“But as they say about sharks, it’s not the ones you see that you have to worry about, it’s the ones you don’t see….David Blame
One morning recently, I received a phone call from my friend who said “Jimmy, grab your camera and come over here, I have a school of sharks feeding on bait fish just out the front.
Wow! what a sight, I used to kayak in these waters and never sighted a shark, I sometimes felt a bump on the bottom of my kayak, especially in the canals but nothing more. These were Bull sharks and they were swimming and hunting bait fish in knee high water. I was intrigued to watch how the pups (younger sharks) stayed up one end whilst the larger sharks acted like sheep/cattle dogs and herded the school of bait fish and drove them to the waiting hungry pups. They would then fan out and collect the bait fish that had escaped bringing them back together in a tight school before herding them back in the opposite direction to the waiting pups. This went on for more than an hour.
The Bull shark is not indigenous to Australia as a similar species can be found in Zambia and is known as “The Zambi”, also in Lake Nicaragua where it is known as the “Lake Nicaragua shark” and probably a lot of other places. It is quite unusual in that it has the ability to survive in brackish water and therefore can be found quite away upstream in rivers, e.g. in the United States, they have been known to have travelled up the Mississippi River some 1100 km from the ocean.
This shark is stocky in build and grows to a length of 3.4 m in coastal open water but considerably smaller in rivers and estuaries where they are recorded as growing to 2.25 m depending on sex. They have a bluntly rounded snout and small yellow eyes. Their colour ranges from pale to very dark grey with white underbelly.
The big question is…..Are they man-eaters? Well!….. they are extremely aggressive and can justifiably claim to be the world’s most dangerous shark and probably responsible for more deaths than they are credited for, particularly in shallow warm coastal waters, estuaries and rivers. As you can see in the above photographs, these shark are very close to the shore and in knee high water. The larger sharks would have been at least 2 m long. There appears to be a myth out there that sharks only feed at dawn and dusk. I can tell you that these sharks were filling their bellies around 11.30 in the morning, so I for one wouldn’t like to test that theory. On the positive side, there is a lot of water between sharks, so the chances of being attacked is quite minimal.
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I thank both organisations and hope this article has been informative.
Live in the moment and stay safe.