HAWAII SHARK ENCOUNTER MAKES WAVES

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By Tammy Anderson

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 4) – Linda Tatreau's son came face to face with the much-feared great white shark in Hawaii.

While most mothers would have panicked about their son's weekend adventures, Tatreau said she was excited and sorry she missed the trip. Tatreau, a marine biology teacher in Guam, said her son, 39-year-old son Jimmy Hall, called her this weekend about his encounter with an almost 20-foot fish. His story has caught the attention of national media, newspapers like the Honolulu Advertiser and networks like CNN and MSNBC has featured his encounter. He also is being featured in the Today Show.

"This is like the thrill of a lifetime. I am still so excited and I wasn't even there. Truly, since his call it jumps into my mind every 30 minutes," Tatreau, a resident of Ipan, said. For Tatreau, her son's adventures were also a great addition to the unit on sharks she recently finished teaching to her five classes at George Washington High School.

She showed her entire class pictures of her boy who is one of the captains of a 32-foot vessel that takes people to see sharks about three miles off of Oahu's coast. While Hall said he has been on shark-seeing adventures many times, he had never seen a great white shark as big as the encounter this weekend.

"It was the greatest thing ever," he said of his adventure.

"We were out there and the people in the cage started screaming about an enormous shark. I saw the shape coming up and it was so big I thought it was a humpback whale. It was so big I didn't think it could be a shark," Hall said.

As he turned to get his camera equipment, Hall said the people in the cage got "very excited" because they thought he was fearfully running away.

But fear was the last thing on Hall's mind.

He grabbed his video camera and jumped in the cage with the four other people. After watching the shark circle the cage and rub up against the bottom of the boat, Hall said he made the decision to get in the water, inches from the giant fish.

"It appeared to be friendly and wasn't eating any of the bait we had. Sharks are what I do, so I really wanted to get outside of the cage and film," Hall said.

Hall's fear was overruled by the fact that the shark was obviously not hungry and the water was clear enough that the shark knew Hall was not the type of food she typically ate.

"She was not acting very aggressive, so I jumped out of the cage and I kind of got her in her path. We were about two feet away, nose to nose," he said.

Hall said when the shark passed, "it was like the side of a bus going by."

As the fish glided by, Hall stuck out his hand and felt the shark's smooth skin.

Against all odds, Hall and his passengers hung out with the shark for 45 minutes and got three to four minutes of amazing shark footage.

The odds of seeing a great white shark off the warm costal waters of Hawaii are rare, he said, adding that the great white has only been photographed once in the waters around those islands.

Brent Tibbatts, fisheries biologist with Guam's Department of Agriculture, said Guam's warmer waters may not have great white sharks, but there are many other types of shark that typically hang around the island.

Tibbatts said there used to be many more sharks, especially in the Northern Mariana Islands. But due to fishing of sharks for their fins to make the delicacy shark-fin soup, their population numbers have dropped drastically.

Tibbatts added that said some people, mainly fisherman, have been injured by sharks, but most people should not be afraid of the big fish.

"No one has ever been killed by a shark on Guam. If you see one, you should enjoy it because it is probably more afraid of you than you are of it," he said.

January 4, 2006

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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