Shark panic in Primorye breeds weird rumors

VLADIVOSTOK, August 23 (Itar-Tass) —— The shark theme in recent days has been one of the most popular ones in the Primorye Territory, and in its wake there emerge the most unusual speculations and rumors. While swimmers and fishermen have been looking for ominous fins on the sea surface, some manage to see a “shark connection” in any out of the ordinary occurrence. Marine predators, whose presence off the territory’s shores has remained unnoticed for many years, are now accused of all sorts of marine accidents.

For example, many media on Tuesday published a story narrated to them by two young men, who found on the coast the body of a dead bear, which, apparently had been floating in the water for several days. How the bear got into the sea is unclear, but some were quick to blame the incident on marine predators. Headlines like Shark Bites Bear to Death and Shark Bites Bear’s Paws Off have left few people indifferent, adding fuel to the fire of shark scare issues.

Local businessmen have decided to use the opportunity to boost sales by arranging special events, the press secretary of the Primorye Territory police department, Yevgenia Sokovishina, told Itar-Tass. On one of the websites there appeared an ad of a local shop selling goods for fishing and hunting: “Catch a shark! We offer gear for extreme fishing”. For combating marine predators the residents and guests of Primorye are being offered hooks, leads, cords, and strong poles. Some resourceful businessmen even offer prompts where the probability of meeting with the predator is the highest.

Such actions have forced the police of Primorye to warn all fans of extreme fishing and hunting. “Fishing sharks is a huge threat to life and health. Think twice before risking your own lives,” the police statement says.

Meanwhile, many professional fishermen have gone hunting for the man-eating shark. On instructions from a special shark crisis center four fishing boats have begun to ply coastal waters. First, the shark hunters will head south – to places where the predators made the first attacks. Together with the fishermen a team of scientists is monitoring the migration routes of sharks.

It is unknown how much time the shark hunt will take. Experts now blame the attacks on several predators, and even on different varieties of sharks. According to an ichthyologist at the Far Eastern Branch of the RAS, Alexander Sokolov, the attack in the Khasan district was most likely by a white shark, while a teenager at the Zheltukhin island was bitten by a blue-gray shark mako. Testimonies by eyewitnesses and examination of the main piece of evidence – a broken tooth taken out from the wound of one of the victims – testify to this.

While the shark has not been caught, a ban on swimming, imposed August 18, continues to operate on the coast of the Primorye Territory. Rescue workers and police continue to patrol the beaches and explain the holidaymakers that the only way to avoid predators is to give up swimming, snorkeling, and visiting aqua parks.

The first shark attack on a swimmer in Primorye was recorded on August 17 in the Telyakovsky bay, the south of the Khasan district. A 25-year-old man received multiple serious injuries of the hips and torso and lost both hands. On August 18 there was another attack by a predator, but much farther north, near the Zheltukhin island. A 16-year-old suffered severe leg injuries.



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