“I began writing blogs about diving and shark history during the era of dial-up internet access. It was a while before I had a digital camera. Since then cameras have improved out of sight. Brilliant video now shows sharks being fed and trained to accept the presence of divers.
Our knowledge of sharks is being re-written every few months. Young women swimming alongside giant dangerous monsters gives a false impression to non diving environmentalists.
Dead sharks, once the only way we could study and get-to-know the species is now shunned.
Well-meaning environmental groups need funding and sometimes campaign with distortions of truth.
This blog will not be able to inform fully. It’s a tiny glimpse into the past and how we began exploring the underwater world as free diving fishermen. It shows an era when it was believed the chance of being killed by a shark was a possibility every dive.
There were fewer sharks along the Australian coasts in the 1960s than there are today”. (JH Harding
Private scrapbook 1960s-1970s. These clipping are not the first to be published on this subject in Australia. January 1969. Baby sharks saved and returned to the sea to swim away. At the time, some would have regarded this as an ignorant error. To set the record straight, we did not sit down at a table a decide what was going to be a worthwhile cause. What happened was a combination of things, pictures taken then magazine and newspaper editors coming up with a storyline.
The baby sharks being set free can be attributed to Yvonne Rockman who was standing behind the cameras with her husband, the future Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Irvin Rockman CBE. “Let them go” was Yvonne’s shouted suggestion which was followed. The 16mm camera was rolling and the images were to be first seen in Japan on the national NHK TV station. What the reaction there was, is anyone’s guess.
Correct date: 10 November 1968 on North Stradbroke Island, Queensland.
It’s been a good story for newspapers over the years. Shark attacks. Far more of them were occurring in the 1930’s – obviously when the Australian populated coast had better stocks of seafood to attract and feed the predators.
Looking at a small sample of shark attacks in newspaper files indicates how these tragedies gave been forgotten. There has been, seemingly hundreds of shark attacks around our coast – more than what is commonly stated.
Here is a sample from the archives from pages 10 and 11 – it could form a good university study in changing journalism standards over the years.
Big, pregnant great white shark caught off Taiwan’s north-east coast. (20 March 2019)
A Great White shark measuring over 4 meters long was delivered and sold at a fish market in Su’ao Township, Yilan County today, March 20, after being caught as by catch off the northeast coast of Taiwan.
The shark weighed in at 1170 kilograms and was sold by auction at a price of NT$50 (US$1.62) per kilogram for a total of NT$58,500 (US$1,898.90).
A researcher from Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center, Dr Jeng Ming-shiou said it is the biggest specimen of great white that he has ever seen.
When an incision was made in the shark’s abdomen, it was revealed that the shark was a female, and contained 14 baby sharks.
The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a vulnerable species. It takes 26 years for a male great white to reach sexual maturity, while the female takes 33 years.
At the same time, among all shark species, the great white shark is responsible for the largest number of shark attacks on humans.
In October 2012, a great white measuring 6 meters and weighing 1750 kilograms was caught off the coast of Yilan County.
I was on Lederkyn sulphur tablets courtesy of Riversong’s medical kit. It was a potentially close call for me. When Captain Wally Muller dropped us on North West Island for our camping and diving holiday, I was still OK to stand-up and walk.
The captain’s last words were, “I’ll be back to pick you up for more spear fishing. See you in either three days or failing that, in a week from now”.
Fortunately Wally was back in the shorter time. In those three days away my leg ballooned with infection. It was too painful for me to stand upright. I dragged myself along the sand to the ‘toilet’.
When Wally Muller returned in three days and saw my problem he radioed for instructions. The treatment was Lederkyn sulphur tablets every four hours with lots of water to prevent crystals forming in my kidney’s. (I picked up his radio transmission on our transistor radio – there was nothing more that could be done).
So the infection was a week old by the time I got to a hospital at Yeppoon. (The outcome would have been a lot worse, maybe even fatal had bad weather prevented my return to the mainland). The suggested hospital treatment was to ‘lance’ the infection. The old hospital had a few blo flies coming through the open windows and doors. (No AC in ’63). A bad sign.
So back to Sydney by plane. End of the trip for me. I don’t remember what treatment (if any) happened in Sydney as no notes appear in my book. Writing ceased from when the infection began to take hold. I must have been ‘crook’.
Valerie (speaking this week in March 2019) remembers the Yeppoon hospital had suggested they amputate my leg!
I only remember a very swollen leg that had a lot of fluid within.
Ron, Val and Snowie then went back to the Man and Wife Rocks to film sea snakes with black and white 16mm movie film. This was when the hedge-cutter scenewas devised. Snowie (reluctant to get near a snake) filmed Ron chopping up a sea snake with the cutters – an unusual form of defense being demonstrated. That film was included in one of Ron’s live presentation film shows.
Ben Cropp borrowed the idea and used it in his documentary ‘Mermaids in Paradise’ (1966) featuring Gai Girdlestone (pictured) with Kathy Troutt and Van Laman as the mermaids.
On their way back to Sydney a stop off at Tweed Heads where Ron and Snowie returned to Nine Mile Reef, speared a Grey Nurse shark and brought it, still showing signs of life, back to shore where it was carried to the nearby Jack Evans Pet Porpoise Pool, thus becoming the first shark caught by skin divers for display in captivity.
Their slightly conflicting versions of the event was published in Skindivers magazine.