Alone at Sea with Sharks

Once I would shudder when sharks came anywhere near me for all they seem to do is steal my fish which I already had on my line. I would yell at them to go away and catch their own fish for I have bills to pay and a family to support. I see plenty of sharks, nearly every day no matter which part of the ocean I’m in at some time of day or another I’ll have Sharks following my boat. Nowadays I have found beauty in these predators of the sea through photography. Photographing sharks has been most enjoyable and rewarding, I have obtained one incredible shot of a shark which is ‘powering up’ with such force that the water is boiling (as in a kettle) from the low pressure side of its tail producing the tube of bubbles of steam beautifully captured in the following wave, some marvellous dorsal fin shots and this one which is one of my favourites and shot at sunset which I call  ‘Predator at dusk’.

Sure I have had plenty of run ins with sharks over the years.

Like the time I was hand lining for Snapper on the 50 fathom line off Caloundra. I had hooked a Snapper of around 12 pounds when a 14 ft Tiger Shark decided it was going to have it instead of me. I laid back on the hand line as hard as I dared and just managed to beat the Tiger Shark to the side of the boat and land this great table fish. However the Tiger Shark spun around and took its revenge out by attacking one of my outboard motors. With the whole leg of the outboard motor in its jaws it thrashed on the surface trying to dislodge the motor, only giving up when I hit it with a fishing rod which must have felt like only a toothpick to this mobster.  As long as I owned that outboard I had all the Shark’s teeth marks and scratches down the leg of the motor.

Then there was the day I was catching Bar Cod in 120 fathoms. I had a nice Bar Cod of 25 pounds near the surface when a 9 ft White Pointer charged in. The shark was intent in eating my Cod but I was determined to beat it and lent over the side of the boat and grabbed the fish by the gills rather than waste time with a gaff. However the White Pointer snatched hold of the tail section at the same time as I grasped the head section. Well there was no way I was letting go of ‘my’ fish and the White Pointer thought the same thing. I hung on for grim death as the White Pointer and I had a face to face tug a war, thus the result was inevitable, the White Pointer won his half and I retained my half. 

Another story to tell here would be the day I chanced across a dead Humpback whale. I had noticed a bit of a commotion in the distance and motored over to see what was happening. There was a pack of whaler Sharks two large Tiger sharks and a White pointer all devouring the carcass of a whale. I stopped the boat well short of the dead whale however the drift took me right into the whale and there right beside the boat was a 12 ft Tiger Shark tearing into the whale and appeared totally oblivious of my present only inches away.

Perhaps the most hair rising was the morning I was shooting away the last of my Spanner crab dillies. To set my gear I set my speed at about 5 knots and the boat on auto pilot. While the main line goes over the stern I clip on the crab dillies about 30 fathoms apart. I set four lines which we call a full shot with around 11 dillies on each string.

I was setting the last line of my first shot just before sunup when I noticed this very large shape very slowly coming into view and following the boat on my port side. I would clip on a dillie then look up to see if it was still there. I was trying to figure out what it could possibly be because it was ever so wide, wider than my boat. I decided it just had to be a Manta Ray because nothing else I could think of could be that wide across. I clipped on another dillie to the main line and tried to focus again on this dark shape which was merging from the depths and by now was quite close to the stern of the boat but still on my port side and the opposite side to me. My brain was still trying ever so hard to shape this thing into a Manta Ray. I clipped on yet another dillie and hastily looked to port again and there right beside the length of my boat on the port side was the unmistakeable shape of the biggest Shark ever, longer than my boat, wider than my boat, I thought to myself ‘no it can’t be a Shark, it has to be a Whale’. I just had time to really lock my sight onto the monster’s head for few seconds before I had to clip on another dillie and watch what I was doing.  No way, I thought, but there could be no mistake this was a super massive Great White Pointer Shark. For the next few minutes as the main line ran through my left hand feeling for the next marker to clip on another dillie I focused on the unmistakeable triangular pointed head of this monster. I looked again and again for I just could not comprehend what I was seeing but there could be no mistake for it was only inches below the surface and just a few feet away. It was truly like I did not believe what I was seeing with my own eyes which really felt a little creepy at the time.  Then it slowly peeled away and sank as it disappeared into the depths never to be seen by me again. That was 15 years ago. 

For many years after it troubled me, was that Shark really as large as I visioned it with my own eyes? This Great White was larger than that Shark in the movie Jaws. Every time I thought about what I saw I’d think about how big it appeared and wonder if it may had been a Whale Shark or something else, but no, I have the image of that giant’s pointed head firm and clear and embedded in my brain, the image of a White Pointer. I have now read about massive extinct relatives of White Pointer Sharks which prowled the oceans millions of years ago.  Now for the first time my mind is a little at ease about what I saw. Although common sense tries very hard to tell me different, the creature I saw that morning while setting my gear may have started out in life as an ordinary White Pointer but that morning in the soft light before sunup I think I saw Megolodon.

Recently, I was winching up a string of dillies and about to lift over the gunwale the second last dillie of that string. I was alarmed to notice that most of the net from that dillie was missing in the shape of one very large shark bite well over a metre across.

I kept winching only to find the last ten metres of rope was very frayed and the last dillie had been bitten off. So the evidence suggests that an extremely large shark bit out a dillie full of crabs with one bite and continued down the rope, grabbing hold of the last dillie.


While trying to swim away with the dillie about ten metres of rope became very frayed. This frayed section of rope would have been rubbing on the rough skin along the length of a very large shark’s body and tail before the shark finally bit through the rope. 

 

For this to be true the shark would have jaws around 1.2metres across and its length would be a little over ten metres long. Has Megolodon revisited me? ........I do not wish to believe the evidence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Richard Freeman.

 

Framed Prints of Sharks.

 

 

Alone at Sea with Humpback Whales.

Alone at sea with Sharks.

Alone at Sea with my Dolphins.

The Wreck of the ‘’SS Dickey”.

Alone at Sea with my Gannets.

Alone at Sea with my Fairy Prions.

Alone at Sea with my Albatross.

Alone at Sea with Jellies and Stingers.

Alone at Sea with my Giant Petrels.

Alone at Sea with my Storm Petrels.

Alone at Sea with my Terns.

Alone at Sea with Jaegers and Skuas.

Alone at Sea with the Shearwaters.

My 5.6 metre Shark Cat

Weather at Sea.