On the plight of the dolphins
I have lived and surfed in this area for over 50 years. Shark encounters were rare and there were lots of dolphins around. Then things started to change when the white sharks were protected. I've had several incidents were dolphins have protected me from sharks:
- Four dolphins came over to me; two under me, one on each side pressing against me.
- A group of dolphins formed a very tight circle around me.
These dolphins risked their lives to protect me from sharks. I used to see dolphins almost every surf; now it is rare to see them.
While surfing a year ago I saw a dolphin attacked by a shark outide where we were surfing. Myself and other people have seen dolphins swimming by with fins bitten off or dolphin parts on the beach. While surfing inside Cape Byron a pod of dolphins went by swimming really fast, behind them a bigger dark shape after them. The lcoal surfers haven't fared alot better thanks to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and the Ambulance crew for saving the unlucky ones lives.
A great deal of shark encounters are not reported around here. In just over a year I had three incidents involving White Sharks.
- North of the Lennox Head Surf Club on the outside bankon Seven Mile Beach I was with Martin on mats. We were just about to go in, the surf was small and the tide was coming in. Martin had drifted into the gutter when I spotted a dark shape behind him and said, "Martin, there is something big behind you." He moved quicky onto the shallow bank next to me saving his life. The white shark turned away stayng in deeper water. I'd never seen a shark this big while surfing; now it's coming back towards Martin, retreat was not an option. There was deeper water between the beach and us. I moved to intercept it so I could jam my fingers into its eye. At a distance of 8 - 10 feet it turned away and didn't come back. I checked the logged reports on the shark off the Lennox Head Surf Club; the shark had passed by earlier headed north towards us. One report said it was 15 foot, the other said 5 metres.
- Eight days later at Wategoes I was with a friend on a boogie board, he was about 25 feet away from me when he said, "there is something big and back close ot me". He held his boogie board vertically using it as a shield between him and the shark - a 10 foot white pointer. He was turning with it as the shark circed around him. I headed towards him to back him up. When I had closed to within 10 feet of him the shark broke off its circling and headed away from us, then turned back heading right at me. The water wasnt very clear, I couldnt see the shark but could track it by the boils left by its tail. A wave came out of nowhere, both f us caught it; the shark was so close I expected to be hit by it on the takeoff.
- A year later, I'm surfing out by Cape Byron when I looked behind and down spotting a 10 foot white shark coming up at a 45° angle to my legs. I spun around and faced it when I had solid eye contact on it. It stopped, hovering in front of me. The curent carrying us further out into deeper water. Now I cant see the bottom anymore - then the shark turned away fading into the depths. I had just reached shallow water when I spotted a surfer paddling toward that peak - I turned around paddling back out to warn him.
None of these incidents involving myself and sharks were reported. There have been plenty of other people involved in close calls with sharks that haven't been reported in this area.
Over the last 14 years I've had nine encounters, four involving other people. Two years after the three incidents in a year, I rushed a Bull Shark off the Lennox Head Surf Club that was very close to person's leg. Two incidents involving dolphins protecting me, and three near misses. The last one inside Cape Byron only 15 metres from the beach, big shark, two longboarders standing in knee deep water, one said to the other, "What was that, a baby whale or something?"
I'm a the beach and surfing almost every day and it's sad to see the drop in dolphin numbers and the total lack of concern shown by the conservationists for thir lives and safety. Think about the dolphins, what is being done to protect them? If I see a shark I can go into the beach, they can't!
// GEORGE GREENOUGH