LEGENDS SURF & SHARK MUSEUM. Coffs Harbour, Australia

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Big wave painting titled \’Scott’\ by Helen Evans

Aged eighty, **Scott Dillon** grew up on Bondi Beach where his father was a member of the surf life saving club. Scott was spear fishing about five years before a younger **Wally Gibbins** entered the sport.

For five dollars admission, Scott gives a personal commentary and guided tour of his museum. Located just off the Pacific Highway, about 7 km north of Coffs Harbour. A pair of highway signs mark the exit.

On occasions I’ve heard Scott speak of the **divers blind-spot underwater.** (More info follows below).

The museum has many young visitors from Europe these days, and of course ‘sharks’ are the topic most wish reliable first-hand information about.

News coming through via the international media (apparently compiled by non-diving journalists) can be confusing if all is taken as fact.

One internet story from Florida this week showed an aerial picture of one thousand sharks near a beach, yet sharks are supposed threatened with extinction.

Some also believe that shark fins must be ‘hacked’ (not cut) from a live shark.

That’s a distortion used by the fund-raising groups.

Sharp knives **slice** fins from more often-than-not already **dead sharks**.

In many countries it is a fisheries law that fins can only be removed on the dock where the entire shark is to be processed. Victorians are great consumers of small shark (sold as ‘flake’).

The largest selling ‘fish’ at (Woolworths – Burleigh Heads, Queensland) is a shark! The Blue Pointer sold as Mako shark.

Blue pointer also called Mako is an open ocean, species identical in shape to a White pointer except with different teeth.

The species is also commonly caught in New Zealand and northern Taiwan’s blue ocean.

I suspect the body meat is processed into fake crab sticks, fish balls and other disguised ‘seafoods.’

Closer to the Australian coast, the often reported Vanishing Grey nurse shark, has some new information to be considered.

Between the years (1970 to 1983) was the worst periods of drought in history. This was when the shark numbers declined.

The possible link between loss of natural food washing into the sea and the non-breeding – possible relocation could be investigated.

This wouldn’t have been good news value initially. The threatened extinction line being more news worthy.

Tongue-in-cheek summary:
Everyone’s mind is already made-up. Shark de-finning happens only to live sharks and the valuable meat is thrown away (at least to feed other sharks, crabs, worms and fish, but we won’t mention this), and there’s only 500 Grey nurse left in the world – although nobody can count those in very deep water, so pretend they are not there.

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**CROCODILE UNDERWATER in old CEYLON**

In this slightly-less-than two minute video, I ask Scott to tell of his underwater encounter with a huge crocodile in Ceylon back in the 1950’s. Scott and a mate had eight months of professional spear fishing at that time. The reefs were virgin territory then.

A huge croc swam between them and fortunately just kept going. A couple of days later it was netted and inspected by police who discovered the remains of a missing man inside.

(Pictures used to illustrate this tragedy are from a similar incident).

**SCOTT’S BONDI BEACH CLOSE CALL**

(Shark pictures featured with this story taken elsewhere).

DIVERS DID NOT SEE THE SHARK

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**Depth 25 meters, Wal’s Bommie, Saumarez Reef (\1974\)**

The blind spot with our face mask vision underwater is: **above and behind.**

These friends who were part of a dive team of 12 did not see the leopard shark at all.

It approached and left unseen.

The point being, it might have been a dangerous species, a tiger shark for example – something powerful that must be watched.

Why must the shark be watched?

To monitor any sudden, or erratic change in the swimming pattern that might signal and preceded a ‘problem’.

Keep your eyes open. Choose a face mask with wide vision, not necessarily something the salesman suggests.

COFFS HARBOUR FISHERMAN’S CO-OP

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The **Orange Perch** is a seasonal visitor to Coffs Harbour. Not many are caught and when they appear for sale, ‘don’t last very long’. The fish has tasty pink flesh. The fish pictured was for sale at $27 ungutted. **Red Mullet** \(top left)\ are also called **Goatfish**- probably best in a soup or seafood stew.

Snapper(\top lower right\) are found throughout the Pacific Ocean as an ‘A’ grade table fish.

** ‘Champagne lobster’** (\below\) are from deep water on the edge of the continental shelf. The present lower fuel prices are allowing local fishermen to venture the greater distance offshore to fish the shelf.

It was the first time I’d ever seen Orange perch and Champagne lobster. I wonder what they eat? The diet of the fish determines how well they taste to us.

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**UNDERWATER NATURALIST with VIDEO**
HighQuality: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/206

Special Thanks to Ken DaVico (in Hawaii) for alerting us to this gem.