The Bull Shark


Following a spate of shark attacks in the Gulf of Mexico recently presumed to be by bull sharks , here is the scientific picture of the bull shark, considered the most dangerous shark in the world, responsible for the most attacks on humans – from the Ichthyology Dept, Florida Natural History Museum.

The Bull Shark

“According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) bull sharks are
historically responsible for at least 69 unprovoked attacks on humans around the
world, 17 of which resulted in fatality. In reality this species is likely
responsible for many more, and has been considered by many experts to be the
most dangerous shark in the world. It’s large size, occurrence in freshwater
bodies, and greater abundance in close proximity to numerous human populations
in the tropics makes it more of a potential threat than either the white shark
or tiger shark. Since the bull shark occurs in numerous Third World regions
including Central America, Mexico, India, east and west Africa, the Middle East,
Southeast Asia, and South Pacific Islands, attacks are often not reported. The
bull shark is also not as easily identifiable as the white or tiger shark, so is
likely responsible for a large percentage of attacks with unidentified
culprits.

The bull shark gets its name from its stout appearance and pugnacious reputation. The French know the shark as requin bouledogue, and the Spanish as tiburon sarda. It is known by many different common names throughout its range including Zambezi shark, Van Rooyen’s shark (Africa); Ganges shark (India); Nicaragua shark (Central America); freshwater whaler, estuary whaler, and Swan River whaler (Australia); shovelnose shark, square-nose shark, river shark, slipway grey shark, ground shark, and cub shark.”

More here…

INJURED – 1 July 2005 – Gasparilla Island Beach, Florida, US – swimmer attacked

In the third shark attack in Florida, US, in a week, a 19-year-old Austrian tourist was bitten on the ankle by a shark shortly before 11.30am local time while swimming about 100 metres from the shore off a Gulf of Mexico beach in Gasparilla Island State Park.

His father brought the boy ashore where a nurse, who was on the beach at the time, put a towel on the wound stanching the blood flow until paramedics arrived.

The victim, Armin Trojer, 19, of Baden, Austria, was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Fort Myers, where he was in good condition, hospital spokeswoman told the press. He had surgery to repair torn ligaments and tendons and was expected to make a full recovery.

According to the Herald Tribune: Trojer, who is 6 feet tall, told physicians at Lee Memorial Hospital that he was swimming alone in water that was too deep to stand in when the shark’s jaws closed on his ankle.

Authorities don’t know what kind of shark bit Trojer, although hammerhead sharks, spinner sharks and bull sharks frequent the area several hundred feet north of Boca Grande Pass, according to press reports. The two attacks which took place earlier this week in Florida (see earlier blogs) were by bull sharks.

“The bull shark gets its name from its stout appearance and pugnacious
reputation. The French know the shark as requin bouledogue, and the Spanish as
tiburon sarda. It is known by many different common names throughout its range
including Zambezi shark, Van Rooyen’s shark (Africa); Ganges shark (India);
Nicaragua shark (Central America); freshwater whaler, estuary whaler, and Swan
River whaler (Australia); shovelnose shark, square-nose shark, river shark,
slipway grey shark, ground shark, and cub shark.” – Icthyology Dept at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The pass, where Charlotte Harbor flows into the Gulf between Boca Grande and Cayo Costa, is world renown for game fishing. Locals don’t recommend swimming in the area.

The Herald Tribune report.

Shark Attack Tips

Shark Attack Tips from National Geographic.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE ATTACKED

• If attack is imminent, defend yourself with whatever weapons you can, advises the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. “Avoid using your [bare] hands or feet if you can avoid it; if not, concentrate your blows against the shark’s delicate eyes or gills.” A shark’s snout is also said to be sensitive.

• If a shark actually gets you in its mouth, says ISAF’s George Burgess, “I advise to be as aggressively defensive as you are able. ‘Playing dead’ does not work. Pound the shark in any way possible. Try to claw at the eyes and gill openings, two very sensitive areas.”

• If bitten, try to stop the bleeding. Leave the water as efficiently, calmly, and swiftly as possible. While many sharks will not bite again, you cannot rule out a second attack.

• Get immediate medical attention, no matter how small the injury.

HOW TO HELP A VICTIM

• Remove the victim from the water as soon as possible.

• Even before you leave the water, begin controlling bleeding by pressing on pressure points or by applying tourniquets.

• Protect the victim from cold by wrapping him or her in a blanket to minimize heat loss.

• Once out of the water try not to move the victim unnecessarily. Call for medical help.

Shark facts: attack stats, record swims, more…

National Geographic News – Shark facts: attack stats, record swims, more…:

Over 375 shark species have been identified, but only about a dozen are considered particularly dangerous. Three species are responsible for most human attacks: great white (Carcharodon carcharias), tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), and bull (Carcharhinus leucas) sharks.

INJURED – 27 June 2005 – Cape San Blas, Florida, US – fisherman attacked

A 16-year-old boy, Craig Hutto, was attacked by a shark while fishing from a sandbar about 50 metres offshore of a sandspit at Cape San Blas on the Florida panhandle in the United States.

The attack, which took place about 10.30am local time on Monday 27 June, is the second shark attack in three days on the Florida panhandle. A 14-year-old girl was killed by a shark on Saturday 25 June near Destin about 130 kilometres northwest of Cape San Blas.

The boy was fishing in waist-deep water with two friends when the shark bit him on the right thigh, nearly severing his leg.

The three fought the shark off the boy, hitting it on the nose several times. Hutto was pulled ashore by his friends and a doctor who happened to be nearby began treatment before he was taken to Bay Medical Center in Panama City by helicopter.

A hospital spokesperson told media his leg was amputated and he was listed in critical condition, but expected to recover.

Eric Ritter of the US-based Shark Attack Institute told media it was unlikely that the two attacks were by the same shark.

Experts with the US-based International Shark Attack File (ISAF) pointed out that this attacked was provoked as the boys were baiting the water to catch fish, while the attack on the girl two days earlier was unprovoked as she was merely swimming on her boogie board.

Florida is considered the world’s shark attack capital with an average of 32 attacks a year between 2000 and 2004, according to the ISAF.

USA Today report