A great mixture of marine life comes aboard a prawn trawler off the West Australian coast.   Prawns comprise a small percentage of the total weight.

Bob and Dolly Dyer were our first celebrity fisher folk

Bob Dyer

Bob was one of the two great stars of radio, in the 1950’s. The other being Jack Davey. Bob and his lovely wife Dolly branched in TV from 1956 and brought to our screen his quiz shows and often fishing clips from his adventures.

When Bob won a Cadillac in a fishing contest in USA he showed film footage of this and his fishing adventures on his quiz show.

Movietone News (a weekly newsreel in cinemas) made a special on Bob’s shark fishing. The original footage is probably lost today. A flood in the film vault having destroyed much of the Movietone archive.

I saw a surviving 35mm copy of the shark fishing documentary years ago at the Palm Beach Theatre on the Gold Coast. It was memorable as big sharks were being caught off North Bondi in Sydney. The camera pans – without cuts – to show thousand of swimmers not so far away from all the action.

At the time we were shocked to learn so many sharks were so close. It was a dramatic expose of the sea.

One of the reasons adventurous kids took up spear fishing and later scuba diving.

Equipment advertisers (in 1970’s dive magazines) used to think sharks were scaring people away from the sea. It may have been frightening for the weak ones, others regarded it as a source of good adventure.

Dive shops of the sixties used to down play the shark hazard. “There has never been an attack on a diver who was scuba diving” was a common quote – until it began happening.

Today the ‘experts’ speaking on the media say “there is no increase in the shark population” – which may be true. So how come three people were bitten this week? “More people in the water” is one reason given.

I’ll add another possible reason, the white pointer sharks are becoming educated (trained) to come closer to boats and divers without hesitations of the past”.

Another popular quote I hear all the time and one which we believed in the 1960’s to be true, but have since thought a bit deeper and now see how weak it is today:

“The shark made a mistake when it bit the surfer”

Rubbish. Sharks will bite anything and some will swallow anything. To insinuate there is a mistake made when they bite a person…… what’s that suppose to mean? That we are their friends and they made a mistake? Or they thought the diver was a sick seal and made a mistake? Knowledge is a lot better today but the quotes from the sixties are still being copied and passed on by today’s media experts on the subject.

The media has always beeen in too much of a hurry to check other possibilities. Blame the editors for this.

More on sharks from Peter Bristow in Madeira

Professional game fishing charter captain Peter Bristow does not agree with my point about sharks being trained by cage diving chumming, and writes:

I heard about the Australian shark attacks this week. I have the Oz ABC as my home page when I turn this thing on I get all the news.

Also not so sure about the shark cage (training sharks) theory. I think there are a lot more people in the water nowadays exposing themselves to these dangers. Looking at a surf board from underneath looks very fishy. So does someone in a wet suit look like a seal.

A hungry white is not going to hesitate munching on a fresh seal or anything that looks like it. You might call it live bait for whites.

Sharks have periods of incredible aggressiveness and will bite at anything that moves. I don’t know why? The jury is out on that one for me.

Re your comment (in an email) on their eye out of the water. That really happens.

I had one do that to me off Point Lookout (Southern Queensland, Australia) once.

I was snapper fishing off Flat Rock.

On my first drift off The Sevens I had three snapper on. This thing took two of them but I was able to get the third fish away from him. I was able to pull the snapper at high speed as he did not want to stay down there either.

What followed it up just got bigger and bigger.

Then it turned under the boat and looked as long as my 18 foot dory.

I already had a boat full of fish in the pit with their throats cut and bleeding. It lay along side for a moment with its eye out (above water) looking at me. Then it swam off and turned and came back right at me and shook the boat.

I looked around and realized I was absolutely on my own. I knew these things had a reputation of grabbing boats and thought ‘Oh shit, this is it’. I jumped into the engine hatch and tried to start the single cylinder engine by strapping the flywheel. I flooded the dam thing. Then the shark came back along side so I hit it with the 3 foot long stick gaff. All that did was piss him off.

He was after the blood source from the boat. He must have hit the boat on the bottom once or twice more and then I realized I must get the engine going. I strapped it for all I was worth with the throttle wide open and finally it went. I threw her into gear and left the shark there. It did not move. It just lay there on top with that great dorsal full out and did not move.

I will never forget that great black eye out of the water looking at me. Not for as long as I live.
Now I have to try and get some sleep.

VIC HISLOP (Queensland Shark Fisherman) SAYS
Mr Hislop said humans are as appealing to sharks as any other marine creature.

“Don’t ever believe this rubbish about ‘they take a bite; they don’t like humans’,” he said.

“That is just so wrong. They take a bite and wait for their victim to bleed to death to finish them off. And that’s why we escape.”

Marine animals bitten by sharks naturally panic, swim around and bleed to death before the shark moves in again to devour them, he explained. (See Catch 22 story below)

Mr Hislop said he believes commercial fishing levels and the fact great white sharks are protected in Australia would result in more attacks on humans.
(NewYork.the full interview):

Note: At the 2002 Taipei International Shark Conference, after days of presentations and much consideration given to and by some 60 shark experts, the bottom line was: “to have more contact with fishermen and learn from their experiences” (or words to this effect).

In other words the indoor researchers should communicate better and more often with the outdoor researchers (the fishermen).

Ego clash eventually might occur and we end up where we are today. Non ‘experts’ telling the world a lot of rubbish. Or should we blame the TV news editors who trim video interviews to 10 second ‘grabs’.

One guy interviewed this week said “more humans are killed by domestic pets than are killed by sharks”. Except what happens to a dog when it kills a child?

The other quote put into the mouths of grieving relatives of a shark victim (and edited out so that just the answer is heard) “Would he want the shark (that ate him) killed”? It’s a fashionable question that gets asked all the time, from “the little book journalists questions to ask”.

Try asking a grieving parent after a dog has just killed her 3-year old child “Do you want the dog held responsible for what it did”? The police would have already shot it.

So why do sharks suddenly get preferential treatment over man’s best friend?

It’s the mainstream media’s poor choice of people to interview, telling you what to think.

Jan.18 2009:
(Very large shark seen biting tail off dolphin, before eating it).