On the plight of the dolphins

George Greenough
Swellnet Dispatch

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:

  1. Four dolphins came over to me; two under me, one on each side pressing against me.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Comments

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 7:38pm

Didn’t you get the memo , George ?

White pointers are an apex predator. In layman’s terms , this means they are Gods swimming the Earth. Exempt from the interaction of humans. Without them the world dies a slow , painful death.

And as there’s obviously only binary choices in this good vs evil world , then too many pointers is not enough. We must protect them until there is a white pointer for every square metre of ocean .

And the other uninstagramable animals who share the oceans with them ? Who gives a fuck.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/queensland/humpback-whales-at-risk-from-...

Sarcasm was used in this post.

Deathmecanix's picture
Deathmecanix's picture
Deathmecanix commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 7:20pm

You just won the internet. Fucking love it. Shark huggers gonna hate

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 2:41pm

It is true though, they are the new fluffy seal.

Zac Bald's picture
Zac Bald's picture
Zac Bald commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 11:02am

White Sharks are likely returning towards their historical numbers before pre-colonial sealing. As the fur seal populations have recovered along Australia's southern coast, so have the sharks. Dolphins are preyed upon by sharks however there are much larger threats facing our coastal dolphin populations such as industrial development leading to habitat modification, increased boat traffic and the build up of toxins within their bodies from stormwater and agricultural run off. Sharks aren't the issue, people are.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 11:27am

Can’t they both be issues ?

Zac Bald's picture
Zac Bald's picture
Zac Bald commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 11:36am

I guess you could view it as an issue but I don't view a natural predator prey interaction as an issue

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 11:41am

So if we eat the pointers you’d be all good with us depleting their numbers ?

Garryh's picture
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Garryh commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 6:13pm

Hmmm...how about this hypothesis. A couple hundred years ago...there were many many many whales migrating up and down the coast, they were close inshore and offshore...a regular sight...including many dead whales. Closely following that migration were many many many large white sharks. Then whales were hunted...perhaps thinned out by around 95% (whaling ceased I think in 1978 in Australia). Everything that fed on whales also reduced by more than 90%...including great whites (and all the other creatures that fed on carcases and whale droppings)

Now 40 years later...it's more common to see the whales...and of course their predator populations are also now increasing.

How's that stack up for you...can anyone punch holes in this hypothesis?

If it's correct the last 40 years has seen the lowest populations of big sharks for tens of thousands of years...just at the time when surfing became more popular....perhaps the tide is turning.

WinterSwells

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 11:29am

It does make the salient point though that with a white shark recovery plan and the recovery in white shark numbers there will be winners and losers.

Winners: white sharks.
Losers: surfers and dolphins.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 11:33am

Port Phillip Bay has loads of dolphins, which often makes me think how many whites are cruising around in there.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 1:26am

Lots. Believe me I know....

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 11:22am

How?

Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68 commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 11:47am

I would assume GWS would of been hunting dolphins since forever & the population sizes of both species would of naturally increased & decreased over time for various reasons. The “unnatural” intervention of protecting GWS would be having an effect of sorts but trying to accurately assess/measure this effect will be difficult in the short term.

George has had 9 shark incidents over the last 14yrs & luckily has avoided being attacked. Given he spends “almost everyday” in the ocean, it’s still a pretty rare occurrence in a body of ocean that sounds alive with marine life.

If the GWS population has greatly increased since being protected, then it’s hard to imagine shark/dolphin shark/human encounters decreasing without reducing the GWS population. I think that’s the elephant in the room.

Crystal Clear

JosephStalin's picture
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JosephStalin commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 12:32pm

From my time working on fishing boats I'd have thought a shark actually snaring a dolphin would be rare or only the old and weak dolphins would fall prey, cause I saw them interact a lot and the dolphins would run rings around them

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 12:40pm

If a dolphin was aware it’d evade most sharks pretty easily , but they’d let their guards down and the stealthy noahs would nail them. Just like people , there’d be stupid individuals and the times when smart individuals act stupidly.

uncle_leroy's picture
uncle_leroy's picture
uncle_leroy commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 12:36pm

There is a bloke in Shark Bay WA that blames people fishing for increased shark attacks on the dolphins at Monkey Mia. Same bloke can't do the maths and accept that hand feeding dolphins for decades makes them dumb, slow and lazy = shark bait.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 12:44pm

Shark bay is appropriately named . Sounds redundant to say so , but there is a fuckload of sharks there. Worth checking out if you’ve ever wanted to shark watch.

I’ve dreamt of opening a shark dive operation there except it’s just teaching sharks to associate humans with food even more than they already do.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 2:13pm

White sharks preying on dolphins does explain a lot of the modus operandi of shallow water attacks on surfers.

white sharks using shallow water and white water to ambush attack seems to be the method.

They obviously couldn't catch a dolphin in open water but could easily ambush by that method.

Big, fat laden meal for a sub-adult/juvenile white shark.

bonz's picture
bonz's picture
bonz commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 4:02pm

I dont want to see Flipper die just as much as I didnt want to see a Wildebeest get taken by a croc in the Mara river. But thats nature.

adam12's picture
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adam12 commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 4:06pm

Disturbing topic but gee it's good to hear from the man himself. Crystal Voyager, Innermost Limits, Echos are the reason I became a surfer.

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 4:42pm

Saltwater Dolphin People.
Hunting dogs died, with them respected white haired hunter/provider Gowanda dies.
On the beach children see white tipped dolphin Gowanda surfing as lead dolphin.
Hunter Gowanda now brings his bounty to his people via the sea.

Sea Rise Story describes People / Dogs / Dolphin working as one harmonious unit.
We know Aborigines can task with Dolphin & Dog to draw in or ward off sealife.
We also know that Dolphin / Dog / Human shared equally their bounty.

East Coast surfers storyline "Aboriginals Women's Fishing in NSW" *****
https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/cultureheritage/10132abwfis...

(Dolphins on daily Shark Patrol duty)
[L]> Ruby Langford Book (Excerpt: Pages 38-39) "Casino Mob turn up at Yamba"

"Every morning the same Woman up the beach, chanting in high notes, callin out!
Quite an old woman very black standing atop the cliff.
Fisherman say: "She is calling for the porpoises!" As she did each day of the holidays.

The porpoises came and circled the beach all day while the children were swimming.
Once the children returned to shore the Dolphins headed back out to sea.
Fisherman say: "Never been Shark Attack on that beach."

Just as men echolocated to Dolphin with spear tip splashing & seabed sounding.
The women would sound out Dolphins from above the waterline atop headlands.
Again we see Sea creature unity embedded throughout the whole community

However for each dream story there is tragedy.
Killing a dolphin was taboo in Saltwater World 'Pacific Wide'.
I have read a story from here abouts of a selfish killing that broke the bond.
It only takes one selfish killing for local community to be rejected by Dolphin.
This rule applies throughout Pacific and applies to all reverent creatures even Shark!

Yet another Shark Bay Story...
Most places where "Porpoise Played" were tagged "Shark Bay"
Here on the Gold Coast we once had 2 Shark Bays & Porpoise Point.
None of which related to the actual Dolphins that resided at all said locations.

North' Shark Bay was reclaimed (1937) as a land bank now called 'Main Beach'
South' Shark Bay >(1925) Rainbow Bay (Featured Snapper Rocks & Little Mali)
1995 Sandpumping reclaimed Snapper / Little Mali / Greenmount / Kirra-Reefs / C ck.
2007 Superbank! Half faced whip wave speeding from Tweed River to Nerang River.

All former Shark Bays are now circled by whiteshoe Land Sharks.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 6:19pm

And thanks for contributing Mr Greenough.

Salmondog's picture
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Salmondog commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 6:57pm

Dolphins go where the food is, simple as that.

redmondo's picture
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redmondo commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 7:15pm

Man, the destructive hand of man is the greatest threat. To all living things land and sea.

Deathmecanix's picture
Deathmecanix's picture
Deathmecanix commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 7:25pm

If you have children then your statement means that you are creating that destructive force, so best not procreate and spread your filthy "threat".

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 7:23pm

Mostly eh , but when it comes to a pod of dolphins in the Bay, Greenough is a lot less destructive than a teenage white shark.
He has relationships with those animals that the greenies who idolise white sharks could not even fathom.

He's well placed to comment. No one better.

Santosha's picture
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Santosha commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 7:30pm

Very few around with the long time experience or insight of George . Thanks mr Greenough. Yes the whites are the apex predator, but protected and multiplying while other marine life is diminishing with human activity and intervention . On a more serious note , humans are really the apex predator on land sea and air, so lets exercise our apexivity and mow some mutha chompin gumby teethed noahs down . And i kind of accept that if super intelligent aliens came here and wanted to herd and eat us coz we were tasty and melted in their mouth, well what can we say... but ..enjoy your apexhood you goggle headed greys.

redmondo's picture
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redmondo commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 8:16pm

No children

Groper's picture
Groper's picture
Groper commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 8:27pm

Dolphins are also protected. Call em River Rats. They would directly compete with Juvenile Whites for food source.
This would have included Australian Salmon which have all but disappeared this far north since the reintroduction of beach hauling em for bait in fish boxes. Haven't caught one in over 5-6 years since reintroduction, before that they were in plagues.

uncle_leroy's picture
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uncle_leroy commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 8:41pm

Wouldn't that be more due to warmer water? generally 10 year cycles. No cold water getting up the coast = no salmon
In WA but still relevant, salmon were caught in Exmouth last year, tropical Exmouth, very weak Leeuwin current (EAC but WA version) the past few years, late starts to summer, lots of southerlies and colder water temps, thus salmon pushed further north. In warm current years they barely make it to Perth.
So in NSW terms, that would equate to salmon being caught at lady Elliot island in qld one year, and then not making it past Newcastle other years.

Watery's picture
Watery's picture
Watery commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 10:04pm

Great Whites have been around in the current form for 11 million years (and sharks for 400 million). Bottlenose dolphins have been around for 5 million years (and dolphins for up to 50 million). They evolved together, so dolphin/GWS interactions have played out for a very long time, and dolphins continue to exist.

Homo Sapiens have been around for 200,000 years (on land, in Africa), started to get ahead from around 100,000 years ago, but only really started damaging every natural system on the planet over the last 100-200 years. These are not evolutionary timeframes.

We have the technology to make GWS extinct. So the question is where do we draw the line on using our dominance of the last 100 years to mess with systems that have functioned for thousands of millenia?

ojackojacko's picture
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ojackojacko commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 11:11am

this

onya watery

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 10:47pm

Generally dolphins have more to fear from their own species than other predators.
And i thought we were just told how full of dolphins and turtles the area is ..
https://www.swellnet.com/news/swellnet-dispatch/2019/01/31/drones-deploy...
George is spot on with dolphins being hit by sharks with more frequency. The stress of even losing a calf in a pod to a shark will affect their behavior in local areas for months, years...
The other relevant point is the undocumented encounters. I,m sure that list is long , and that I could add to it , as with many others .
But what are the odds on the north coast ,, sharks v dolphins ,, apparently 135:1 {sportsbet drone}
@ Groper, Australian salmon numbers are pretty rampant in many areas and beach haulers I know are pretty limited in how much they can take after complete bans in plenty of places. The other thing is they are rarely targeted by many haulers because of the damage they to nets while chasing other marketable species.Not to mention the few available processing markets and low beach price. Some places do target them with larger nets but they also have larger migratory salmon populations.
The east coast is alive with them and in fact these bunch of marauding pests do shitloads of damage to juvenile fish stocks , especially when they hit the estuaries in large numbers and devour every fucking thing in their way.
50 cents a kilo

Groper's picture
Groper's picture
Groper commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 12:15pm

Sure the movement of Salmon along the east coast is cyclic and only time will tell.
A closure prohibiting the taking of Australian salmon by netting methods in NSW
waters north of Barrenjoey Headland was implemented in August 2001; however since April 2006 commercial beach haulers have been permitted to take Australian salmon for personal bait use, nothing to do with the marketplace. This was implemented to take the pressure of the baits schools of the South Coast. Since this decision the NSW annual commercial catch of Salmon has double since 2006/07. Schools of Salmon play an important ecological role in energy transfer amongst the upper levels of the pelagic foodchain in our inshore ecosystems. Little fish->Medium fish (Salmon)->Big fish (Shark). Any drone footage of Salmon schools demonstrates the importance they play in a sharks diet. Not saying its the only factor but surely a potential contributing factor that must be discussed, especially when considering the timeframes ("Over the last 14 years I've had nine encounters").

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 1:17pm

Thats an interesting point but the facts are here on the far north coast (Lennox-Ballina) we had some big salmon years in the late 90's where they were in plague proportions then since 2001 or so we rarely see any schools.

I know Aus salmon are one of the favoured prey for juv. white sharks.

The lack of salmon here means we need another explanation for the prevalence of juv/sub-adult white sharks.

Also we seem to get the bigger white sharks in summer.......why, I don't know unless they are deliberately targeting dolphins pods.

That maybe something new. Dolphin pods may be historically large here due to lack of predation /marine parks/less inshore commercial fishing etc etc.
Adult white sharks may be choosing them as a prey source instead of heading south towards traditional prey items like pinnipeds.

Groper's picture
Groper's picture
Groper commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:15pm

I am just down the coast and the rock walls are my second home. Slighty confused, protection of GWS plus missing food source could play no role in increased human/dolphin and shark interactions. Bigger Whites target the pelagic species heading South in summer. Mate had a 15kg Cobe scoffed by a 5m White a fortnight ago, full aerial on impact.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:38pm

Why would the juvenile whites come here though if no salmon?

Thats what I'm saying.

No salmon since early 2000's.

Whites first started showing up in 2003 (juv white washed up at Byron).

Incidents and encounters started increasing from there.

You'd expect the whites to be further south preying on the salmon schools.

I know whites will hit pelagics but surely adult whites would prefer seals or other mammals to a tuna or mackerel than can swim twice as fast as them and hasn't got much fat in it.

Groper's picture
Groper's picture
Groper commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 11:49am

Might be as simple as a species recovering and reclaiming a productive patch of the ocean. Note that the Port Stephens juvenile White nursery is also associated with a major coastal upwelling feature.

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher commented Wednesday, 6 Mar 2019 at 11:35pm

Thanx Capt Greenough & crew for safeguarding our wonder downunder...wise words!

Optimist's picture
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Optimist commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 3:34am

George is right as I have noticed a lot more attack marks on my local dolphins as well over the last few years. More of them are showing bits missing off them and scarring to their bodies. They look like they are being preyed upon much more by something.

Kevchecksurf's picture
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Kevchecksurf commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 9:56am

I think there's a lot of hysteria in this article. If you read the details, greenough has never been attacked by a shark. All that has happened is that he has seen sharks on 9 occasions.
The only difference between the sharks and the dolphins in these "encounters" is that he is shit scared of sharks.

That's a fair enough view point, but that in itself doesn't mean that he was ever in any danger. Even the stories when the "dolphins protected him" could just as easily be viewed the other way.
Maybe the shark saw a dirty great mob of filthy dolphins swarming around a beautiful innocent human and raced to the rescue? (Ok that seems ridiculous, but the point is that seeing a shark and being attacked by one is not the same)

The basic premise of the article is the main BS though. He's worried about an increase in big shark numbers affecting dolphins- well relax.

Shark numbers are estimated to be down by 92% over the last 55 years
https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-018-0233-1

Ontheroad's picture
Ontheroad's picture
Ontheroad commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 11:22am

I was surprised that journal article never got any coverage on Swellnet or the other surf sites, being that it is the most credible info we have on the topic, and peer-reviewed in one of the most respected scientific journals in the world...

I had an interesting face to face encounter with a big one in Byron a few months back while spearing, it was clear the shark had no intention of chomping me, just coming round the corner to see what all the fuss was about. It was awesome, and terrifying.

Couple of days ago had 3 dolphins to my left and 3 dolphins to my right swimming along beside me, one of them had a gnarly constrictive scar from what could've only been from a net or rope.

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 9:01pm

But ... but .. it is George Greenough. His anecdotal evidence trumps people who have often over a period longer than him studied sharks and having had to do so by rigorously tested methods and having gone through peer review by other experts.

The bloke made some fascinating and timely films, is knowledgable about equipment, and surfs a lot. His opinion is interesting, but that is all it is.

"Don't try. That's very important: not to try." Charles Bukowski

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 23 Mar 2019 at 4:42pm

The same peer-reviewed experts who recommended protection with no actual baseline for GWS numbers? Farcical.

It's only in the last year we've determined through genetic study (with a large possible deviation) how many there are on the East and West coasts. There was no idea in the 1990s when they were protected. In the face of that, I'll also listen to anecdotal evidence - if you compile enough of it you can derive a picture of an issue, as any decent researcher knows.

Westofthelake's picture
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Westofthelake commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 11:38am

I have seen and continue to see way more dolphins than sharks. I think it's more about the ones you don't see....

Interestingly between 2007 - 2018

21 people died from lightning
22 people died from dog attack
23 from snakes and lizards bites
26 from shark attack
27 from Hornets, bees, and wasps
127 from killer bath tubs
364 from swimming pools
1920 from accidental drownings.

Like shark numbers, it's pretty hard (if not impossible) to get a number on dolphin fatalities caused by sharks.

"So, has there been an increase in the number of White Sharks in Australian waters?

Estimating population numbers in the marine environment is difficult, especially for long-lived migratory species like White Sharks.

However, there is no evidence that White Sharks numbers are on the rise, either in Western Australia or along the Eastern coast. Despite targeted conservation efforts, the available research show stable or slightly declining numbers in these populations."

https://theconversation.com/factfile-the-facts-on-shark-bites-and-shark-...

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 11:53am

the available research shows such large margins of error, particularly
for juv/sub-adult sharks, that in the face of other data - tagging, attack/encounter increases etc etc it's meaningless.

btw, that Nature article references QLD fisheries data from the shark control program. It may, or may not be relevant to the NSW context.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 1:25pm

How the fu(k do people keep thinking humans can manage an marine environmental system or that some ones anecdotal personal experience over a life time some how equates to how a marine environmental system is or is not balanced is beyond me.

The only chance a system has is when humans stop killing it.

shoredump's picture
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shoredump commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 2:26pm

There’s heaps more dolphins than 30 years ago around here, they’ve probably just moved south. I can’t condone killing an animal because it looks sideways at me, wrong motive, and that’s really what this is about. It’s much safer these days to walk the African plains, this is no different a situation. Maybe you shark killers can poach their teeth and make some trophies. So sick hey. Why do we need to be the king of the ocean? With all due respect to Mr Greenough, sadly I feel this misses the mark for what is good and just.

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 2:32pm

Great to read something from George, but sucks to hear about lack of dolphins on far north coast, i use to surf that area a lot and would see dolphins all the time, i remember one surf i was out surfing some shitty small beachies at Suffolk park, no wind glassy and sunny and there was a huge pod of dolphins hanging around me for ages comping up right next to me, was an amazing experience.

The more time goes on the more i think this protecting great whites and other sharks is a problem, and messing up the balance that we had.

ojackojacko's picture
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ojackojacko commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 3:25pm

>>The more time goes on the more i think this protecting great whites and other sharks is a problem, and messing up the balance that we had.

Hi Indo.You could be right. But maybe what we had was an imbalance, and a 'more balanced' ocean might be more dangerous to humans. Problem is we don't really know. Just killing sharks or any other species does not seem like a very informed or sustainable response in the 21st century. Just sitting by and letting humans die is neither desirable nor acceptable. I think this is one reason why this debate rolls on and on - it's not just that sharks immediately grab everyone's attention, but that you have two diametrically opposed sides, both with valid arguments (i.e. sustain the environment and marine ecosystem on one hand, and save human lives on the other), and very few people on either side willing to listen to any opposing arguments. The two positions are not necessarily mutually exclusive - the best and only lasting solution will be somewhere in the middle.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 4:28pm

Thing is this idea of a "balance of nature" is nothing but a human generated fantasy.

There is no balance of nature. Nature is actually in a continuing state of disturbance and fluctuation. This is now widely accepted in ecological science.

Predators can make prey extinct, changes in predator numbers can have profound effects. Not saying that that is the case with white sharks and dolphins but Greenough is at least being far more ecologically accurate to point out the possible effects of increasing white shark numbers in far northern NSW.

As Stevens wrote in 1990: "The real question, ecologists say, is which sort of human interventions should be promoted and which opposed." The "balance of nature" idea, with its implication that the natural world would revert to a peaceful, idyllic state of man simply kept his hands off, does not lend itself to a serious exploration of that question.

Dolphins are intelligent, sentient beings with families and complex social structures.

Greenough is entirely justified morally and scientifically in asking us to consider their plight in a world of increased white shark numbers.

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 5:52pm

Was going to reply too jackojacko above, but you pretty much summed it up..

Especially when we fish some species heavily and protect others, any which way you look at things its not a natural balance.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 7:48pm

Vehemently disagree human population of 7.5 bil, Australia's 25 mil which part of the environment can possibly sustain that or be impacted for the positive?

Name a single fishery in the word that's been successful over 50 years fished by humans lets start with southern blue fin tuna or maybe we could talk about shark populations world wide shark fin soup anyone.

Georges life span is less than a blip in the big picture and balance is not about stagnation.

Watery's picture
Watery's picture
Watery commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 10:45pm

I reckon a little more consideration is worthwhile on this Freeride. I think you are correct in relation to the content of George's article, but not if we look at how it is being used in this discussion.

Certainly George is "justified morally in asking us to consider their plight in a world of increased white shark numbers". He clearly feels he has a relationship with dolphins, so there is no reason why he shouldn't express his concerns for their welfare. However, this becomes a problem when it is put forward as support for culling whites (as some commenters are alluding to). Humans picking winners in an ecosystem based on how easy they are to ascribe human-like attributes to (anthropomorphise), or whether they trigger our fear of becoming prey, does not fit with my personal morals.

George is also justified in asking us to consider the plight of dolphins scientifically. His article is presenting observations which could trigger scientific investigations. However, this is not science (nor does he claim it to be by my reading) - just a hypothesis. The list of potential causes for recent changes in the local dolphin population is huge. Again the issue starts when 9 observations over 14 years start to be spoken of as science, and used to argue that current GWS numbers are excessive.

BTW, I reckon the "balance of nature" argument is a bit of straw man. I haven't picked up anyone here suggesting that nature is static, or that we can go back to a time when humans had no influence on marine ecosystems.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 8:25pm

Actually IFocus, the majority of Australian fisheries are very well managed and sustainably fished.
There's been an estimated 75% reduction in inshore commercial fishing effort in NSW mostly due to licence buybacks , development of recreational fishing areas, instigation of marine parks etc etc with a subsequent bounce back in inshore biomass.

Sustainable Aus fisheries: Aus salmon, aus sardine, albacore, banana prawns, barramundi, blue swimmer crabs, blue grenadier, blue mackerel, blue-eyed trevalla, flathead etc etc

Formerly hunted species like whales and seals are back to the theoretical maximum population sizes or close to it.

This is all part of the scientific literature if you research it.

Don't believe all the BS spread around on Facebook.

It's not all bluefin tuna and shark finning.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 10:25pm

FR appreciate your considered opinion and we are never going to agree..........simply because you are wrong :-)

There is no where in WA I can fish today that is the same as when I was a kid in the 60's, no where, I would suggest it will be the same for you when you get to your 60's unfortunately I wont be around to gloat to say told you so.

Its a simple numbers game the population and rec fishing fleets are exponentially bigger today than 30 years ago throw in better technology every nigger head bottom fish gone management will need to accommodate all those people.

The only increase that I have seen in my life time is seals and ironically whites, although mates who fished professionally back in the day always told me the whites were out deep not inshore.

An example of a fishery well managed is the western rock lobster unfortunately its gone from 5,000 tonnes to 1,800 in just a few years as you wisely pointed out environments are dynamic affected by numerous elements that make up the whole none of which will exist in a fishery management plans based on a couple of decades data mainly relying on look back history.

Note there is less than 2% world wide of marine environment where fishing is prohibited accept it your fu(ked.

Which leads me on to we are really just disagreeing at the margins the end game is climate change and ocean acidification our great grandkids will have a problem and it wont be sharks attacking dolphins.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 7:59am

Yeah down here in Victoria our recreational fishing mostly Whiting, Snapper, flathead & Gummy shark has actually improved in the last 15 years.

I think more to do with banning pretty much all netting in the bays (i think scalloping also stopped in port Phillip bay), protection of sea grass from dredging, fish and bag limits and just a general take only what you can eat attitude.

Maybe it was better 60 years ago?...I wasn't around to know....but I'm happy to say its better now than it was in the 90s.

Not sure if its global warming but we also see a lot more runs of yellow tail king fish again.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 12:40pm

As FR wisely points out restrictions in commercial licences has helped some species recover but never to the same populations previous to serious commercial fishing.

A couple of years ago people were amazed at the SW salmon run and their numbers it was lucky to be a tenth of what I saw as a kid at Eagle Bay where the whole bay was black from salmon schools and the old pro fisherman complaining about the drop off in numbers as they used a tractor to haul in the nets.

bluediamond's picture
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bluediamond commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 9:24pm

I've spent many years coming and going from the Northern Rivers and i've noticed in the last 5-7 years that the water is more often than not dirty and brown along the whole stretch from Yamba to Byron, and then from Brunswick up to Caba. Obviously this is due to the rivers running into the ocean but i never remember it being this bad and lasting this long, even after very low rainfalls. We just had a minor rain event by northern river standards, yet the whole coast is chocolate brown. I've noticed it's pretty rare to see dolphins in these kind of conditions as they prefer clearer water. So just wondering, if perhaps it's just another side effect of human interference to the ecosystem thats affecting dolphin sightings, because when the water is clear, i've noticed alot more dolphins in the area than i did 20 years ago. What with the new highway upgrades, the stripping of land for new residential areas, and of course whatever is going on much further upstream, it seems the northern rivers is starting to resemble the coasts you see near large European cities (supertubes in Portugal) the coast off San Fransisco which is always brown. I'd hazard a guess that dolphins don't like the filthy putrid water that is a direct result of our 'growth'.

Remigogo's picture
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Remigogo commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 9:44pm

Plenty of dolfins around here before margies Pro 2018, and salmon and seals and whales and rotting whales and sea birds and cameramen and strange ocean vibe. Oh and once it was on a mermaid wanting a a kiss from JJF during first round.

No body mentions rarity of mermaid interactions !?!

Remigogo's picture
Remigogo's picture
Remigogo commented Thursday, 7 Mar 2019 at 9:45pm

Or is that just soooo 700 years ago???

STRATTOS28's picture
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STRATTOS28 commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 6:08am

Just need a pod of killer whales, they will sort out the white sharks.

Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 11:33am

Maybe they've just said so long and thanks for all the fish?

surferjoe's picture
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surferjoe commented Friday, 8 Mar 2019 at 4:57pm

Recall surfing Fingal Point, probably 15 years ago, there was a large family of dolphins used to hang out there. That day was out there with Allan Byrne and we were noticing the old bull dolphin who was a mottled grey and white colouring, a big fella, going in and out of the lineup. AB said he was a bit agitated and can get aggressive at times, known to bump surfers.. protecting his family he said. Don't know if there are still the same prolific numbers of dolphins hanging there. Would be interested to find out. Miss you AB.

Big Tones's picture
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Big Tones commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 7:36pm

more dolphins = more sharks
less dolphins = less sharks
Nature balances itself out sharks need prey and if it isn't there their numbers reduce. If sharks really were eating too many dolphins then shark numbers would reduce and then dolphin numbers would rise again and eventually a balance is reached where both populations become stable. That is how nature has been working on its own for billions of years and is also why everything seems to go wrong when humans begin killing off certain species.

Troz's picture
Troz's picture
Troz commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 8:26pm

The Whites are wiping out the loggerhead turtles too, used to see them every week in port mac to coffs area but dont see them at all lately, except for a few half chewed carcasses that were found at Hat Head.

Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive's picture
Nigel Nosedive commented Saturday, 9 Mar 2019 at 10:31pm

Simplistic arguments about over fishing offer nothing- because it's bloody hard to wipe fish out and most will recover given sensible management. Otherwise we would just adapt these approaches to get rid of carp, tilipia and cane toads.

Sharks are more easily fished down but wide ranging species don't need to be totally protected permanently. Most sharks populations would be secure at about 40% of their virgin biomass. So we can harvest some like gummy sharks to eat, or cull a proportion of dangerous ones to save lives, maintain tourism viability, dolphins perhaps.

If the white shark population is still at a fraction of its historic size then multiply out the impacts we are seeing today. Give it twenty years and going for a surf off northern NSW may be seen as silly as wading in the shallows while fishing for Barra up north.

uncle_leroy's picture
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uncle_leroy commented Friday, 22 Mar 2019 at 11:41pm
simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Saturday, 23 Mar 2019 at 7:14am

Well that backs up what shark fisherman Dave woods said when he caught one a similar length off Ballina with a similar amount of 'pups' so if thats a normal' birth rate then it potentially throws a spanner in the works of studies done saying they birth only 1-3 pups .

simba

Rabbits68's picture
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Rabbits68 commented Saturday, 23 Mar 2019 at 11:49am

Some incredible images in that link uncle Leroy. Cheers.

Crystal Clear