In the News

Skipper Uses Knife To Kill 600-Kilo Shark
October 24, 2003

Release from:
National Post (Canada)
Scott Stinson

A sea captain wrestled a 600-kilogram shark from icy waters with his hands, dragged it to land and killed it with his knife in what a shark expert decried yesterday as a senseless act of violence.

"This sounds like a human attack on a shark, not the other way around," said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File. "The shark was coming in for a free meal, and this guy decided to kill it."

Captain Sigurdur Peterson, the Icelandic skipper of the trawler Erik the Red, was watching his crew process its catch on a beach in the eastern Greenland region of Kuummiit when he saw the shark swim toward the men, who were awash in blood and fish entrails in shallow waters. Witnesses say the captain, known to his crew as "The Iceman," jumped in to keep the shark from attacking the men.

"He caught it just with his hands. There was a lot of blood in the sea and the shark came in, and he thought it was dangerous," Frede Kilime, a hunter and fisherman who watched from the beach, told Reuters.

Reynir Traustason, an Icelandic journalist who knows Capt. Peterson, said his actions were typical of his fearless nature. "He's called The Iceman because he isn't scared of anything," he said. "I know the people in that part of the world. They are really tough."

But Mr. Burgess said any threat to the crew was minimal. He said the fish was probably a Greenland shark, a large, slow-moving beast native to those waters and not known for attacking humans.

The Greenland shark typically feeds on fish and occasionally seals, Mr. Burgess said in an interview from the University of Florida, where his research group is based. "It's a big shark, but it's not sleek and fast like the types of sharks that are associated with attacks on humans," he said.

The only reports of a Greenland shark attacking humans fall under the scope of Inuit legend, he said. "There's a famous tale about a father, mother and baby in a kayak, and the shark starts hitting the boat, and they throw the baby to the shark so it won't capsize the kayak," he said. "But that's obviously unsubstantiated."