Tag Archive: Sharks


3/30

Having given up on finding a crab in Osiris’ courtyard, at least for the moment, we turn our attention to the Chamber of the Gods, which is still teeming with cryptic critters. Oceana is with me — I’ve resigned myself to taking her along as my good luck charm — and it’s midnight, when I tend to find animals I missed during the daytime. As always, finding our way into the Echoing Terrace is an exhausting exercise, especially in the dark and after six months spent on dry land. But after arriving at the east hall, finding the first few fish is relatively easy and sedate.

First we find the prehistoric-looking frilled shark lounging in the corner pocket of the chamber, around D1.

Frilled shark

Rounding the corner and down the stairs into the Altar of Osiris, along the left wall I find the black pyramid butterflyfish and the too-tiny-to-photograph whitespotted boxfish.

Black pyramid butterflyfish

 Continuing west along the north hall, we run smack into a cave-in. Fortunately, amongst the rubble we find a trio of hot-pink painted frogfish, who look like their whispering about me.

Painted frogfish, conspiring

Next we execute that slick maneuver of descending through a trapdoor behind a statue of Horus, bypassing the Subterranean Reception Room with its many hungry spider crabs, and up through the ceiling into the Pillars of Shadow. Turning north here, we’re met with the impressive sight of the thickest concentration of Coelacanths ever witnessed. If, like me, you grew up fascinated by the discovery of this impossibly rare and ancient fish in the waters of the Black Sea, and assumed there were maybe one or two of them in existence, it’s mind-boggling to see so many packed in one place. All the more amazing that only one of these is the legendary coelacanth our Marine Encyclopedia says we need to find — we have to paw through the crowd, asking “Are you the one? What about you?”

But we’re just starting to mingle when some uninvited guests show up to spoil the party. I’m talking, of course, about that most unhandsome of elasmobranchs, the goblin shark. More specifically, a whole passel of ’em, marauding and striking every time we try to introduce ourselves to a docile coelacanth.

G-g-goblin shark!!

I whipped out my pulsar and started zapping like crazy, and just by accident happened to tag another legendary, the ferocious Okeanos’ Guardian. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep my hands steady enough to get a clear photo of it.

Okeanos' Guardian, passing under my fins

 Eventually, I got the goblins subdued enough where I could quickly tag a few coelocanths, and eventually found the Living Fossil I was after. Yet I barely had a chance to line up a good photo op before the sharks attacked again en masse. In the middle of this, my “out of air” claxon went off. With no time left to swim out, we had to drop everything and beam back to the ship.

The Living Fossil

 For the first time since the height of the game, I was a relieved to find myself back on dry land. I suppose I should go back there to study the goblin sharks as part of my “Know Thine Enemy” series, but I wouldn’t say I’m in a rush.

5/19

I had to take a client up to Northern Canada to see ribbon seals, so while I was there I decided to continue my study of Greenland sharks, which I’m publishing here under the title,

Some Observations on Greenland Sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) in the Waters of Northern Canada

In this field study, I observed three Greenland sharks roaming the north Canada coast. For recording purposes, I’ve named them Geerg, Grieg and Grimm. 

Geerg

Grieg

Grimm

Greenland sharks are the second most agressive species of shark in Endless Ocean, after great white sharks. However, unlike the white sharks of Ciceros Strait, Greenland sharks are highly territorial and keep a respectable distance from each other, never hunting in packs. Geerg can usually be found circling the area south of ice hole D1-2, where it feeds on injured sea otters and half-eaten capelin left behind by hunting narwhals.  Grieg patrols WNW of the same ice hole, and Grimm haunts the far northwest region all around ice hole A1.

Adapted from Phisheep, 2010.

Greenland sharks are wary predators, preferring to circle their prey at a safe distance for some moments before abruptly charging in to attack. For this reason, it is easy when straying into their territory to disregard the “Warning” sign and assume that they are not an aggressive species. This common and dangerous mistake can lead to many unpleasant suprises, as this observer can attest. For, once the Greenland shark senses blood in the water, it will rejoin its attack relentlessly. Then the circling behavior of the Greenlander becomes especially dangerous, as it is often hard to find in the turbid waters until it suddenly strikes from nowhere. An encounter with a single Greenland shark can sometimes be as terrifying as a pack of great whites.

Greenland sharks can be evaded with strong swimming, but they have been known to follow divers well out of their assumed range. Many is the time this observer has thought he had escaped a Greenlander, only, whilst fumbling for camera equipment, to be reminded of its presence with a smart thwack on the back of the head.

In the case of the Greenland shark, often the best defense is a strong offense. Approaching the shark with a pulsar gun ready, aggressively zapping it while it is still circling, will usually stun it enough to allow the diver to pass unmolested. A successful pulsing (usually 4 zaps in quick succession) is generally effective for about 3 minutes, after which the shark will shake it off and return for more. However, if you leave the range of the shark, the effects of the pulsing wear off immediately. It is best to do one’s business efficiently and quit the area for good.

In the real world, Greenland sharks are benthic swimmers, preferring to hug the seafloor as deep as 6,000 feet below the surface. Encounters with humans are extremely rare, except when the sharks inhabit shallow waters like parts of the St. Lawrence Estuary. The flesh of the Greenland shark has unusually high concentrations of urea, making it poisonous, not to mention unpalatable. Nevertheless, with laborious preparation, Greenland shark meat is served as an hors d’oeuvre called kæstur hákarl in the finest restaurants in Iceland, where people will eat literally anything.

For more information about the Greenland shark, visit the fabulously awesome Web site of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG) at http://www.geerg.ca/.

5/6

North Canada Coast—We fled to Canada to find Finley’s beluga* and stayed awhile.

We found our pod of belugas under Ice Hole B4. We were looking for one with a spot pattern in the shape of a flower—easier said than done, as there are a lot of belugas, they move around very quickly, and the markings we’re looking for don’t exactly leap out at you. It’s a bit like the quest for the red-tusked narwhal—it takes sharp eyes and a quick clicker-finger to catch the right one. Eventually, I latched on to him and, using the whistle, engaged in a duet. Considering his gift for song and, well, the fact that he’s a beluga, I can’t think of a better name for him than Raffi, after the kid’s folk singer whose hit  “Baby Beluga” was in very heavy rotation in our house when my son was a toddler.

Bay-bee be-loo-ga! Bay-bee be-loo-ga!

After bringing Raffi into the fold, Hayako and I continued to investigate the other ice holes. Looking at the Marine Encyclopedia the other day, I noted that a large number of the undiscovered species in the book were located in the Arctic, so I thought this would be a good time to get familiar with a region I don’t visit very often. We dive at sunset.

At Hole D1,2 we found our narwhals again, but the Greenland shark who usually harrasses us here was hanging back. Once we got north of the hole, he was up to his old tricks, charging us, running away and circling a few minutes before making another charge. There are more Greenlanders in the open range between holes along the northern border of the map, in C1, A1 and A2. Unlike the great whites, they’re solitary nomads. I guess I need to draw up another Know Thine Enemy for Greenland sharks.

Greenland sharks are solitary nomads

Topside at Hole D1,2 we find a suprise—sea otters diligently dining on their tummy-tables.

On the rim of Hole A1 we find  Atlantic spiny lumpsuckers, which I wasn’t able to find on one of my recent photo requests. Why anyone would want a photo of one of these things is beyond me—they look just like—well, look at them:

Atlantic spiny lumpsuckers

At Hole AB2 we found the legendary Ice Cupid—a kind of large sea angel, which loads an unsettling cut-scene where Jean-Eric tells me the Ice Cupid is a love charm and did I know that Oceana reallly looks up to me (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)? Uh, Jean-Eric—did YOU know that your granddaughter’s right there in the boat next to you and can hear every word you’re saying as you blatantly try to set us up? Maybe your imagination should get a room.

I had originally wanted to stay and do an around-the-clock survey of the life of the North Canada Coast, but we were out of film and hey—when was the last time I made any money? Before leaving we check out the topside around Hole CD3. The sky is clear, there are bearded seals lying around like drunks at the end of a party. The sun has disappeared behind the horizon, sending out a strange vertical ray that points like a beacon towards the darkening sky. I’ve heard of the green flash at sunset, but not this. I’d take a picture of it, but I haven’t any film left.

*By the way: Why do they call it “beluga” caviar, anyway? Belugas are mammals and don’t lay eggs. Caviar comes from sturgeon—and they look nothing like belugas. What’s up with that?

7/26

Ciceros Strait—After taking another beating from the sharks around the Emerald Lady while trying to retrieve a treasure request, I decided to do a field study, which I’m publishing here under the title,

Spatiotemporal Patterns of White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) Predation in the Ciceros Strait Region, Aegean Sea

Research Goal: To test my hypothesis that there’s a single pack of white sharks that moves from place to place, and that if I can predict where the sharks will (or more to the point, will not) be at a certain time and place, I can salvage to my heart’s content without being molested by the finny fiends.

Method: I first checked the distribution of great whites in the Ciceros region with my Marine Encyclopedia and determined that they can be found at three principle locations: C1 (Wreck of the Flamingo), E1 & 2 (Pride of Athens, North Canyon), and H7 (The Emerald Lady). I then visited all three sites at different times of day (sunrise, noon, sunset, midnight) in the company of Hayako Sakurai, Ph.D., who kept the shark location data, and recorded the occurence and behavior of white sharks in these vicinities.

Findings:

Flamingo (C1)—Great whites are here at sunrise and noon, but after sunset migrate east to the North Canyon region. At sunset and midnight, the breakfast club yields this territory to nocturnal sand tiger sharks, unhandsome but harmless.

Great whites off the Flamingo, noon

Sand tiger, Flamingo, midnight

 Pride of Athens (E1)—At sunrise and noon, no sharks at all appear, but at sunset, the great whites, pursuing shoals of bluefin tuna from the west, arrive on this site, where they soon forget the bluefins and feast on human flesh with voracious abandon. At midnight, the whites expand their feeding ground to the North Canyon (E2)—there, amid winding benthic walls, the unwary traveller is prey to their pitiless ferocity. 

Emerald Lady (H7)—No time of day, not even midnight on Christmas Eve, is safe from their relentless marauding. Unless they can be in two places at once, the sharks here appear to be distinct from their brethren to the north. At sunset and noon, the common carchardons are accompanied by the legendary Thanatos. He participates in the slaughter in the blood-red hours of sunset, while at noon, you can often see him skulking around the periphery, supervising things from afar. Between midnight and daybreak I never saw him. Indeed, at daybreak, the white shark population around the Emerald Lady seems to be at its lowest ebb. At least until you show up.

Hell yes, I crapped my wetsuit!

Conclusions:

  • There are two distinct packs of white sharks—the northern pack, which migrates west and east during the day; and the southeastern pack, which circles the Emerald Lady.
  • Best time to visit the Flamingo is after sunset.
  • Best time to visit the Pride of Athens is during daylight hours.
  • No time is safe for visitors to the Emerald Lady. However, if you arrive early in the morning and aggressively pulsar the first sharks to appear, you may gain up to 60 seconds worth of salvage time before the rest bear down. I was able to bring up about 4 items with minimal mauling this way.
  • At all costs, do not visit this region at sunset, when Thanatos is on the loose.

Some other observations about sharks:

  • Dolphins, despite all those Flipper episodes to the contrary, will not save you from sharks. They are cowards who will desert you at the first sign of trouble. (Hey, it had to be said.)
  • The “Danger” species are: Great white, tiger, greenland, bluntnose six-gill, and goblin. All others are harmless.
  • Zapping sharks with the pulsar gun works for a good long time in all species except the great whites and greenlanders.
  • If the sharks attack while you’re searching for treasure, the “Danger” sign will interfere with your multisensor. You won’t be able to retrieve a treasure even when it’s right in front of your face. Zap, get away and reapproach the site.
  • Staying in motion will help you avoid sharks most of the time, but not always.
  • Dodging rarely works.
  • Just be thankful they don’t eat you.