October 20, 2009 § 3 Comments
Note: Shark sizes have been exaggerated by the narrator – (Chuck Faulkner the leading news reader on commercial TV who suggested changes to the script).
Documentary films made for a cinema release in 1965 had to have dramatic titles. We went a little over the top with these, to say the least. Both were, however, quality productions for their time.
Revenge of a Shark Victim was intended to be the star product but it didn’t turn out that way. Surfers heckled the overly dramatic and tragic personal events depicted in a skin diver’s life following his encounter with a white pointer. The subsequent ‘revenge’ was upon semi-harmless species and dangerous whaler sharks. Considered valid at the time but certainly not today when everyone prefers to spare sharks in preference to harming even the shark responsible for biting someone.
The late Robert Raymond (founder of 4 Corners) purchased B&W TV rights to Revenge for the sum of one thousand pounds (about $30,000 in today’s terms).
Bob re-edited footage into a new 60-minute special SHARK for his Project ’67 documentary series. It won the show a Logie.
We became lifelong friends with Bob.
Slaughter at Saumarez was the third of the three-film program. (Not listed is a surfing adventure). A better choice of title today might be something using the words: First underwater exploration of The Coral Sea.
This was a unique and very dangerous expedition in October 1964 traveling far offshore and beyond the Great Barrier Reef in a small professional fishing vessel with Capt.Wally Muller. Bob Grounds and I were the freedivers who chased grey reef sharks (then an unnamed species) with much success. It was a semi-acted documentary, ‘filmed as it actually happened’.
Highlight was the then intact 7,196 ton US Liberty ship aground on Saumarez Reef.
TV news reader Chuck Faulkner re-wrote what became an over-the-top script. He did the narration with an Australian-American accent. A five-foot long white tip reef shark became a fifteen-foot streamlined killer. Chuck believed what he saw and put this into words. We didn’t mind at the time but it was to later become a mistake regretted.
Geoffrey Harvey recorded music I’d describe as a jam-session of jazz for the soundtrack. Ah well. It was a very limited budget and also 1965.
Underwater shark films were not being made anywhere else in the world except Australia by Ron Taylor and his former partner Ben Cropp who was financially much better off by selling his grey nurse and whale shark film products to TV in Australia and especially networks in USA.
The North American’s asked Ben for a dozen more films – immediately. He couldn’t deliver so Jacques Cousteau got the contract instead.
For a brief period, Australia led the world in shark film and what would have been underwater adventure-travel productions.
Diver John Harding (left); cameraman Ron Taylor in 2004, forty years after making the three documentary films.
Slaughter at Saumarez was a fishing, spear fishing and shark encounter expedition of 1964.
Revenge of a Shark Victim was the Rodney Fox return to diving story after being bitten badly.
Surf Scene was introducing Australia’s top long board surfers of 1965 to the underwater world.
John Harding appeared in all three films, along with Wally Muller, Bob Grounds, Ron Zangari, Valerie Taylor, Rodney Fox, Robert Conneeley, Russell Hughes, Paul Witzig and the late Kevin Brennan.Rodney Fox returned to where a shark tasted him, to make the first of his many documentary film appearances.
December 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
Improvements to minimize ‘collateral damage’ could be costly yet feasible to diffuse anger promoted by environmental agencies. An obvious example might be:
1. Better positioning (where nets are placed deeper and touching the sand,
2. Leaving sufficient above-net space for surface animals to pass above);
3. Divers inspecting nets every few hours to release non sharks;
4. Tagging and releasing some sharks except the meshing net principle is, trapped, struggling or dead sharks warn other sharks to stay from danger (they are not stupid).
December 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
Ben Cropp tells his personal story of shark encounters 1960s onwards. Assisted by Lynn Roberts (above).
May 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
Meanwhile, to combat phantom pains (itches and aches etc.) in the lost lower half of a leg, Henri learned self hypnosis soon after his ‘accident’ as he called the shark attack.
The effect was, he could explain how the shark bit his leg off and almost turn the incident into humor, sometimes.
So convincing was his attitude to living normal life, without thinking I once criticized him for parking in a disabled parking space.
Mike Perry checks our boat, Amity Point, Queensland
We three rented a cabin where, at high tide, the sea water was under the floor. That cabin and many others have since disappeared as the western coast of this big sandy island slowly washes away.
The Australian mainland is seen in the distance, across Moreton Bay. To the south out of sight is The Gold Coast – in the opposite direction is Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane.
Two years ago bull shark(s) attacked and killed a swimmer just 50 meters from where Mike is standing.
Our shark diving was around the corner and offshore at a small rocky island 3 km from the holiday village of Point Lookout.
Occasional large tiger sharks are a possibility, attracted by the availability of stingrays and a few manta rays.
February 15, 2016 § Leave a comment
1. Sharks love the color red. 2. Sharks are said to be attracted to dogs 3. It’s a mistake to bump into a shark with a boat – especially when following one like the above, at any speed.
BEN CROPP and I assumed it was a tiger shark by the actions it displayed.
Could it have been a cranky Lemon shark – not an uncommon species at Batt Reef, and far out-numbered by the Tigers?
John D. Stevens (CSIRO) when asked for a shark ID, replied (in part): “It’s not a tiger shark, species unidentifiable”.
The confusion came after we saw numerous tiger sharks on the reef shallows earlier the same morning, attracted by – possibly – a harpooned dugong, sea turtle, or stingray – something large enough when injured to provided a stimulus attraction.
These were big sharks, 2.5 meters and upwards, with a single four meter monster seen the next day.
This seemed unusual for so many in a small area.
Batt Reef is a large and mostly sandy and shallow running some ten nautical miles in length, located off Port Douglas, Queensland. It is not a destination for tourist visitors. Quite a private place.
December 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
February 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
From Fathom No.2 https://fathom2a.blogspot.com.au
(Above illustration of shark teeth).From the 1950s when Grey Nurse sharks were still considered “Man Eaters”. That belief changed when the first underwater cinematographers began filming them in 1961. It took a few years for the new information to circulate in the pre-digital era.
When did white sharks begin jumping into the air after prey? It’s a recent occurrence – according to experts.
Great white shark under a surfboard.