11 July 2005

Florida men kill bull shark - too close for comfort

As sharks continue to search for food, and vacationers continue to take to the waters in search of fun, more encounters may be in store, researchers say.

The latest shark-human skirmish ended with one shark dead and another barely escaping after Ric Stoutamire decided two bull sharks had come too close for comfort. Stoutamire said he was startled when he spotted the sharks swimming Saturday in a canal about 25 feet from his vacation home in Shell Point.

Ric Stoutamire, left, Sam Pickenpaugh, right, and Bob Seidel pull the large bull shark onto the dock behind Stoutamire's house in Shell Point in Wakulla County. Jim McGill, Special to the Tallahassee Democrat"I was talking to somebody in my house, and I looked out of the window into the water and a big shark swam right between the dock and the seawall," Stoutamire said.

Together with his son, his brother-in-law and two other friends, Stoutamire got into a small boat and went after the shark. They used grouper rods to catch the shark and after a 20-minute ordeal in which the hooked shark pulled their boat up and down the canal, they grabbed a pistol and shot at the water until they hit the shark. With a maneuver Stoutamire called "tailin' it," they tied a rope around the tail of the 6-foot shark and dragged it onto the dock.

After Stoutamire cut out the shark's jaws and disposed of the carcass, he spotted another large bull shark in the same area and went back out into the canal to try to catch it. This shark, which Stoutamire estimated was about 8 feet long, straightened the hook and got away.

Stoutamire, who has owned a house in Shell Point since 1991, said this was the first time he had seen a shark so close to his house.

Neil Hammerschlag, a researcher for the Pew Institute for Ocean Science at the University of Miami, isn't surprised that sharks are popping up in places that people are not used to seeing them.

"Perhaps they're expanding their range due to adaptation," he said. "Sharks are extremely adaptable. They have to move around constantly due to habitat degradation, pollution and overfishing of their food sources."

Hammerschlag said sharks in pursuit of fish can end up near river mouths, close to the shore or in canals. Bull sharks are one of the few shark species that can survive in fresh and brackish waters. There have been sightings in inland rivers and even in the Great Lakes, a phenomenon Hammerschlag attributes to lack of food in the sharks' original habitat.

"If they can't find food in one area, they'll move on into another area," he said.

A number of researchers have pointed out that although shark sightings are up, the overall shark population is declining and shark attacks are extremely rare. However, the two recent attacks on Panhandle beaches combined with the fact that the majority of shark attacks take place in Florida have raised fears locally.

Stoutamire said he went after the sharks because he was uncomfortable having them so close to a neighborhood with many children, including his own son.

"It kind of woke everybody up," Stoutamire said. "It could've been bad because people swim in that canal all the time."

Pausing, he added, "Well, they used to."

Source: www.tallahassee.com


At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so what are you going to kill every shark that comes " too close " give me a break. killing one may just lead to more coming or extinction maybe?

At 4:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

let the bastards get extinct. I wish he would have got the last one he went after too.


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