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Old 07-14-2013
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Re: Great White spotted near Key West

Not a typo - it's bluefish. The worst incident took place in South Florida many years ago when 50 people were bitten when a massive school of bluefish ripped through a school of migrating menhaden that just happened to be in the same waters as a popular beach where hundreds of people were swimming and playing in the surf. Bluefish are among the most predatory species in the world, and until about 1970, were considered trashfish in the list of edible species, at least other than New England and the UK.

I've personally witnessed them rip a hooked mako shark to shreds before the shark could be landed. That mako probably would have tipped the scales at nearly 800 pounds. When a school of marauding, chopper bluefish rips through a school of baitfish, they often drive them to the surface where a feeding frenzy ensues.

Until recent years it was not at all unusual to see 20-acre schools of bluefish churning the ocean's surface to a bloody foam as they slashed their razor sharp teeth through everything that moved - including some of their own. When that happens, the hapless predator quickly becomes part of the prey. And, size has no bearing under these circumstances. A school of marauding bluefish ripping into a school of migrating herring, menhaden, etc..., makes a feeding school of piranha look like a Sunday School Picnic.

Now, Slow But Steady, there are lots of marine biologists in this part of the world. And, every one of them that I know personally works in a small segment of the entire field, and most have little or no specific knowledge of areas outside their field of expertise. Bruce Halstead worked in the field of dangerous marine animals for four decades, he's highly respected by his peers, and written several books on this subject.

As for my credentials, until just a year ago, I researched, wrote and published outdoor articles pertaining to fisheries, wildlife, conservation and boating for two dozen publications, many of which were national and international. My career in this field began in 1975. I worked with and interviewed marine, fisheries and wildlife biologists from throughout the world, including many from the National Marine Fisheries Service and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. I chaired the Maryland Striped Bass Advisory Committee, which was instrumental in bringing about the historical striped bass moratorium in 1985. I had the good fortune to interview Bruce Halstead and write about his worldwide adventures in my weekly column in the Washington Post, a column I wrote for 16 years. OK, you're a marine biologist - what's your point?

Gary
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