Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shark Sighting, Swimming and Safety in Melbourne

Yvonne Mooyman, a Black Rock Iceberger, was plucked out of the ocean by a helicopter yesterday after a bronze whaler came within 15 meters of her as she was swimming off of Parkdale Beach in Melbourne, Australia.

Bronze whalers, also known as copper sharks, can get up to 3.5 meters (11 feet) and are known to feed close to shore, sometimes within the shore break. This is the second time this has happened to Yvonne, but according to fellow Black Rock Iceberger Alby Bardoel, the hardy English Channel and Cook Strait swimmer got right back in the water the next day.

The helicopter pilot tried to scare the shark away by bringing the helicopter in close, but it refused to move. "The thing just didn’t budge," said Captain Chris Sherwood. "It’s the biggest shark I’ve seen that close to the water for a long time. Those in the water and on the beach were unaware of the shark swimming beneath the surface. It did not breach the water, which is why the people on shore did not see it. People should be aware of what’s going on if they see a helicopter hovering 10 feet over the water. They should probably get out of the water."

As reported by Moving to Melbourne, shark expert Nick Kirby said, "The bronze whalers not too worried about people, or too interested in them either. They’re definitely not a man-eater."

Good information to know, but that is probably not the first thought that came to Yvonne's mind while sharing the ocean with a bronze whaler.

Photo of the bronze whaler is from the Shark Pictures website. Photo of Yvonne Mooyman from her 2005 English Channel swim is from the Black-ice Open Water Swimming Club website.

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