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SHARK AHOY

“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
Bull sharks off Cleveland Point, Queensland, Australia. Image taken by author.

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.

Bull sharks off Cleveland Point, Queensland, Australia. Image taken by author.

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.

Bull sharks off Cleveland Point, Queensland, Australia. Image taken by the Author.

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.

Four bull sharks were tagged and released in the Richmond River at Ballina on Thursday 23 February 2017.
Article by Alison Paterson , Northern Star newspaper, Lismore, NSW. Australia

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.

For more information you may like to follow up with:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull_shark

and

https://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Fishes/Sharks+and+rays/Bull+Shark#.XVUT8i1L2w6

I thank both organisations and hope this article has been informative.

Live in the moment and stay safe.

Jimmy Bee

Featured

TWO TREES

This short story/history lesson relates to Bruny Island, located off the south eastern coast of Tasmania. This island is now a favourite tourist destination because of its unique natural beauty as well as being known for it’s diverse range of fresh food from both land and sea.

This story is significant, compelling and symbolic.

There is nothing significant about these two gum trees, except they witnessed the arrival of white men on this land. They did not protest but stored what they saw within their wood and it would still remain hidden today except for a painting of the trees made by a white man, one of the first white men to tread this land, the leading artist from H.M.S. Providence under the command of Captain Bligh which anchored off this point in 1792.

I have copied the script accompanying a photograph of the original painting so that it would be easier to read and give some authenticity to my story.

These trees were not standing tall, they were not significant in their beauty. What is significant is the history that these two trees have witnessed in the past, what they have endured through storm and tempest over the years, standing proud on a windswept coast, a witness to a significant period of Tasmania’s history. I thought at the time “if only we could tap this source of knowledge, how richer we would be”. I also found the experience of photographing the above scene profoundly emotional knowing that it had been painted over two hundred years ago and had changed little in that time, almost as if time had stood still.

The above scene is a photograph of the source of fresh water known as the “watering place” marked on the charts of Captain Tobias Furneaux,( Adventure 1773) and again on Captain James Cook’s charts (Resolution, 1777). It was also referred to as Resolution creek and Resolution River at different times.

At the beginning of this post I stated ” The story is significant, compelling and symbolic.” Readers will put their own interpretation on this statement, but to me it is significant, as it was the first time that white man had put foot on this island. The story may not be compelling to all readers but to those with an appetite for history it probably would be. It is a symbol of man’s need to discover new places, new species, in fact, anything new.

This is just another view of the same beach and shows just how clean and clear the water is, much the same as it was all those years ago.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Bruny Island, take it, you won’t regret it.

Jimmy Bee