Summer shark sightings, east coast beaches

Watching TV news reports from reliable sources like ABC made me realize again how little shark knowledge is widely understood by reporters, and public relations wildlife officers. Then again when ‘news’ is reduced to 10 second grabs what can be expected?

I asked Peter Bristow to comment on his knowledge of white pointers sharks jumping clear of the water while attacking prey. I was wondering if these spectacular on film jumps were a newly learned behavior by the sharks. None of the reference books on sharks had, until recently, covered this aspect of the shark.

How informative books and magazines of the past had missed reporting on white sharks jumping mystified me.


Peter Bristow writes:

I didn’t go shark fishing with Bob Dyer but was close to him at the time, and to all the old boys in the Moreton Bay Game Fishing Club. Most of us were members of the old Royal Queensland Yacht Club too.

We got to see the latest film footage of shark fishing at the game club meetings. I was a member of both clubs.

The best stuff was 16mm B&W by Bill Fulham and Tom Fanning. They had action of whites in the air, just you see in the material with their feeding on seals today.

They all had good jump footage but I don’t think anyone outside the club meeting ever got to see it.

Whites can jump like Mako sharks (aka blue pointer shark) when hooked if they are in the mood. That was common knowledge amongst those guys.

I was honestly not interested in shark fishing spending all my time at Point Lookout catching mackerel and black king.

Something those guys knew nothing about.

The Great Whites came up the coast with the sea mullet shoals in May. I lived at Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island, and saw it all.

This migration coincided with humpback whales on their annual passage north to the GBR for their calving season.

When the whaling started along the coast at Byron Bay and Tangalooma, (on Moreton Island) it was a natural course of events for the whites to home-in on the action.

Before long there was a good concentration of whites (waiting for them) off Cape Moreton where the humpbacks passed fairly close to the coast.

The dead (harpooned) whales were towed into Yellow Patch and buoyed ready for towing to Tangalooma, (whale processing factory) on the bay side of the island.

Yellow Patch was where most of the shark fishing was done in relatively calm water.

They used large chunks of whale meat to attract the sharks. This practice was soon frowned upon by the international sport fishing people resulting in mammal flesh being banned for attracting sharks.

The results of this fishing technique were so astounding that records created by Bob and Dolly Dyer (Radio and then TV quiz show celebrity hosts and big game fishermen) during that early period have never been beaten.

Twenty years ago, the Great Whites were still frequenting Cape Moreton. The last time I was fishing there, two were behind the boat, both very big fish.

One shark that Bob wanted was a legend in the area. The chaser ships would anchor at Yellow Patch for the night and this great thing would come and lay along side.

The big shark apparently liked the warm water from the boilers. Norwegian chaser ships named KOS 1 and KOS 2 were oil-fired steam so there was always plenty of warm water.

They estimated this shark to be between 4000 and 5000 lb. It would never take the bait.

Bob (Dyer) had hook and bait in front of it on more than one occasion without result. They called it Big Ben

Thinking about the chap eaten in WA the other day and after reading Ron’s comments; I guess the poor chap did not have time to push the thing away!

I had actually met him while in WA years ago. Copyright. Peter Bristow 2009.


Isla Guadalupe Chum Ban?

The quick answer to many of the chum ban questions for 2009 is yes, the complete ban on chumming is still in effect at Isla Guadalupe.

Did it affect us in 2008? Yes and no. The Mexican Navy declared no chumming last season and went as far as sending a navy frigate to enforce the ban. Our divers still saw sharks and the value for them was still high.