tv Second Look FOX September 5, 2010 10:00pm-10:30pm PST
[ music ] >> so near and yet so far. we take you tonight to the farylon island just off our coast. and yet few people are allowed to set foot there. tell you about the abundant wildlife and the people who want to preserve it. we will also take you under the sea where this man deliberately swims with great white sharks relying only on his wits for protection. and talk to a man who barely survived a great white shark attack all up ahead on "second
look." >> hello, everyone, i'm frank somerville. there was a place only seven miles from san francisco. in fact, few people who live in the bay area have ever been there, either. it is the farylon islands. they are also a federal wildlife reserve and off-limits to nearly everyone except researchers. now, this is the time of year when the great white sharks begin patrolling the waters off our coast and that includes the farylons. they have been finding abundant food supplies near the island because of a weather cycle which could explain our weather cycle. back in 2004 ktvu's john fowler talked to the people who tracked that area mere in the bay area. re. >> reporter: re took a spectacular on the research
vessel sheerwater. scientists are investigating a phenomenon 30 miles west of san francisco on the farylon islands. it is part of the gulf and the sanctuary. they are like chunks of the moon dropped into the pacific. and are now teaming with a sudden surge in marine life. this fall, there are record high populations of seabirds, indicating a booming richness in these waters. thick with jelly fish, shrimp and plank ton, rock fish, octopus, salmon and countless smaller fish, plus the top predator here, great white sharks. great whites are drawn to these waters by large numbers of sea- lions, fattened on the new bounty. suddenly off the stern we saw a great white attack. just below this tornado of gulls, a sea-lion, a splash and a slick of red. it was over in seconds. scientists say the abun danes here now is because of a strengthening of a 25-year long cold water cycle called the
pacific decatle oscilation it can increase the nutrient rich deep ocean water. >> all of that has been slowly building. it has becoming very rich water over the last several years. >> reporter: researchers recently discovered that it powerfully drives bay area weather. the so-called pdo tracks ocean surface temperatures in the 1920s. a warm phase began with stronger storms and low ocean productivity. in the late 40s, the cool ase brought moderate west coast storms and eye productivity, lots of fish in california waters. in the late 70s, it swung back to warm. remember the powerful el nino storms of the 80s and 90s. now scientists say it is turning cool again with weaker storms and lots of fish. possibly lasting until about 2025. that strongly affects the farylons which purchase off the
pacific abyss in san francisco. cool bay wind patterns developing now drive surface water offshore drawing food- rich cold water from the deep, right to the island's rocky doorstep. scientists say the biggest fear now is a major shipping accident. that since currents sweep bay area runoff away from these islands and recent regulations now strictly limit human interference, there is little to disrupt this stunning natural cycle that's creating what could be the most plentiful ocean environment here since before the california gold rush. while some scientists tracked the weather there, others monitor the sea life there. last month ktvu's ken prichar today sailed south and got a look at some majestic sea yet you'res, the humpback whales. >> not the breaching of humpback whales is unusual. >> blue whales at 11:00. >> reporter: or the sight of blue whales afternooning slowly into the depths. it is the sheer number and
variety of these huge mammals now swimming just a few miles from san francisco that sets this year apart. >> well, we've been out for ten days. and we've seen almost every species of baleen whale you could possibly see. >> reporter: jan is a research coornator with the gulf of the national marine sanctuary. we joined her and a team of scientists aboard the research vessel fullmar. their mission is to draw a complete picture of the ecosystem of the farylons and the national marine sanctuary, from the largest of creatures to the very small. >> hello. >> yes. we're ready. >> reporter: this research is part of a program called access. a joint scientific effort to pool observations to learn, in part, what living things are hereof the san francisco coast and how to conserve them. from the observation deck of the fullmar lead scientist
takes in data from spotters. >> the common mir. >> reporter: they count and note the location of birds, sales and a variety of whales. >> reporter: one thing can you not appreciate on television is what they call whale breath. as you approach the whales you can see them surfacing but you can also smell them. because as they breathe they leave behind a strong smell of fish in the air. but this is not whale watching. the focus of this expeditions 250 mees below the surface marked in red on this screen. >> it's a very thick concentration of crill. >> reporter: the scientists drop nets to capture crill which are tiny plank ton that can rest on a finger tip but a key concentration and this year they are here in abundance. >> with that we are seeing lots of whales, humpback whales and blue whales. >> reporter: this research is intended to track changes in
the food chain to help predict future events. in 2005 and 2006, scientists say there was very little crill. >> the crill are back and in very large numbers. >> reporter: why? >> that's a really hard question to answer. >> reporter: last year, scientists discovered certain fish populations, such as sardines and anchovies had plummeted. >> the california sea lines and the cormorants didn't do well because there wasn't enough anchovy in the area. >> these expeditions enable scientists to track hot spots of life where crill, birds and whales and fish gather in numbers. more importantly they want to know if those hot spots move within the sanctuaries. >> and are they shifting into areas that we need to be able to be more concerned about it. >> reporter: ultimately the data the scientists gather can be used to make policy changes
to protect and promote our marine sanctuaries off the coast. >> to know it is so love it. and so to love it is to also protect it. [ music ] >> still to come on "second look," this man swims with great white sharks on purpose with no protection except his own wits. we will tell you how he does it and why. and a bit later, how this man survived a shark attack.
. >> we're approaching the time of year when great white sharks team in the coast here. when they are here people normally stay out of the water. but there is a marine researcher one man who goes into the water and swim with the sharks without any protection at all. signs editor john fowler first brought us his story back in 2001. >> reporter: the planet's most
feared predator has a kinder, gent letter side but just understood says one by olympic gist. and he is about to climb out of his safety cage and bet his life on the good will of great white sharks. >> these animals think. they solve problems. they socialize with one another. they are talking constantly. my job is to kind of decode that talk and figure out the meaning. >> reporter: and mark marks does that face-to-face. look at this amazing footage shot off south africa, marks with only a camera un protected with the ocean's most awsome carnivore. and wait until you see some of mark's other encounters. he is the only researcher regularly free diving with great white sharks. >> most people are worried about the mouth and the teeth. frankly, i'm equally concerned about that tail. it's like being hit with a lewisville slugger. >> reporter: great white sharks up to 20 feet long, 2500 pounds of muscle and teeth. unique among fish, they are
warm blooded and have excellent vision. they also have big brains, an astounding sense of smell and an eerie 6th sense that tracks the electrical signals of any living thing. all of that plus 70 steak knife sharp replaceable teeth. so perfectly adapted, this species is unchanged for the last 12 million years. they are prowling along the farylon island along the san francisco coast just now. this is the perfect time when sale pups are the right size for easy. >> the islands are within the deadly triangle and one of the most dangerous areas for white sharks anywhere in the world. >> reporter: experts say about 100 great whites are romming the faryrons where mark has just completed the research dives. they also congregate off south africa and australia. marks and other biologists have opened a startling new window on white shark behavior thanks
part to risky close-up work like this. >> the animal doesn't look like it is too alarmed by me swimming next to it. and yet they will come right back in and take a look. they very cognizant of what's going on. >> reporter: researchers say that great white sharks here in northern california attack dimple from those in differently from other parts of the world. here they are much more stealth think. in fact, new research shows that great white sharks are very much like tigers. biologists say tigers change their attack to forest density and time of day and the type of prey available. >> reporter: marine biologist hub earth says he has studied similarities between stalking tigers and great whites. >> each tiger adapts to its environment. the white sharks from the islands tend to come up and it is called a cryptic attack. >> reporter: in south africa white sharks across the surface. in australia they attack at
middle depths. and like tigers great whites usually hunt alone but sometimes join packs with a clearly hierarchy based on size and the bearing of teeth just like big cats. marks says one experiment where he threatens a great white to see what happens. >> right through the shark approaches and you give it a loud "hello." and this is the full display of weapons. >> reporter: the great white turns away. marks also discovered that great whites react to sounds. >> and we've used killer whale sounds effectively to try to drive off the sharks. and in some cases, they have actually excited them. >> reporter: he says killer whales scare great whites. in this attack four years ago off the islands a killer whale or orange can a killed a great white. at first it was thought to be a mother defending her calf. but now scientists say one of two adult female orange can as simply attacked and then ate
the white shark. >> at one point holding it up almost as it was holding up a trophy. then it disappeared under the waves and the other killer whale joined it and then the feeding began. >> reporter: despite more than 20 years observing great white and the unequal intimate knowledge of their behalf yore, marks says he knows what he is doing is dangerous. and he doesn't always come out unscathed. >> i have had a couple of vertebra in my back ruptured. an arm broken. i have had to stitch my head up a couple of times. >> reporter: but bay shark expert peter tags and follows great whites by using satellite mark. he says marks' free-driving is nothing less than insanity. >> all it takes is one, one mistake. what they are doing is ballsy and i think it's quite kind of stupid, frankly. because in the end it will catch up to him. >> reporter: marks cautions that spotting a fin and jumping in the water is fool hardy. what you find could be the last surprise of your life.
he says he has had to learn to control his own fear, read the behavior of these dangerous fish and retreat when necessary. >> i'm watching. i get out of the water when it is clear the animals are getting aggressive and don't want me there. >> reporter: marks promises to be back in the water next season. >> when we come back on "second look," we talked to a man who survived an attack by a great white shark. >> and we go to the farylons islands to talk to the people who actually live theremost of the day. >> 115 stabbings and 156 suspects under 18. ktvu, channel 2 news explores why more and more children are caught in a violent cycle. >> i will go back and i will shoot someone. >> reporter: the fight to stop kids from killing each other. >> wednesday on the 10:00 news, the complete bay area news coverage.
. 35 years ago a movie premiered that played on one overwhelming fear, that a relentless deadly villain would strike suddenly, severely and without any warning. the movie of course was "jaws" and the villain was a massive great white shark. over the years there have been those who have been attacked by a great white and actually lived to talk about it. >> reporter: one moment he was paddling in six feet of water, watching for the next wave. the next he was fighting for his life. >> like a quarter second before
i knew that something was going to hit me and i knew it was a shark. >> reporter: marine experts estimate the great white shark was 15 feet long. >> the first time he hit me he didn't get me in his mouth. i was sitting on my board and imagine a shark trying to eat you. he just hit me really hard. he couldn't fit me in. and it kind of threw me probably about 10, 12, 15 feet but i still had a hold of my board and still tried to paddle away from him. he latched on to my torso and my board kind of sandwiched me. i am hitting him with my left fist. two nearby surfers watched in horror. >> he was under probably for four seconds. he came up and there was just blood everywhere. >> he latched on to my leg and actually swallowed my leg. he had me so i was bam, bam kicking him with my heel. >> reporter: as he kicked the dolphins formed a wall around him. >> doing tail whips and trying to keep the shark away from me.
>> reporter: todd says he is still not sure what made the shark let go. his friend joe janson swam into the circle of blood and repeatedly told him to get on his board. >> seriously, god sent us a wave, me and joe both. a perfect little wave came right then right to us. >> reporter: that wave got them safely to shore. todd never saw the great white again. but his wounds were severe. the first bite was 40 inches from his shoulder-blade to almost the top of his leg. the second bite where the shark swallowed his leg was ten inches long. he lost half the blood in his body. it took five and a half hours of surgery, 500 stitches and 200 staples to put him back together. while todd is still undergoing physical therapy and although he remembers the attack with crystal clarity, on this day he looks wistfully out to the water. >> you know there is a risk. you choose to take that risk. and then, you know what
happens. they are definitely not an enemy. i'm not happy with the one that bit me. but there is really nothing, you know, we can do about it. i might as well have died if i am not going to surf again. >> when we come back on "second look." what it's like to live on the farylon islands. we will visit some people who have done it. south of laredo, there's a place... so hot, rattlesnakes combust. ♪ but we go, cause ya gotta eat bold. [ male announcer subway fiery footlong subs. the bold-acious new turkey jalapeño melt and buffalo chicken. subway. eat bold!
. >> we've been taking a look at the farylon islands west of the golden gate. few are allowed to land there and those who do so with a purpose, to help preserve the wildlife. back in 1998 ktvu's bob mckenzie brought us their story. >> reporter: there is something a little spooky about the approach to the farylon island or maybe we are imagining the ghosts of sailors where pirates was wrecked here.
a skeleton was once found in one of the island's caves. the national wildlife refuge has no welcoming beach or even a pier to accommodate visiting boats. the few people who are allowed to visit the island get on land by being hoisted there. they step into a suspended raft and are lifted away by a crane. this is one of those places in the world where human beings don't matter very much. the important inhabitants belong to other specie it is, marine birds and mammals. perhaps that's what gives the islands their magic. even people who live here most of the time are always visitors. >> every day that i'm here i feel it's a privilege to be here. and to learn from the wildlife here. but also just to be on the island because i realize that the public can't come here. and i am seeing an amazing place and amazing things happen out here. and it is a privilege. >> reporter: michelle hesler a
biologist lives here alternating five weeks on the island and two weeks off. she studies bird and animal populations for the u.s. fish and wildlife service. >> i want to look at you. >> reporter: other visitors are more temporary. elsa jenson is a doctor who volunteers for three weeks every summer helping keep track of bird populations. for certain species, the majority of the world's population breeds here on the islands. it isn't exactly a vacation. the island is usually cold and always windy and the work is never done. >> it's something we're not used to. i'm not used to because i worked in doors. >> yes. >> and being outdoors 12 hours a day in the wind and the cold is hard. and stairing through bin being a already bine oculars and telescopes all day and watching birds and become patient enough to watch them. >> reporter: so why do it,
then? well, you have a passion for the place or you don't. >> to me it's like how the earth began. it is so brimming with life and just all of these species that are packed on this tiny little island. and the marine mammals are here. and it's really an area of complete wilderness relative to anything we have in the bay area. >> reporter: volunteers are often fascinated by the history of the island. a mostly dark history of human greed. california sea-lions and elephant seals are safe on the island now. but there is a species rarely seen these days, the northern fur seal. that's because hunters in the 1800s came to the island and slaughtered them by the hundreds of thousands, selling the pellets for $2 apiece. in gold rush days, the mirs of the islands had a tough time reproducing because egg gatherers climbed over the rocks stealing their eggs. there were few chickens in
california those days and the gold miner would pay $1 for an egg. >> even these labourers climbed the cliffs and flushed outline of the mirs, broke all of the eggs. and so then they would know that when they came back in two days, there would be fresh eggs. and then they would clean out the eggs, battling on the cliffs with the seagulls for the eggs. >> reporter: even after biologists began studying the island species and became concern we had saving them, the navy used the islands for target practice. fishermen would swing by and shoot the seals. today the animals here have mostly lost their fear of human beings so a visitor can get a close view of them. the paradox of the islands is that the refuge is public property, yet the public is forbidden to go there. it's because the bird populations, which include exotic species such as the puffin are too fragile to bare
much company. >> if you did have tour groups here constantly, there would be certain bird colonies that would be deserted. >> reporter: and if you were thinking of the islands as a quiet getaway, well, it is certainly getaway but far from quiet. the seagulls never shut up. (seagulls chirping) . >> it does drive us crazy sometimes, especially when we're monitoring the gus. but you get used to it. they squawk all night long as well. >> the islands are full of special breeds, including the people who live and work there. [ music ] >> and that's it for this week's "second look." i'm frank somerville. we will see you again next week.