Great white jumps on to research boat
The 1,100-pound great white shark sits in the stern of a South African research boat.
July 20th, 2011
01:15 PM ET

Great white jumps on to research boat

Shark researchers in South Africa didn't have to go far Tuesday to find a specimen - a 10-foot great white shark leaped into the back of their boat. And rather than a story of the big one that got away, this is a story of a big one they couldn't get rid of.

The boat, from Ocean's Research in Mossel Bay on South Africa's southern coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, was chumming in the waters around Seal Island and monitoring the activity of four sharks as part of an ongoing study, researchers reported on their blog.

“Next thing I know I hear a splash, and see a white shark breach out of the water from the side of the boat hovering, literally, over the crewmember who was chumming on the boat's port side,” field specialist Dorien Schroder wrote on the blog. He pulled the crewmember to safety while others jumped out of the way of the 1,100-pound shark.

Schroder said the shark landed with only half of its body on the boat, and the crew hoped it would slide off. This shark, however, wanted to hang around.

The shark thrashed about and became stuck in a 5-by-6.5-foot area on the stern of the boat, cutting the vessel's fuel lines in the process.

Schroder's crew on the Cheetah radioed for help from other researchers aboard the boat Laminade. Schroder poured water on the shark's gills to keep it alive as they waited 15 minutes for help to arrive. Researchers then tied a rope around the shark's tail and tried to use the Laminade to pull it off the Cheetah to no avail.

After the Laminade towed the Cheetah back to port, a water hose was inserted into the shark's mouth to keep it alive as a fishing boat used its crane to lift the animal by its tail and drop it in the harbor.

Shark tale over, right? Not quite.

About a half hour later, the researchers found the shark beached on a small area in the harbor.

Two researchers, Enrico Gennari and Ryan Johnson, tried to walk the animal into deeper water. The shark was having none of it, but the researchers weren't about to give up.

The attached ropes from their boat to the shark's tail and pectoral fins, tilted its head up so its gills could work properly, and towed it about a half-mile outside the harbor, where the shark regained strength and swam away.

Researchers were satisfied.

"It is impossible to predict everything that can happen," they said on the blog. "What is important is how you respond to such situation. No one was injured and the shark survived, this is a credit to our team, the port authorities and members of the community who assisted."

And they do have a whale of a shark story to tell their kids.

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Filed under: Animals • Sharks • South Africa
soundoff (343 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Maybe the shark wanted to take a pleasure cruise. They've seen us having all the fun in our boats, and they decided it's high time we let them in on it. Swimming all the time, without a break, is also hard work. One has to realize that swimming gets old; therefore, it's probably natural for a shark to want a little time off now and then. The shark may have viewed the cruise/research boat as the perfect opportunity for him to get some sun while taking a nice, long nap. Then again, maybe he just wanted the publicity. "Hey, look at me! You've been paying attention to all these other sharks. Well I'm here too. If you won't come to me, I'll come to you. I've always wanted to be on TV and in the news. Well, here I am!" I think that's what happened.

    July 21, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Chr

      Right...the shark put itself in the position to die so it could ride on a boat....

      July 21, 2011 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. Shannon Nutt

    You go in cage? Cage go in the water. You in the water. Shark's in the water. Our Shark.

    July 21, 2011 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
    • JustThinkinOutloud

      The sharks can smell the menstration.

      July 21, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. blowhole

    Jaws just thought he'd have himself a manwich...

    July 21, 2011 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. BuckElvis

    You do know the shark died. They just drug it out half a mile so they did not have to know it died and felt better about wasting half their day.

    July 21, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave Sampson

    If I was the shark I would've eaten the crew members and used their boat for an illegal gambling operation in international waters, once the coast guard caught wind of it the shark could just jump back into the ocean where no one could find it. He missed out on some major profits

    July 21, 2011 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    cool that the movie Jaws

    July 21, 2011 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. JC

    Ahahaha. Maybe he / she was just feeling a bit chummy?

    Anyway, I would have LOVED to see the guy who was just pulled out of the way's expression.

    July 21, 2011 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • RadarTheKat

      They saved the shark but you killed the english language. "way's?" Really?

      July 21, 2011 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      He meant it as 's expression

      Through the use of the english language he clearly conveyed his message perfectly to me. Perhaps you need to be less of a tightass with your reading skills?

      July 21, 2011 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Seems they don't like using angle brackets here. He meant (guy who was just got pulled out of the way)'s expression.

      July 21, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • John Sheehan

      The grammar of the sentence in question is clearly a malcontraption and a misuse of the pluperfect imperative. The sentence should instead read, "...the guy (the one they pulled out of the way)'s expression..." This preserves the proper use of the possessiveness. I wish I could diagram this for you, but, alas, Im' two busily writing a new grimmer book for my literacies' course's.

      July 21, 2011 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. Fupped Duck

    New episode of "The Love Boat" coming soon.

    July 21, 2011 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Anya

    The poor guy must have been having some breathing problems to be trying to escape the water that badly. In any case, I'm glad it ended well for all involved. Humans have a such a beautiful capacity to help the world around us, it's nice to see us actually do it once in a while.

    July 21, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. pd4646

    Have you heard of sharks commiting suicide? well this is it!

    July 21, 2011 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mark

    Am I the only one that thinks that would be absolutely HORRIFYING? lol

    July 21, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Wow

    I am really impressed with the crew's attempts at helping the shark back into its environment. Hopefully the shark made it.

    July 21, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Extremophil

    Somone pass me the net, this one's a keeper!

    July 21, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    100 years from nowhistory will hold Steven Spielberg responsible for bringing the Great White and many other species of shark to extinction after tens of millions of years in the worlds oceans. Six people die from shark attack each year, yet humans kill millions of sharks for sport and out of the misconceived notion that they are a direct threat to mankind, all thanks to the movie "Jaws". Nice legacy, Steven.

    July 21, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • phorse

      What a bone head. Joe I mean, not Steven. As if people weren't killing sharks prior to the movie "Jaws." On to reality: Those species that are in trouble I'm guessing are so mainly because they're caught in nets unintentionally(which is a whole separate issue), and/or they're being overfished as food source. I'd being willing to bet that sport fishing and "vengeance killing" is putting a rather small dent in shark populations.

      July 21, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joseph

    Isn't shark week starting at the end of the month? Great promo for that.

    July 21, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
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