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September 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 42, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Mako Shark Bite Lawsuit Makes Court Progress

from the September, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Elke Specker, of IN2 Focus Media, was bitten by a shark during a guided dive while videoing mako and blue sharks in June 2015. She was diving with a group who embarked on Cetus Specula, a vessel out of San Diego, CA. As a result of the bite, Specker is said to have "sustained multiple severe permanent injuries and disfigurement, as well as emotional distress."

Mako Divers advertises safe out-of-cage encounters with mako and blue sharks in San Diego. In a lawsuit filed against Michael Kazma, owner of Mako Shark Diving, also known as 'Mako Mike,' the suit notes that they took a group of divers out and chummed the water before feeding the sharks. Specker believes that Kazma was intoxicated at this time and improperly and negligently directed the divers, including Specker, to an unsafe area. She alleges, "that to feed a swimming mako shark, Kazma held the bait so that it led the shark directly towards her." The shark bit her. Specker also alleges that Cetus Specula did not carry proper first aid or medical equipment. Represented by Richard Lesser and Richard Jorgensen, she names both Kazma and Mako Shark Diving, and Cetus Specula and Yellow Charter Boat, as defendants.

One of Specker's attorneys, Jorge Lopez, told the judge that his client was wearing a 7-millimeter-thick wetsuit when she was bitten, "so you can imagine how sharp and strong the bite was."

Adam Jaffe, who represents Kazma and the Mako diving company, told Courthouse News that his client was not drunk, and that Specker was not even bitten by the shark. Jaffe said he has a video from an unrelated third party, which shows that a mako shark did not bite Specker, but that she 'sustained a laceration' when her leg was sliced after the shark's mouth got caught on her wetsuit as it tried to escape. He added, "She had an interaction with a wild animal that turned bad, but she was not bitten."

The mako shark can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh 660 pounds. According to the International Shark Attack File, there were 42 recorded attacks by mako sharks on humans between 1980 and 2010, in which three people died.

In February of this year, Yellow Charter Boat announced on its Facebook page that it was ceasing operations. The case is ongoing.

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