Luckily for me, weather and 70th anniversary of
the atomic bo “don’t mention the war!” are not the only things in the news. Sharks are a bit of a rarity around Japanese beaches, so when fairly large sharks not normally found in Kanto waters come close to popular beaches in Kanto waters, that IS news. Of course, for every action, there is an equal and opposite over-reaction, and the authorities have responded by doing what the seaside town in the original Jaws could have saved itself a lot of trouble by doing. From the Japan Times http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/06/national/ibaraki-beaches-ban-swimming-sharks-spotted/#.VcQDE_nLJgI
Shark sighting in Ibaraki prompts swimming ban at beaches
MITO, IBARAKI PREF. – Two sharks have been spotted off the coast of Hokota in Ibaraki Prefecture, prompting authorities in the city and in three municipalities nearby to prohibit swimming in the sea on Wednesday. According to the Ibaraki Prefectural Government, the city of Hokota received the reports from residents starting Tuesday night and the Ibaraki Coast Guard Office on Wednesday spotted two sharks, one about 4 meters long. They’re believed to be sand sharks. The prefectural officials warn that the sharks could attack humans if provoked and are urging people not to go near them. It is rare for sharks to be seen close to the shore off Ibaraki, they said. Swimming was prohibited at beaches in the cities of Hokota, Kashima, Kamisu and the town of Oarai on Wednesday. Hokota, Kashima and Oarai plan to continue the ban on Thursday.
And from the Irish Times, of all places http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/asia-pacific/shark-sightings-force-closure-of-japanese-beaches-1.2308639
Nine beaches were closed along the coast of Ibaraki prefecture in Japan on Thursday (August 6) after two sharks appeared near a spot favoured by surfers, local media said.Located about 130 kilometres north of Tokyo, police helicopters spotted on Wednesday (August 5) what they said were possibly two sandbar sharks swimming near surfers off Hokota beach.On Thursday (August 6), the beaches were closed at 8am (2300GMT August 5) with local authorities warning people not to approach the shores. An official at local Ibaraki aquarium, Aqua World, said sandbar sharks are considered harmless but could mistake humans for food as they chase fish shoals. Police said the two sharks were believed to be four metres long as they appeared 65 feet away from the shore. Ibaraki prefecture officials said so far no injuries had been reported due to the sharks but that beaches would remain closed for the moment. Aquarium officials said sandbar sharks are not native to these waters but commons in the warmer southern seas near Okinawa.
Regarding the sharks in question, the Japanese sources place them as being relatives of the sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus), although I’m not sure how helpful that is – sandbar sharks have a lot of relatives! Incidently, the Japanese name is mejirozame (目白鮫), literally “white eye shark”. I hope the sharks move on before our upcoming trip to Chiba. I’m not too concerned about the risk of shark attack, I’m more worried about what to do with the kids if the beaches are closed!
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