Solitude along the Sea of Cortez shoreline was shattered recently when a 15-foot great white shark began to thrash violently in the shallows.
Dale Pearson, who owns a house in the Baja California community of Puertecitos, thought at first that a pilot whale was trying to strand, or that an extremely large hammerhead shark had come in to hunt at midday on May 27.
Pearson and a friend hurried to the water for a closer look, while the commotion also captured the attention of Mexican fishermen camped on the beach.
When they realized it was a full-grown great white shark, they guessed it had become trapped in a net. But they soon realized it had been struck by a boat propellor, behind its dorsal fin, and was seriously wounded.
Pearson, a dive operator who resides in Alpine, Calif., captured extensive video, but the footage is so riddled with expletives that we chose merely to publish screen shots from the encounter. (Those who wish to view the video can click on this link.)
The shark, too injured to hunt for sea lions, was foraging on stingrays (typical prey for juvenile white sharks).
"I've done several expeditions for work on TV programs with white sharks; those were always operations where I was expecting to see such an animal," Pearson, who also co-owns a California winery, told GrindTV. "But to see one in front of your house in the middle of the day, in three feet of water, completely floored me."
It seemed at times that the shark would die, as it rested on sandbars for long periods. But in each case the shark would ultimately spring to life.
Michael Domeier, who runs the Marine Conservation Science Institute, saw the video and immediately thought of the great white sharks he has tagged at Guadalupe Island, west of Baja California.
"We are always nervous about our Guadalupe White Sharks during the pupping season. Our big pregnant females pup both in the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific side of Baja," Domeier wrote on Facebook. "The Sea of Cortez is loaded with gill nets; typically the shark can break through it, but occasionally they get so entangled that they die. We agree with person who took this video, in that the injuries from the boat propeller would likely not kill the shark… they are exceptionally tough with incredible healing ability."
Adding to the chaos, Pearson and his friend were stung by stingrays as they ventured close to the shark. Pearson said he spotted the shark roaming the coastline over the next two days, and expected the predator to survive.