Man Attacks Porbeagle Shark

The porbeagle (Lamna nasus) is, like the great white shark, a member of the mackerel family. It is believed to have injured people in a few other cases, but its small size (under 300 pounds) means it can't really be considered a predator or people. 

BBC News - Fisherman escapes shark attack off Islay

"The 7ft porbeagle took hold of Hamish Currie's steel toe-capped boot after the skipper hauled it on to the deck of his vessel.

Mr Currie, 53, from Saltcoats, Ayrshire, targeted the shark after hearing reports of it attacking seals.

He was left shaken after the shark clamped its jaws around his foot and bit a hole in his boat."

Mr. Currie's claim that his victim was "a bad, bad shark" is my giggle for the day. Surely one is allowed to bite in self-defense?


  1. WTF, I thought fishermen hated seals? Im not buying his sad attempt at justifying himself. I hate it how any excuse is good to go after these creatures, and how any bite is a vicious attack, and the fishermen paint themselves as brave heroes who were this close to dying horribly.

    I'm ashamed of being human sometimes.

  2. It's pretty egregious, especially considering that the porbeagle is listed as "cirtically endangered" in that area (if I'm reading my locations correctly).

  3. As a Scotsman (OK, by descent, but I do trace my line back to the Stuarts) maybe I can shed a touch of (possible) light on the matter--yes, in Scotland, seals are often regarded as vermin and I believe can be lawfully killed if caught raiding nets; but the sentiment is by no means universal, especially in the West Highland and Hebridean regions of Scotland.

    Many people in these westernmost regions of Scotland are very superstitious, even to this day, when it comes to various creatures--gulls and seals head the list, as being the reincarnated souls of the dead, come back to look in on friends and neighbors. However, most Scots are aware that non-Scotsmen see them in terms of broad stereotypes and understandably would be reticent to go on record as holding such a belief--and might not even wish to admit to themselves they hold such superstitions--so the "mean fish defense" is probably the one he figured to go with; better to seem like a shark-hating jerk than a certifiable nut. That old folk belief, or a residual fragment of it, is the best reason I can think of why a hardheaded Scots fisherman would kill a shark to protect a seal.

  4. I would add, however, that the captain and his friends were perhaps a little overdramatic in their interpretation of the shark-seal interactions; porbeagles, as I understand it, are chiefly fish-eaters and if conflict occurs between them and seals, it is most apt to be because they're after the same prey in the same stretch of water.

    A 7-foot shark could conceivably kill a seal, especially a small harbor seal, if it landed a deep bite in just the right area, but the odds that the seal would be sitting still while this was happening are slim; in addition, a fully-grown bull gray seal (of the two species of British seal, the more common--harbor seals are nowhere near as prevalent as the colony-dwelling grays) may reach nine feet snout to flipper and a weight of 600 lb.; armed with teeth as formidable as those of all but the biggest land predators, such a seal would likely be well able to turn the tables on a 7-foot shark of probably less than 200 lb. and send the poor fish packing for the depths!

  5. Thats interesting, although I still don´t think it justifies the killing of the creature. But the confusing thing is, some sources state that the shark was not killed and that the people were actually trying to tag it
    This source also mentions the fact that porbeagles are mostly fish eaters.

    So who's to be believed?

  6. More shark paranoia: In New England, they're closing beaches after a great white washed up dead.

  7. Human nature being what it is, whether we credit superstition or simple ignorance as a motive--I would suspect the initial agenda was the shark's demise, and perhaps a cover story was concocted once the captain and crew realized that this might not go over well. I don't know how tagging a shark would alleviate a problem his behavior was causing (imaginary or otherwise) and it would strike me that someone experienced in tagging and releasing animals of this caliber would be the last one to be shocked when the shark "smote him out of blindest instinct", to quote Starbuck.

    At the same time, the media is often unreliable and God alone knows what was initially said...

  8. Agreed. I too believe they went after the shark and any excuse was good to justify it afterwards. Same way as they start hunting sharks whenever they bite someone in Australia and many other places.

  9. I also tend to feel hunting sharks in the wake of an attack is--leaving aside environmental concerns--a pretty futile endeavor. With a land predator that has killed a human, you have a pretty good shot at getting the one that actually made the kill, and there's reason to expect it will make future attempts having learned just how easy we are to kill.

    Sharks are a different matter. Given the distances sharks cover and the scope of alien territory you're trying to hunt in, the odds of getting THAT PARTICULAR SHARK are very slim...and in addition, there's no evidence that sharks specifically target humans, unlike cats, hyenas or even wolves and bears that develop a habit of doing so (though I don't buy the opposite extreme, which says that all attacks are innocent misunderstandings--an animal with a shark's sensory perceptions probably can easily distinguish a human from a seal, but very few large predatory fish seem to be fussy eaters and if it's protein and can't escape, they'll at least sample it.)

  10. I agree with you about the "misunderstandings". I never bought the whole "will mistake you for a seal" thing. Just because something is not your natural food doesn´t mean you can´t take a bite out of it at least to see if it tastes good. We all do that.

  11. Some folks have a deep need to believe animal attacks are mistakes or aberrations.

  12. I doubt that the porbeagle could prey on full grown seals, even if it wanted to. The seals are almost as big as the porbeagle itself, and they have thick blubber protection. The porbeagle has a small mouth, and widely separated slender teeth. The upper teeth point inwards rather than down, which meant that they are ill suited for biting chunks out of large prey (unlike the great white shark). It's clear that the porbeagle is a small fish specialist which swallows its prey whole. This has been confirmed by studies of porbeagle stomach contents which always contain small fish, up to the size of cod and spurdog.
    So the reasoning behind this tagging is greatly flawed, and I doubt that the reports about porbeagles attacking seals are true at all. The only shark in the area which can do this are the blue shark and six gill shark, and perhaps the sleeper shark, if they are present in British waters.

    1. This reminds me, really, of a more recent incident, in which the dolphin took some food out of a girl’s hands and was accused of “attacking” her.


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