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article imageShark jumps into boat with researchers

By Lynn Curwin     Jul 21, 2011 in World
A group of marine researchers in South Africa wanted to be close to sharks, but not quite as close as they got when a three-metre long great white jumped into a boat with them on Monday.
Field Specialist Dorien Schroder and six crew members from Oceans Research had been tossing food to sharks in Mossel Bay and recording information for about an hour. Things then quieted down for about five minutes.
"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 crew member who was chumming [throwing food bait] on the port side," The Guardian quoted her as saying.
She pulled her colleague to safety and the shark, weighing about 500kg (half a ton), landed on the bait and fuel containers of the boat, called The Cheetah. At first only half of the animal's body was in the boat and it was hoped that it would throw itself back into the water. Instead of doing that it worked itself further into the boat, destroying equipment and breaking fuel lines.
Field specialists arrived and tried to tow the shark out of the boat, but were unsuccessful.
The boat with the shark on board was then towed into the harbour where a water hose was used to ventilate the gills, and a crane was used to lift the shark up and place it back into the water. It began thrashing as soon as it hit the water, and swam off.
The Dorsal Fin reported that about 30 minutes later the shark had beached itself. Attempts were made to point the shark in the right direction but it headed toward the beach again, so it was towed slowly out of the harbour. After it appeared to regain its orientation it was released and swam away.
“This is the first time such a thing has happened to us. The Cheetah is damaged, but will be repaired and will be back in the water in a few days," Oceans Research marketing director Cassie Heil told the Cape Times.
“When working with animals this large you have to take every precaution possible to ensure the safety of the scientists and the sharks. However, it is impossible to predict everything. What is important is how you respond to such a 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.”
Enrico Gennari, a director at Oceans Research, said that sometimes a shark will jump like a flying fish and land several metres away if it feels another shark underneath it.
Photos of the shark on the boat can be seen on The Dorsal Fin.
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