VLADIVOSTOK, August 18 (Itar-Tass) —— A large pack of white sharks is presumed to have approached the beaches of Primorye. The predators are blamed for two attacks on holiday-makers in the Khasan district. All emergency services are on the alert, swimming in the sea is forbidden, but persuading people to stay out of the water in hot weather is easier said than done. The local authorities in whose areas many of the islands have no anti-shark protection at the beaches are hoping the attacker, four meters tall, according to eyewitnesses, will be killed. On Thursday they announced a reward of 100,000 rubles for the shark.
But catching the shark is a tricky business. The Emergency Situations Ministry has joined the work to plan the operation. Everything depends, as always, on money: killing one man-eater shark will require 5 million rubles – for renting a special vessel, other equipment and so on.
The shores of Primorye are approached by many awesome sea predators, very dangerous to humans, including the blue-gray shark, the white shark, and the hammerhead shark. And all in all the Sea of ··Japan is a home for twelve species of large predators that may also be seen off the coast of Primorye: in summer they rise not only to Peter the Great Bay, but farther north – to the Tatar Strait. Smaller specimens pose certain risks, too. In 2010 at the beaches the Khasan district there was registered an invasion of one-meter-long sharks, which caused strong panic. Fortunately, no one was bitten.
In the area of the latest attacks ichthyologists are at work: previously there were no confirmed cases of shark attacks on humans in the Primorye Territory. The first comments are available.
A researcher at the Laboratory of Fish Resources of the Sea of ··Japan at the Pacific Research Institute of Fisheries, Pavel Kalchugin says: “Sharks have come to our shores with the warm Tsushima Current, running from south to north in the eastern Sea of Japan, which tends to raise temperatures in the eastern area. They are very aggressive and a threat to humans. Predators are attracted by schools of fish that come to these areas from the sub-tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean and by the seal of the Far Eastern Marine Reserve.”
Senior researcher at the Laboratory of Ichthyology of the Zoological Institute, Natalia Chernova: “The appearance of an aggressor-shark in the Far East is most likely a coincidence. This is an anomaly, not something natural. Of late there were observed fish of southern origin in the Primorye Territory. But they are of no risk to humans”.
Sc. D. (Biology), professor of marine biology and aquaculture at the Far Eastern Federal University, Vladimir Rakov: “The descriptions obtained indicate that it was a white shark. In Primorye it was registered, and not in one instance, in the Khasan district, near the Popov, Reynard islands last year and earlier, but no attacks on humans occurred.”
Senior researcher at the Laboratory of Ichthyology of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Cand. Sc. (biology), Alexander Sokolov: “Attacks by sharks on humans in Primorye may happen again. Predators will remain in the waters of the Gulf of Peter the Great at least until mid-September. Sharks each year appear off Primorye in the middle or at the end of summer. Usually three or four species come from the south into our area. Especially popular with the sharks is the Gamov Cape, with its clear water and greater water transparency. There is a warm current and the Pos’eta Bay, which is rich in food. The Amur Bay is pretty near. We had expected that sooner or later they will start to attack people, because their population has increased.”
The latest date when the sharks may migrate south is the beginning of October, experts say. Scientists attribute the situation to climate change: global warming has moved the sharks’ natural habitat farther north, sharks have become more numerous and larger in size. But still there is no definite answer to the question whether the greater migration of sharks is due to changes in natural cycles of sea water temperature fluctuations.
Oceanographer Alexander Solovyov: “The attacker in Primorye was a white shark, measuring four meters and weighing a tonne. It may have been brought with a warm current.”
Russia’s chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko: “Until there is clarity closing the beaches will be the most adequate solution.”
For the first time man-eating sharks appeared off the coast of Primorye in 2005 at the height of summer. In 2007, a two-meter white shark got into the net of amateur fishermen in the Idol Bay of the Khasan district. In July 2010 there was an unprecedented invasion of predatory sharks with venomous spines.