Friday, October 24, 2008

Tiger sharks... a natural predator of turtles

Monday morning the ‘radio bamboo’ (local gossip channel) brought us some interesting if sad news, especially after Saturdays turtle incident. On that same Saturday early in the morning, two local fishermen hunting shark off ‘Ti Marie Louise’ landed an enormous tiger shark.

The Tiger Shark, sometimes referred to as 'a garbage can with fins', photo Save Our Seas Foundation

Its great maw could have easily accommodated the head and shoulders of an average man and it would have had no trouble biting him in two. When they opened up the shark, there was a good sized hawksbill turtle inside it, the turtle was about 40 cms long, I guess it was pretty beat up as they didn’t save it. The shark however is now cleaned and salted and its great jaws have been retained as a trophy.

The jaws of a tiger shark are sought after as trophies or curios

These large aggressive sharks will eat almost anything; nothing is too big or too small. Their diet includes seals, jellyfish, turtles, seabirds, other sharks, sea snakes, crabs in fact anything that crosses their path including rubbish which has earned them the nickname of ‘Dustbin of the sea’. They are rated second to the great white shark for attacks on humans and their conservation status is listed as ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN Red List.

Not all shark attacks on turtles are fatal; some escape but will carry the scars for the rest of their lives like on the rear flipper of this hawksbill; photo Elke Talma

Our poor turtles, threatened on all sides from the time they were just an egg in its sandy nest to their time in the sea and all that swims in it. Yet I think the biggest threat has been from us mankind.

This post was contributed by Patricia Mathiot.. Thanks Pat!!

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