UN logos
Life on board
All that was left was the head. Photo: Mathilde Bryn Eikefjord

A shark stole the dinner

4 months ago
Written by Ronald Toppe
Life on board > A shark stole the dinner

A shark stole the dinner

4 months agoLife on board
Written by Ronald Toppe
All that was left was the head. Photo: Mathilde Bryn Eikefjord

A nice tuna on the hook, but all that came on board was a severed head.

The last Friday in July, Statsraad Lehmkuhl headed north in the Coral Sea, just west of Vanuatu. The Coral Sea got its name from the Great Barrier Reef a little further west, and it was into this warm water that the crew set out a line eager to have some fresh fish.

And hurray, a nice tuna took the lure! But still, the chef at Statsraad Lehmkuhl had to come up with something else than fish for dinner.

The head only

- We have a new fish story to pass on about how another tuna went lost when a shark got a hold of it just as the Chief Officer was reeling it on board during sundown yesterday – he ended up with only the head of the fish, wrote captain Seidls in his log.

Fish heads make good fish soup, and the cheek meat and tongue are a delicacy. But this tuna was not large enough to feed an entire ship.

A head with long pectoral fins. Photo: Mathilde Bryn Eikefjord
A head with long pectoral fins. Photo: Mathilde Bryn Eikefjord

Tunas can get huge. The species that lives in the north of the Atlantic, bluefin tuna, can grow to four and a half meters and weigh over 650 kilos. The fish Statsraad Lehmkuhl caught on the hook appears to be an albacore, or longfin tuna, which can weigh up to 60 kilos.

An albacore catch. Photo:Joachim Langeneck / Creative Commons
An albacore catch. Photo:Joachim Langeneck / Creative Commons

It got its name because of the long pectoral fins, seen in the photos Mathilde Bryn Eikefjord took of the sad remains that were left on the hook.

Several of the tuna species are endangered, but not albacore. It is found in all tropical waters, where it mostly feeds on squid, and is an important fishery resource.

A tiger shark?

The shark took its dinner down into the depths before anyone could take a photo of it.

There are over 60 different species of shark in the Coral Sea, but most stay far down in the depths. The thief was a great white shark, a tiger shark, a bronze shark, a hammerhead shark, or another of the ten species hunting close to the surface.

The only shark in the Coral Sea free of suspicion is the whale shark. This is the largest of all fishes, 15 meters long and 20 tonnes heavy, but it feeds only on tiny plankton.

A whale shark. Photo: Creative commons
A whale shark. Photo: Creative commons

Bathing stops

Sharks are in sharp decline due to overfishing. The Coral Sea is one of the few areas where there are still large and viable populations of them.

No wonder the captain ends his report a little surprised.

- Even after this incident, there are still requests for a bathing stop.

According to the original plan, the ship was to visit the small island state of Vanuatu, but the delays due to Covid-19 meant that the call was unfortunately cancelled.

The next port is Palau, which the ship will arrive on August 24.

One Ocean logoUN logos

The One Ocean Expedition is a circumnavigation by the Norwegian tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl. We aim to to share knowledge about the crucial role of the ocean for a sustainable development in a global perspective.

Website by TRY / Netlife