fourth straight year of decline, Burgess said. "Maybe it’s a reflection of the downturn in the economy and the number of tourists coming to Florida, or the amount of money native Floridians can spend taking holidays and going to the beach."

Of those attacks in the U.S. outside of Florida, five were in North Carolina, with four each in California, Hawaii and South Carolina. There were single attacks in Georgia, Maine, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Surfers were the victims of slightly more than half of the incidents reported worldwide in 2010, nearly 51% of the cases. An economic downturn will usually influence tourists but not necessarily surfers, whose sport is relatively low-cost, Burgess said.

Swimmers and waders were the second-largest group affected, accounting for nearly 38% of the shark attacks internationally.

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Study suggesting sharks are color-blind could help prevent attacks

Shark New research on how sharks see suggests that the predators are color-blind, a discovery that may help prevent attacks on surfers, swimmers and other ocean-sport enthusiasts.

Using a technique called micro-spectrophotometry -- which measured the light-sensitive cells in the eyes -- the joint study, conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia and the University of Queensland, looked at the potential for color vision in numerous shark species caught off Queensland and Western Australia and concluded that they have only one type of cone photoreceptor in the retina.

"Humans have three cone types that are sensitive to blue, green and red light, respectively, and by comparing signals from the different cone types we get the sensation of color vision," Nathan Hart, associate research professor at the University of Western Australia, said in a news release. "However, we found that sharks have only a single cone type and by conventional reckoning this means that they don't have color vision."

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Fish and Game Q&A: Is it unlawful to use night-vision equipment while legally hunting?

Bobcat

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I have an important question regarding the use of "passive" night-vision equipment when legally night-hunting nongame mammals and nongame birds in the state of California. My research indicates that it is perfectly legal to hunt nongame mammals (e.g. coyote and bobcat) using passive (which means it does not project an infrared beam of light or other artificial light) night-vision equipment (e.g. rifle scopes, binoculars, etc.) that do not conflict with the California Penal Code for legal possession.

If you believe that my conclusions are in error, please state the applicable regulation and specific verbiage in the law. For the record, is it illegal to use any type of night-vision equipment in the state of California while legally hunting big game or nongame animals? Yes or no? (Rick B.)

Answer: Yes, it is unlawful to use or possess at any time any infrared or similar light used in connection with an electronic viewing device or any night-vision equipment or optical devices. According to Department of Fish and Game Ret. Capt. Phil Nelms, this includes but is not limited to binoculars or scopes that use light-amplifying circuits that are electrical- or battery-powered to assist in the taking of birds, mammals, amphibians or fish (Fish and Game Code section 2005(c).

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Fish and Game Q&A: What to do with pesky coyotes?

Coyote sightings in and around urban areas have become common. In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: For the past 10 months, our neighborhood in Encinitas has been overrun by coyotes. Who can we work with to mitigate the situation before someone gets hurt? (Ken S.)

Answer: Coyotes and other wildlife cannot and should not be removed just because there may appear to be too many in a community. If they are congregating, the problem may be that your neighbors are being careless with food and garbage, which serve as attractants. Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to keep rodent populations under control. They are by nature fearful of humans.

Coyotes primarily hunt rodents and rabbits for food but will take advantage of whatever is available, including garbage, pet food and domestic animals. If coyotes are given access to human food and garbage, their behavior changes. They lose caution and fear and may cause property damage or threaten human safety. When this happens and they threaten humans or begin preying on domestic livestock or pets, they may be killed.

Relocating a problem coyote is not an option because it only moves the problem to someone else’s neighborhood.

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Diver videotapes extremely close encounter with shark

 

A scuba diver got an unexpected and shocking surprise Saturday while diving near Eastport, off the eastern tip of Maine, when a porbeagle shark apparently mistook his camera equipment for food.

Scott MacNichol, 30, was uninjured but definitely shaken up by the encounter (you can hear him screaming), which he caught on video.

MacNichol saw the shark swimming above him while he was filming the ocean floor and taking samples from empty salmon pens at Broad Cove as part of an environmental assessment for Cooke Aquaculture.

"That shark wasn't there for the salmon. There were no fish, no food," MacNichol told the Bangor Daily News. "It circled me two times and then began jabbing at my camera."

MacNichol estimated that the shark was 8 feet long and weighed 300 pounds.

"I've seen plenty of sharks around here chasing mackerel and herring. That's not uncommon," said MacNichol, who has been diving for 17 years. "But this is the first time I've seen one while diving. And the first time one came after me."

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Funeral, memorial service and ocean paddle-out to be held for Lucas Ransom; shark identified as great white

Lucas2 The family of 19-year-old shark-attack victim Lucas Ransom will hold a viewing, rosary and funeral Mass Wednesday at 5 p.m. at St. James Catholic Church, 269 W. 3rd Street in Perris.

On Thursday, a separate memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. at Evans-Brown Mortuary, 27010 Encanto Drive in Sun City, just south of the family's home in Romoland.

And at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, family and friends will gather at the south side of the Oceanside Pier in Oceanside, where a paddle-out will be held to scatter flowers into the Pacific Ocean in Ransom's memory.

All events are open to the public.

Ransom was attacked by a shark and died from his injuries Friday while body-boarding with a friend off Surf Beach at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

On Monday, California Department of Fish and Game officials said they are all but certain that the attack was likely by a great white shark.

"It would be highly surprising if it was anything else," Fish and Game marine biologist Carrie Wilson told The Press-Enterprise. "Typically when these things occur, it's a case of mistaken identity. These sharks really don't have much interest in humans. We're too skinny compared to seals and sea lions," Wilson said. "They want the blubber and high meat content."

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Surf Beach, site of Friday's fatal shark attack, reopens

Board Vandenberg Air Force Base's Surf Beach, which was closed Friday after the fatal shark attack on 19-year-old Lucas Ransom, reopened to the public at 8 a.m. Monday.

A statement issued by the base said that during the three-day closure period, which included nearby Wall and Minuteman beaches, base conservation law enforcement officers increased patrols of the beaches and that there were no observed or reported shark sightings.

In addition to existing signage identifying no lifeguard on duty and outlining beach rules, officials said they will post additional signs at the beaches reading, "Warning: recent shark attack -- swim, surf at your own risk."

Minuteman and Wall beaches, accessible only to base personnel, remain closed as part of an order halting all outdoor recreational activities in order to facilitate events related to Vandenberg's two-week operational-readiness and unit-compliance inspections, which began Sunday.

Ransom, a UC Santa Barbara student, was in the water with a friend about 100 yards offshore Friday morning when a shark bit his left leg off. His friend brought Ransom to shore, but his injuries were too severe and Ransom bled to death.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Lucas Ransom's bodyboard shows the shark bite. Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department

RELATED: 

Body boarder fatally attacked by shark in Santa Barbara County; area beaches closed [Updated]

 

Body boarder fatally attacked by shark in Santa Barbara County; area beaches closed [Updated]

Attack

A 19-year-old man was fatally attacked by a shark while body-boarding north of Santa Barbara on Friday morning.

[Updated at 3:04 p.m.: The victim has been identified as Lucas McKaine Ransom of Romoland in Riverside County.]

The attack occurred between 9 and 9:30 a.m. at Surf Beach, west of Lompoc at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Officials ordered the closure of Surf, Wall and Minuteman beaches for at least 72 hours due to the attack.

A base spokesman told L.A. Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein that Santa Barbara County coroner's investigators were at the beach and that the investigation is being handled in conjunction with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

The Santa Maria Times reports that the victim, a UC Santa Barbara student, was in the water with a friend about 100 yards offshore when a shark bit part of his left leg off, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

The friend brought the victim to shore, but his injuries were severe and he bled to death, Brown said.

Federal and State Fish and Game officials are working to identify the type of shark, which was described as being 14 to 20 feet in length.

-- Kelly Burgess

twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Airmen 1st class Daniel Clark, left, and Staff Sgt. Keri Embry post a sign warning surfers of a shark attack Friday at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Associated Press

Fish and Game Q&A: Will painting my kayak scare away great white sharks?

Shark images 008 In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column. NOTE: This is Carrie's column from last Thursday, when I was on vacation and unavailable to publish it:

Question: I bought a former scuba kayak and have retrofitted it into a fishing kayak. I transformed the underside into what appears to be the underside of a killer whale (orca) because I figure if I’m going to be spending lots of idle time fishing, I don’t want, in any way, to attract the attention of great whites! The underside was totally white but now the outer edges are black with a small black patch at the rear so that it looks just like the characteristic underside of a killer whale. I also rigged up my two fins to drag out the back in case I ever found myself in dire need.

My reasoning here is killer whales and great whites are natural enemies, so if I paint the bottom like an orca, any great white within several hundred yards will take off. As I thought more about this aspect though, I now wonder if while I’m sitting in this thing for long periods of time, will I be more apt to be a target rather than a threat? Has there been any evidence of great whites attacking dead killer whales just like they attack dead regular whales? I’m wondering now if I am a soon-to-be "dead duck" instead of a brilliant kayak engineer! Please advise. Thanks. (Mark)

Answer: Well, I can safely say I’ve never gotten a letter and questions quite like yours, but it’s a refreshing change from the many regulation questions! I applaud your kayak engineering prowess. However, I’m not sure painting the hull of your kayak to resemble the underbelly of an orca, along with attaching fins that mysteriously drag out the back, will spook a white shark or prevent an attack.

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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