A 500kg great white shark almost made a meal out of a marine researcher and her crew when it jumped on to their boat near Seal Island, off Mossel Bay.
Seconds earlier, the six-member Oceans Research team, headed by field specialist Dorien Schroder, had been chumming with sardines to bring sharks closer to identify them for a population dynamics study.
Schroder said there had been a lot of activity around the boat and they had recorded data on at least four sharks, including one named Pasella, frequently seen in the bay since 2008.
She said that after a while activity around the boat ceased and everything appeared very quiet.
“The next thing I heard a splash and saw a white shark breach out of the water from side of the boat. It was literally hovering over a crew member who was chumming on the boat’s port side.” It landed half in the boat.
Schroder immediately pulled the crew member to safety to the stern of the boat’s platform and the rest of the team scrambled behind.
The team hoped the shark would thrash its way out, but the panicked 3m-long fish worked itself into the boat wedging itself between into the 1.5mx2m back deck area.
She said the shark thrashed around on the deck and destroyed equipment and cutting the fuel lines.
After calming the crew, the team used the railing to edge past the shark to the safety of the bow.
A calm Schroder radioed for help and renowned shark scientists Enrico Gennari and Ryan Johnson assembled a team and went to the crew’s assistance. During this time, Schroder kept the shark alive by pouring water over its gills.
Fifteen minutes later, the shark scientists arrived and they tried to get the shark back into the water.
They secured a rope around the shark’s tail and tried unsuccessfully to pull it into the water.
Schroder’s boat, had to be towed back to the harbour with the shark on board. At the harbour, a water hose was immediately placed inside sharks mouth to ventilate its gills and the port authority was requested to get a crane to lift the 500kg shark out of the boat and it was released.
But, the drama did not end there, as the shark swam onto a small beach inside the harbour. Gennari and Johnson first tried to “walk” it out of the harbour , but it was disorientated and they then tied a rope to its tail. After towing it gently until they were a kilometre from the harbour, it regained its strength and swam away powerfully, Schroder said. - Daily News