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Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

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RickI
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Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby RickI » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:54 pm

A pair of FAU researchers sighted several thousand blacktip sharks off Palm Beach County last week. The Sunsentinel wrote about it and put together a video clip. I asked one of the researchers a series of questions about sighting trends and distribution of the massive blacktip schools and the occurrence of larger, potentially more aggressive bull and tiger sharks feeding on the migration. Kiter Steve Schaffer is thought to have suffered fatal wounds from one of these larger sharks following the migration in 2010. More about all of this


** HERE **



Image


Image
Blacktip sharks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:C._limbatus.JPG


.

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Bille
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Re: Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby Bille » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:29 pm

RickI wrote:... Kiter Steve Schaffer is thought to have suffered fatal wounds from one of these larger sharks following the migration in 2010. More about all of this

...

.


I remember that story . Are you indicating that he went out kiting
when the water was filled with that large-a number of fish to feed on ?

Bille

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RickI
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Re: Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby RickI » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:35 pm

It may not have been quite that obvious in advance. The things we know, the blacktip migration was underway. Sightings had been made of thousands of sharks a few days earlier off Singer Island miles to the south. The thing is these guys show up and vanish, then show up again. Further, when the weather is calmer, Gulfstream is closer to shore all that clear water off Singer Island shows up the sharks nicely. In more turbid conditions, typical off South Hutchinson Island where Steve was attacked, masses of sharks may not have been visible at all. It is a normally fairly sharky place to begin with. You can see thousands of smaller blacktips nearshore in clear water but may not even be aware of the larger, more aggressive sharks that ride herd and feed on the shorter tiburons. Beyond that surfers along this section of coast have developed a substantial tolerance to the presence of sharks despite lesser attacks over the years. The lifeguard who rescued Steve was himself attacked and hospitalized as a teen. There have been other attacks on surfers up and down the coast, often of fairly minor nature.

So, if the 1) migration is on, your risk goes up. If you see 2) sharks jumping and spinning, your risk goes up further. If you see 3) baitfish breaking the surface, diving sea birds, your risk just jumped again. If you are out a 4) sunset, more risk still. Blacktips apparently don't like the way we taste and so may just bite once and run off. Hope they don't bite something critical if they do however. The larger bulls and tigers may bite once or several times and with a larger bite radius may do more damage. They seem to have a tendency to strike your thigh, butt area, likely to stop you from swimming off but also possibly severing your femoral artery as happened to Steve and another kiter in the Pacific. There is nothing cut and dried about any of this, just subjective risk assessments and further, shark attacks on kiters are still very rare. Then again, riding in the midst of thousands of sharks would seem to up your risk substantially, busting out of the normal statistics, making you a "special case".

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Re: Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby jats2k9 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:50 pm

Well this has just cancelled the session I planned to have this weekend. How can we know when the migration is gone.

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Re: Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby jats2k9 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:50 pm

Well this has just cancelled the session I planned to have this weekend. How can we know when the migration is gone.

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RickI
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Re: Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby RickI » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:08 pm

The migration usually goes into March. I believe there are some sharks in the vicinity when we're in the water in SE Florida year round and in many other areas too for that matter. If there is clear evidence of a concentration of blacktips off your area or moving into it, bait being worked, avoiding kiting there makes sense. Just because you don't see them, doesn't mean they aren't there however. Even if they are there, this doesn't equate to being attacked. Then again, checkout the kite mounted gopro clip at the link above. The sharks pretty much chased the kiter after many of his transitions. Fall off your board and they might just hit you by "mistake." Then there are the larger predators swimming along to consider. Some water folks ignore the migration, most will be fine, some may not be based on past experience and reason. Rider's choice.

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Re: Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby jats2k9 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:17 pm

I can't find the link for the video

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RickI
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Re: Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby RickI » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:36 pm

The kite video clip is in the third post from the top at

http://fksa.org/showthread.php?t=10379

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Re: Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby dyyylan » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:01 am

Well... glad I kited until dark the last few days and couldn't see under the water....

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RickI
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Re: Thousands of migrating sharks are back in SE Florida

Postby RickI » Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:46 am

I hear you Dylan. Last Friday I went kiting at sunset 3/4 mile south of where Steve Schaffer was attacked. I drove up special to try to catch some sunset kite and helmet images. Had no idea the blacktip migration was already underway. If I had known, I wouldn't have gone up. The paper carried the photo with all the sharks the day before but I had missed it. As it was I did see about a 4 to 5 ft. lemon shark cruising solo across my path in shallow water as I made down the coast to Bathtub Reef. I popped a low long jump over it, hoping to get some photos but mysteriously it didn't show up even shuttering once per second. In hindsight it was a dumb thing to do as sharks might be startled into attacking from the noise of the landing. Usually sharks are running away not plodding along in front of me offering a nice photo op. Next time I will use some restraint. Nothing went wrong this time not for lack of trying as I think about it nor did I see any other sharks, not to say they weren't there. That area is pretty sharky much of the year. Here are some shots from the session:


Image
The House of Refuge


Image



Image
I think this was shot just after passing over the shark. I'm about to enter Bathtub Reef lagoon through a break in the reef.


I was solo scooter free diving two weeks back and came up on this 5 to 6 ft. Caribbean Reef shark in 50 ft. of water. Like I said, sharks aren't that uncommon, massive migrations are more rare though in these parts.

Image
Riding up on the reef shark, a beautiful creature. More shots at: http://fksa.org/showthread.php?t=11697


Love sharks, watching and diving with them but I won't knowingly kite with hundreds of them in a mass migration again. Too much that can go wrong kiting in that setting beyond anyone's control but that is just my personal view.
Last edited by RickI on Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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