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Shark Sighting Near Ribeira Brava Beach

A video of an alleged shark near the beach off Ribeira Brava this morning not only caused a media frenzy but rather a lot of apprehension as well.  Later on, the Maritime Police confirmed that they were aware of the animal,  but had not received any exact information with regard to the sighting.

After analysing the video, many believe the creature was a blue shark and that the fish farming tanks had probably attracted it to the area. Blue sharks have an incredible sense of smell.

The Captain-of-Sea-and-War, Rui Teixeira, Commander of the Maritime Zone of Madeira (ZMM), revealed to JM that the Maritime Police was aware of the video but did not receive any information from any bathers or residents of its existence, and confirmed that it would ensure the safety of those using the area.

In response to the reports, the City Council also confirmed that they were unaware of the sharks present and that they were in contact with with the maritime police and the Regional Directorate for the Environment and Climate Change to analyse what has happened and see what prevention measures will be taken to safeguard bathers who frequent this space.

Blue sharks generally inhabit deep waters but occasionally stray into shallower depths in temperate climates.  They eat small fish and squid although they can go for larger prey. They can also hunt as a pack, herding smaller prey into a containment area, and have been known to pinch cod from trawler nets.  Generally lethargic, they are on the Near Threatened species list.

They rarely bite humans, and there have only been 13 incidents from 1580 to 2013.  Only four of these were fatal.

The bigger question here is that we are invading its territory, not the other way around. And aquaculture will attract predators.

Samantha Gannon

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Photo: JM

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