NW DESERT. We watched the bait ball getting smashed all morning. Every creature with fins was having a go including many large noahs that were content to happily feed alongside many tasty pelagics and bottom species that were in on the act. One big mob of predators feasting on a common meal. The action turned off as quickly as it begun,as it does.
The hardyheads (bait) were still clumped into a tight school maybe ten metres round and were milling about only a few metres from shore enjoying a few moments of peace in their fear filled lives. I threw on my dive gear and jumped in for a better look, grateful to have the company of the token euro backpacker in the camp, a german named Volkar who was blessed with enough naivete to not realise the danger and just enjoy what we were about to see.
The ocean was full of baitfish, a wall of silver twisting and turned as we swam around and through it. I was moving through a tunnel of parting fish as we swam dead through the middle of the school, i turned and looked at Volkar diving a metre beside on my right then turned to my left and saw an eight foot bronzey swimming parralel with us also a metre away. The shark was not looking at me, focused instead on the bait ahead of us. Now i have seen a few sharks in my time and are well capable of pea hearted fear in their presence, but the intentions of this one were so apparently not to feed on us, but with us, that i could not help but relax. I was pretty much staring at the fucking thing when its eye registered me with a look that could only be interperated as' What the fuck are you looking at me for? These fish aren't going to catch themselves '.Then,just as i started to enjoy what was happening Volkar saw the shark and shit himself.All i could see was a mass of bubbles where his flippers had gone from resting to 200 beats per minute shoreward.Cheers mate.I looked back and the shark was gone.My marvel at natures magnificence evaporated and i bailed too. After being back onshore for a few minutes i felt a calm i have not felt many times before or since.Every encounter i have ever had with a truly wild animal has involved fear from either party or an accepting tolerance.This animal was not scabbing food and wanted nothing from me except co operation for our mutual benefit. It wanted to hunt together. Being so close to such a large predatory animal and having it recognise me as a peer was not something that i had ever experienced before. This turned to a deep elation that slowly crept over me and lasted a couple of days. One of the greatest moments of my life.
A day of diving maybe a year later and twenty kms north of the bait ball incident. Half a km off the back of the reef after swimming from shore. Dived here many times, seen sharks, no problem. Today felt different. Twelve metres deep, visibility the same. My mate ,an extreme spearo freak, hassling me because i was refusing to spear anything. I just had a bad feeling.
That was the problem. A bronzey ,6 or so feet, showed up on the edge of our vision. Circling. No real drama normally. But not today.The more it hung around the edgier i got. This shark hated the fact that i was scared. To it fear means food, so it started getting excited. Faster, tighter circles with it's pec fins down and it's body arched. But i wasn't food. I was quietly freaking , but my mate wasn't. This was just another dive for him, he didn't know how i had felt all morning, so he could not understand why the shark was getting eratic.There were no dead or dying fish in the water, with our flippers on we were both larger than the shark. He did not realise my increasing heart rate was spinning it out. And it was ,plain as day. That shark was attracted by and excited by my heart beat. When the shark started doing flick turns and tail whips something had to be done about it. Then it disappeared.Gone. And my mate speared a fish. I could have fucking shot him myself. A spanish mackeral that bled and vibrated and shuddered and would not die. I start casting my eyes about looking for what i knew i would find, and there it is,a bullshark , round as a fucking barrel. Thats what got me, the girth.It would have been eight foot easily but just so fucking thick. It just swam right in ,straight towards us and i looked straight in its eye and there was no fear at all, no hesitation.It didnt think it was dominant to us,it knew it was. And my arsehole ratcheted up another notch.
What was happening is not a rare occurence, it happens to divers all the time ,it is how you react that determines the outcome.I was not reacting well. I had not been in the right headspace since i got out of bed, another day would have been different. In effect my fear had germinated and created this whole situation.We truly and literally create our own reality. As it turns out my mate had his own reality planned and it did not involve getting savaged by a bull shark no matter how awesome it thought it was. He swam towards it and slammed the butt end of his gun into it's face, the shark rethought it's position and shadowed us at a distance as we backpeddled to shore. My mate even kept the fish.
So we lived, drove back to camp and did our own thing. I reflected on what happened, which is a way of saying i went into a state of semi shock that needed a half dozen emu exports before i came good. To this day it rates as one of the worst experieces i have ever had.
Two sides of the coin.
P.S To my mate that was with me on the second incident,you will know who you are if you read this. One thing, your not always braver than me you carnt! But im glad you were that time. Cheers
Mate...you heard of paragraphs? I can't get two lines into that big block of letters.
Despite the absence of paragraphs, that was a captivating read. Thanks mate.
Must've lost formatting when you cut and paste. It can still be edited.
Epic story Blowy.
I was compelled to hit a "like" button. But then I realised this isn't facebook.
Outstanding read!!! Ernie and James' lovechild.
As for diving: don't understand the attraction of knowing precisely what's underneath it all - prefer ignorant bliss meself.
i keep hearing epic stories from the NW.
gotta get myself up there.
thnx for sharing that blowin
It's a good read people, just wanted to get this back on the front page so HRH Big Wayne can add to it with his witty anecdotes of Bull shark tickling in the Nerang river.
I thought he did bull shark semen farming?
Using manual extraction.
Hi Zen, how's it going? Imagine the sharks that still have fins up your way glow in the dark now! Hope you are safe and well and your business is doing as well as it can after the tsunami.
Hey jaffa, we're all good mate. Things back to normal, lots of reminders here and there- lots of construction, road fixing etc but things seem to be humming along.
Surfing too. Finally out of gloves and booties and back in a 3/2. Boardies for a month soon, yee hah!! Been getting some good uncrowded sesh's in (as you could imagine). We had a beach clean-up and fundraiser and part of the money is going into buying a geiger-counter so the Shachoh (president) of the local surfers union can measure the water quality and email it to us.
Business was touch and go for a couple of months, but up and running and my belly is full.
But hows the blowin's shark story 'eh? Brilliant writing.
PS Younger bro in Fiji at the moment. Been scoring head to overhead waves everyday. Bastard!! Looks like oz has been copping it's fair share too. Hope you're getting some.
One of the first posts I wrote on Swellnet.
And in my opinion, one of the most memorable.
I loved 'toe to toe' too.
Your secret admirer;)
One of the first posts I wrote on Swellnet.
One of the first posts I wrote on Swellnet.
Yeah I've noticed, you have paragraphs;)
I read this great piece awhile back, awesome stuff Blowin.
great story Blowin....I've heard heaps of stories like this up in the NW....from pearl divers/fisherman etc...
there was a supa interesting program done by Valerie Taylor up in the NW near Dampier,who had a theory that sharks are attracted by fear. She spent a lotta time practicing deep breathing and meditation to slow her heart beat down and keep her calm under all circumstances......
the Doco goes onto show here diving with Tiger and Bull sharks...and actually hand feeing them...no dramas all good until the camera-man starts freaking and then the sharks start getting agitated just like Blowin described...and its spreads like wildfire...all sharks start getting that eratic agitated state...and they got out of there.......so it seems that sharks can sense fear......and that fires em up to hunt.....
In that respect ( fear sensing ) , they are just like dogs .
Except unlike dogs , the bigger species probably have more go in them .
Captivating story Blowin. Cheers for sharing....