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19 July 2011

Mossel Bay: Shark stuns research crew

Mossel Bay - An ocean research team was surprised when a great white shark breached onto their vessel on Monday.

The crew aboard a boat for the Oceans Research team was conducting research into shark activity off the coast of Mossel Bay when a 3m great white shark breached onto their vessel.

They had been chumming and gathering data on four sharks in the area when activity around the boat ceased.

"Next thing I know I heard a splash, and see a white shark breach out of the water from side of the boat hovering, literally, over the crewmember who was chumming on the boats portside," said field specialist Dorien Schroder.

The shark, estimated to be 500kg, landed on top of the fuel and bait storage containers and Schroder rushed to pull a crewmate to the stern of the boat.

Crane

Despite the shark only landing with half its body on the boat, it became stuck and equipment was destroyed as the animal thrashed.

The crew poured water over the shark's gills while specialists Enrico Gennari, Ryan Johnson, Riley Elliott and Rob Lewis arrived 15 minutes later.

Johnson and Gennari secured a rope around the tail of the shark in an attempt to pull it off the boat into the water, but this was unsuccessful.

The decision was made to return to the harbour and use a crane to lift the shark off the now stricken vessel.

Water was pumped into the shark's mouth while crew hoisted the animal and lowered it into the water.

The shark, however, was disorientated and beached itself inside the harbour.

Scientists then tied ropes to the shark and towed it out to sea. About 1km from the harbour, the animal regained its orientation and the ropes were cut.

"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," Schroder said.

- News24