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Picture Of The Month

Tight lines and fair seas, Pete!

Topic: Sharks In Alaska - The Pucker Factor  (Read 1195 times)

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Klondike Kid

  • Lingcod
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  • The Eagle Whisperer
  • Alaska Outdoor Journal
  • Location: Kenai Peninsula, AK
  • Date Registered: Sep 2016
  • Posts: 488
The recent post by Squidder_K about the great white shark attack on the Nor Cal Humboldt county kayaker fishing offshore has prompted me to pass on some pertinent information regarding the possibilities of our own Alaskan saltwater kayakers encountering a hair-raising experience at some point in their paddle boat careers.  Yes we do have sharks and they are some of the largest in the world.

Most Alaskans are aware of our salmon sharks found in our ocean waters. But perhaps you weren't aware that this species, and the mako, are the very close relatives to the Great White Shark. A salmon shark has the ability to regulate its internal temperature up to 20F above ambient water temperature, essentially a warm-blooded shark. It also feeds on marine mammals such as sea otters at times besides fish. And it can grow to 12 feet and over 1000 pounds. I've had a 10 footer right next to my 19' Bayliner in Tutka Bay and believe me at that time I realized how small a 19 foot boat was as it opened its mouth and flashed its teeth at me. It was feeding on the pink salmon run entering Tutka Lagoon.  Salmon sharks are very fine table fare but you must immediately bleed them and gut them to prevent the high concentration of urea in their blood from absorbing back into their tissues and flesh.  Commercial and sport anglers catch salmon sharks mostly as incidental catches while fishing for halibut and salmon.

Sleeper sharks in Alaska are the giant denizens of the deep....and shallow waters. They can grow to 20 feet and 8000 pounds. They primarily feed on fish but stomach samples have found marine mammal tissue and they have been observed gorging on whale carcasses that orcas have killed. So they are no stranger to fat and warm-blooded mammals. There have been some very large sleepers caught here in Cook Inlet by halibut anglers that wouldn't fit in their boats.

And this may surprise many of you. The Great White shark has been found in all waters of Alaska from Southeast, through PWS, in Cook Inlet and all the way to the Bering Sea where they may feed on walrus. Scientists suspect that the largest of the Great Whites are found in the food-rich waters of the North Pacific, right here in our backyard. They can reach 21 feet and 7,300 pounds. They feed on both fish and warm-blooded mammals as everyone knows. They are one of the most noted "shark attack" species to produce big headlines.

The take away from all this is Alaska does have sharks and some possess the capability of a lethal encounter. Needless to say when you have a ten foot anything just under the surface next to your 12 foot kayak you may find the need to wash out the insides of your dry suit when back home.

As a safety precaution, don't hang a fish stringer in the water attached to your boat. If you absolutely must, then make sure it has a break away cord to prevent the kayak from being flipped if a shark grabbed the fish. And don't forget, a Sea Lion can reach 1000 pounds and they have been known to harass kayakers in their territory as well as steal their fish stringers. Bleeding your catch could pose a threat if you hang around in the same area that you just chummed the water with blood so perhaps its wise to change locations while the tides move the scent on to other areas.


Here are a couple of salmon sharks taken in our local waters around Cook Inlet.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Take a Kid Fishing and Hook'em For Life!  ~KK~


  • Sturgeon
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  • Location: HR
  • Date Registered: Jun 2008
  • Posts: 1074
I always thought of sleepers while wakeboarding and waiting for the tow boat to take up line slack while treading water.

Have you seen this?https://www.northwestkayakanglers.com/index.php?topic=411.msg7088#msg7088