An incredible white shark fishing story is the type of story readily re-told, blow-by-blow, repeatedly.
The foreboding. The sudden realisation of what’s taking place. The panicked slicing of strains, scrambling, and yelling. The breach. The shock. The awe.
Not so way back, it could have been an virtually unbelievable rarity to listen to such a narrative at Bowentown – a preferred summer season spot perched on a peninsula alongside the white sand coast from Waihī Beach, on the northern finish of Tauranga Harbour.
But not any extra.
* Great whites wash up close to scene of deadly assault
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* Watch: Great white shark circles fishing boat off Bay of Plenty coast for a ‘good 20 minutes’
* Watch ‘big beast’ of an excellent white shark breach off Bay of Plenty coast
Dave Hope has a fishing story about an excellent white, on the market on the Bowentown Bar in his 12ft tinny.
So does Peter Rogers and his outdated man, Tim. In truth, they’ve two. And Peter’s daughter, Kerry, has her personal story to inform.
“Five years ago, if someone had said there was a great white in the harbour, you would have said ‘nah, that’s rubbish,’” Stu Curd, commodore of the Bowentown Boating and Sport Fishing Club, instructed Stuff this week.
“But now they’re being seen all the time by very reputable fishermen, there’s some really good stories out there about what they’ve seen.”
More than a couple of of those Bowentown nice white shark sightings have ended up on-line and within the media over the previous yr, the place they’ve rapidly gathered right into a string of tales, every new article referencing the others.
It appears to have solely ramped up over summer season.
The near-constant protection has irked some on the town, partly as a result of native shark sightings have taken on a brand new which means because the dying of Kaelah Marlow, a 19-year-old who was swimming off the seashore at Bowentown when she was attacked by what’s considered an excellent white in early January 2021.
“That was devastating for the community and the family,” Curd stated.
This week there have been flowers on the seashore at Bowentown, left there for the one-year anniversary of Kaelah’s dying.
Everyone you communicate to is aware of in regards to the deadly shark assault. It has left a mark on this beachside neighborhood, and is entrance of thoughts presently of yr. Especially when there are common reminders within the type of new sightings.
Curd stated there’s a “helluva concern” that the phrase Bowentown might develop into synonymous with nice white shark.
If that was to occur, it could little doubt scare away some holidaymakers.
“Hopefully it hasn’t reached that point, I don’t know, hopefully it doesn’t.”
The common protection will certainly not be serving to in that regard however, on the identical time, there isn’t a hiding the actual fact there are a number of nice white sharks energetic off the coast of Bowentown.
And, naturally, that does fear some folks.
“There’s obvious concern that someone could well end up getting bitten,” Curd stated.
He believes there are secure locations to swim and play within the water at Bowentown, and locations to keep away from.
“I wouldn’t go biscuiting up the harbour with my kids.”
Curd isn’t alone in speaking – and considering – in regards to the potential danger. A shark scientist, Dr Riley Elliott, visited Bowentown in early December to speak at a public assembly, and the fishing membership was filled with locals.
Elliott was fast to settle the nerves, telling these gathered that “to be honest, I think you can really be at ease with the scenario here”.
“Yes, something tragic happened a year ago,” he stated.
“That was a really rare event where just a few sets of variables that rarely occur, all happened at once.”
Elliott acknowledged the presence of nice whites, also called white sharks.
He instructed the gang he had been out on a ship off Bowentown earlier that very same day, “and in 10 minutes of just fishing, normal snapper fishing, we had a little white shark come up the back of the boat, looked at us, went straight back down, and got on with its day”.
Elliott rapidly put that in perspective for these listening within the clubrooms.
“You can smell the kitchen in there. If you were hungry, and your job was to eat food, you’d probably walk over there and have a look,” he stated.
“The main story that I’m getting from everyone here, all the reports are in a tiny hotspot in the channel, where people are burleying, for snapper, as we do, fishing, and sharks come up and look at them. Sharks come up and steal their fish. Sharks come up and bite the prop. Sharks are just being sharks.”
Elliott stated it was necessary to recognise the context of those shark sightings, and the conditions wherein they happen.
“If you go and overlap with a guy fishing, and he’s got burley out the back, and he’s got panicking fish, and you go for a freestyle through the back of that chum slick, you’re putting yourself in a much more heightened scenario,” he stated.
“The only dangerous situation I really see out here, where something could be mitigated, is when you overlap that food expectation with a shark, and your own activity.”
Elliott stated he was referring to the designated ski lane being in an analogous space to the place folks go fishing and see nice whites.
“Don’t overlap recreation with people fishing.”
Ultimately, he stated he wished folks to depart the assembly feeling comfy about their setting. He stated he didn’t suppose there wanted to be drastic measures of change, simply consciousness.
“I swim with sharks for a living and I can guarantee they don’t eat people on purpose, they don’t bite people on purpose.”
Just a few days earlier than Christmas, the Department of Conservation put out a press release with an analogous message.
Reports of nice whites within the Tauranga space had elevated since May 2020, DOC stated, and 6 particular person sharks had to this point been recognized. An estimate of the entire quantity within the space couldn’t be confirmed.
Marine professional Clinton Duffy stated it was frequent for excellent whites to develop preferences for sure websites and return recurrently.
“Sharks are predatory animals but do not normally perceive humans as prey and most encounters with white sharks do not result in the shark biting the human,” he stated.
Duffy stated folks should be a bit vigilant and conscious of what’s taking place round them, swim the place there are surf lifesaving patrols, and don’t swim or dive alone.
“If you are heading out on the water exercise caution and avoid swimming in the main channels where there are a lot of birds diving, or burleying from kayaks and jet skis when fishing.”
Marine biologist Melissa Kellett stated within the DOC assertion that the big variety of nice white sightings weren’t solely within the Bowentown space of the Tauranga Harbour but in addition alongside the shoreline.
She stated the scale estimates of those sharks had been between 1.5m and three.5m in size, indicating they’re primarily juveniles and sub-adults.
This matches the accounts of Bowentown fishers Stuff spoke to this week.
Dave Hope – a eager fisherman who has lived within the space about 18 years – was fishing on the Bowentown Bar in his 12ft tinny with a good friend late final yr, and was reeling in a fourth trevally, when an excellent white out of the blue got here out of the water and had a go at it.
He estimates the shark was as much as 2.5m lengthy.
The trevally was along side the boat and his mate was about to web it from the entrance.
“And just out of nowhere, eh, just straight up, this shark comes … boof, out of the water, right on the side,” Hope stated.
“It jumped from the back to the front, towards him, along the side of the boat. We just jumped back, bloody yelling, ‘holy s…, what the f… was that!?’ I knew what it was.
“We just got the hell out of there, eh. It rocked our whole boat. If it landed that far over, it would have landed on the side and tipped that boat out, and would’ve tipped us in with it.”
He stated it was “definitely a great white”.
“Never really heard of them around here until the last three years … I’ve been fishing here most of my life and never heard of anyone catching one or seeing one around this area, especially not in the harbour.”
Hope, who additionally surfs at Bowentown, stated “it’s on our minds now, that’s for sure”.
“I don’t feel so vulnerable surfing, but definitely swimming. Like, if I take the kids out to the beach or something, don’t go so deep any more.”
Peter Rogers and his 89-year-old father Tim have fished off Bowentown for many years.
“That’s all we do,” Peter stated with fun.
He stated they’d by no means seen an excellent white shark earlier than, till at some point in December. They had been additionally fishing on the Bowentown Bar on the time.
“We were just waiting for the tide to turn and a 9kg gas cylinder went past us. It was going with the tide first, and then it came flying back against the tide.”
Somehow, the gasoline cylinder had develop into hooked up to a shark, which was now swimming of their path “at pace”.
Tim managed to rapidly get his line in, however Peter’s was caught.
The cylinder began heading across the entrance of the boat, in direction of the anchor. Peter rapidly lower his line.
“And within a few seconds of cutting the line, the great white just breached within two metres of the boat, like straight up and down, fully out of the water, and landed,” he stated.
Peter estimates the shark was about 3.5m lengthy, “no doubt about it”.
“It was a big fish,” he stated.
“It was a great sight. Best sight I’ve seen.”
About per week later, Peter and his dad had been out fishing once more and noticed one other nice white, this one smaller, about 1.5m lengthy. It additionally breached.
Then Peter’s daughter, Kerry Rogers, was out on New Year’s Eve and was reeling in a giant kingfish when it was taken by an excellent white.
She was solely left with the kingy’s head.
“It stole my fish, I was pissed off,” she stated with fun.
The nice white was proper beside the boat, Kerry stated, “I could have just leant down and touched it”.
She stated she might additionally see one other one out a bit additional, away from the boat.
“Usually we’d jump off the boat and have a swim around, I wouldn’t do that any more,” she stated.
“Just because I’ve personally seen it now.”
But Kerry stated they nonetheless swim at Anzac Bay and the seashore and, on the finish of the day, the ocean is the place sharks reside.
“This summer it hasn’t seemed to bother a lot of people, it’s still been so busy.”
Peter agreed. “We’ve just got to live with them, they’re here at the moment.”
There have been “quite regular” shark sightings proper alongside the coast, together with at Bowentown, this summer season, in accordance with Chaz Gibbons-Campbell, surf lifesaving supervisor for the jap area.
These have been basic sightings, not particularly nice whites, and there have been no incidents reported, he stated. The lifeguards all the time take precautions, as is customary apply.
“There’s been a number of occasions where lifeguards have had to close the beach temporarily, but they haven’t seen aggressive sharks or anything like that. Most of the time these guys are just cruising, basking in the shallow waters.
“People have been really good. Every time the lifeguards have gone to close the flags, everybody’s exited the water really calmly, and they’ve listened to the lifeguards’ advice, and they’ve chilled out on the beach for a little while.”
The Bowentown fishing tales involving nice white sharks, as dramatic and memorable as they’re, are definitely not going to cease Maxine Payne from moving into the water.
She has lived within the space for greater than 20 years and was swimming down at Anzac Bay this week when Stuff dropped by.
“At 82, I’m going to enjoy the beach regardless,” she stated.
“You’ve just got to have respect, it’s their habitat.”
Payne stated, in her private opinion, the problem has been overblown, by tales within the media and “all these chat things”.
“They might see one shark when they’re fishing and then everybody looks at it, and they’re scared to go in the water. My opinion is that you’ve got to respect the things that live in the sea because that’s their home, and we’re the intruders, really.
“If I get eaten, I get eaten,” she added with fun.
“It’s a pity if you’re scared to enjoy what you’ve got … you can’t be scared of everything in life can you? Or you wouldn’t live at all.”