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Rottnest Island (Or Galveston) Great White Shark Hoax


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Outline

Message claims that attached photographs show a Great White Shark caught near Rottnest Island in Western Australia by the fishing vessel, 'Pirate'. Another version, which features one of the same shark photographs, claims that the shark was caught off the coast of Galveston, in the United States.

Cartoon Shark
©Depositphotos.com/liusaart



Brief Analysis

The claims in the messages are untrue. The shark was not caught near either Rottnest Island or Galveston. Nor is it a Great White. In fact, the shark is a Mako and it was caught off Nova Scotia, Canada back in 2004.

   

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Examples

Shark Caught of Galveston Hoax Message

Subject: FW: Fancy a swim

Wow! So much for swimming at Rottnest on the north side of

Gage Road ... just southwest of Cottesloe.

Mako Shark 1

Rottnest Island – Western Australia While the ocean vessel 'Pirate' was commercial fishing for dhufish, this Great White Shark was hooked in the mouth. It only resisted slightly for 5 minutes before it came up alongside the boat to have a look; just long enough for one of the crew members to slip a rope around it's tail! And that's when the fun began.

The shark took off towing the 35-foot fishing boat backwards through the water at an estimated 7 knots. Just like in JAWS, the boat was taking on water over the stern and the crew watched in horror as the shark would actually jump completely out of the water at times. This went on for an hour before the shark finally drowned.

She weighed in at 1035 pounds. It is suspected she followed a weak El Nino current into local Perth waters in search of food. Although mid 20 degree water is considered ideal for these sharks, the larger ones can tolerate water in the low 10s.

Mako Shark 2
NOTE: The tail fin compared to the size of the man.



Detailed Analysis

According to this email forward, attached photographs show a large Great White Shark caught near Rottnest Island in Western Australia. The message claims that, after being roped by crewmen aboard the fishing vessel, 'Pirate', the shark was able to tow the 35 foot boat backwards in the water in an event reminiscent of scenes from the movie, 'Jaws'.

A later, social media driven, version that includes one of the same shark photographs claims that the shark was 'caught this morning on the coast of Galveston 1 mile from the swimming area'. Galveston is a city located in the American state of Texas.

However, the information in the messages is untrue on several levels. Firstly, the shark in the photographs is not a Great White, but instead a Shortfin Mako. Secondly, the fish was caught off Nova Scotia, Canada, not near Rottnest Island, Western Australia or off shore from Galveston, Texas. Thirdly, the fish was actually caught on hook and line by fisherman Jamie Doucette of Wedgeport during the 2004 'Yarmouth Shark Scramble', an annual shark-fishing event. It was not caught by fishermen aboard a boat named "Pirate", nor did it drag any vessel backwards in the water.

Photographs of the large Mako can be viewed on the Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department website, along with the following caption:
This shortfin mako was captured by hook and line during the Yarmouth Shark Scramble off Nova Scotia, Canada by a sports fisherman. According to Dr. Steven Campana, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, the mako was a 24 year old mature female weighing 1,082 pounds (492 kg) and measuring 10' 10" (330 cm) in length.
Moreover, the versions of the hoax discussed here are just variants of an older hoax email that has been set in various locations in the US and Canada and features different names for the supposed fishing boat in the story. For example, the version reproduced below moves the location of the catch to Ocean Shores Washington and features a fishing boat named 'Dawn Raider':
Ocean Shores Wa. USA - While the ocean vessel 'Dawn Raider' was commercial fishing for dogfish, this Great White was hooked in the mouth but only resisted slightly for 15 minutes before it came up alongside the boat to have a look; long enough for one of the crew members to slip a rope around it's tail !!! 'And that's when the s**t hit the fan!!.

The Shark took off towing the 42 foot fishing boat backwards through the water at about 7 Knots. Just like in JAWS, the boat was taking on water over the stern and the crew watched in horror as the shark would actually jump completely out of the water at times. This went on for an hour before the shark finally drowned.

She weighed in at 1035 LBS. It is suspected she followed a weak El Nino current into local waters in search of food. Although mid 60 deg. water is considered ideal for these sharks, the larger ones can tolerate water in the low 50s .
It is not uncommon for photographs of sharks and other large fish to circulate via email with fictional stories and false locations attached.

Last updated: June 19, 2015
First published: July 30, 2008
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
Urban Legend based on 2004 Shark Scramble Catch
Large Shortfin Mako Taken Just Off Yarmouth Harbour, Southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada






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