It was with small amusement I read in the news yesterday that a diver was feeding the sharks at Melbourne Aquarium and was bitten on the face. We have been to the aquarium before and watched the feeding. A large stingray did it’s best to suck the head off one of the divers and amused my boys no end. I can only imagine what happened in the viewing gallery when the shark latched on yesterday. Gasps of horror? I suspect that if there was a school group in attendance the gasps would have been accompanied by small boys saying ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’.
This incident is a lot less impressive that it sounds, the shark was a Tawny Nurse shark, a type of shark that usually feasts on octopus it sucks out of their hidey holes, and was only 40cm long. Still, I wouldn’t want it chewing on my nose and I expect that the injured diver was far from amused.
After reading about that shark, of course I had to go and look for an old article about face-eating sharks and was totally unsurprised to find another. Poor Constable Gallagher was out for an innocent spot of spear fishing and a man-eater latched, on nearly removing his nose.
Hmmmm… The shark that attacked him was a Wobbegong shark (I have always loved that name ….Wobbegong…) a type of carpet shark not known for its man-eating tendencies. Wobbegongs are usually found on the sea floor just hanging around waiting for their whiskery faces to attract small fish to their deaths. They generally only bite people who step on them.
Could it be that the spear fishing policeman got a little too close to one and scared the crap out of it? Some might say it is a case of just desserts…
Last year a Sydney man was teaching his son to surf and was reportedly bitten on the leg by a two metre Great White Shark. A local shark expert witnessed the attack and renewed his calls for greater protection against sharks. (Nothing to do with the shark patrol/warning operation he runs of course.)
A tooth removed from the wound proved the shark to be a 1.6 metre Wobbegong and threw a cloud of doubt over the expert. I’m sure you have seen documentary footage of a Great White, they are big, scary and white(-ish). Well, a Wobbegong is called a carpet shark because it looks like, umm..a shark-shaped carpet. Not much of an expert if you can’t tell the difference. Perhaps he would have been better off saying ‘I don’t know what type it was, I didn’t get a good enough look’. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?
If you have read my other posts on sharks you will know that I believe that if you are in the water with them you have to expect to be eaten. Don’t complain. Again the sharks are reinforcing the lesson, stay out of their big wet dinner plate if you don’t want to get tasted! 😉
Have a look at this diver following a beautiful Wobbegong on youtube