Nick Carroll: Great Whites and the New Normal

21 Aug 2019 7 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

COASTALWATCH | NICK CARROLL

Last Saturday night Josh Calderan and his mates James Sarzano and Hayden Wightley headed down to Blacksmith’s Beach for a spot of shark fishing.

They do this occasionally, chuck out lines and sleep overnight while something takes the bait, or not.

This time, nothing happened and they crashed around 3.30am. Then woke to hear a reel singing.

“We’d got bull sharks off there before, but never this,” Josh told CW.

“This” was a late juvenile great white shark nearly three metres in length. It took the fishermen about an hour to get it onto the sand. They finally managed it at about 8.30am Sunday, when the pic above was taken.

“It was pretty cool. Fish of a lifetime, to be honest. We got a pic with it but we were more worried about getting it off the tackle and back in the water again.” The shark was on the beach for maybe eight minutes.

White sharks are protected in Australian waters, which gives a legal weight to catch and release, but Josh says that wasn’t a factor. “I don’t see any point in killing one. We pulled it out of its home and put it back in its home. We thought it was a beautiful fish, we actually said that to each other. Its colours were amazing and it looked really healthy.”

Josh isn’t a surfer, but if you think that doesn’t give him a stake in what’s underwater, you’d be wrong. He and his mates regularly spear-fish off Moon Island outside the Swansea rivermouth. He says he’s talked to rangers who told him a whale washed up on the island recently before being dislodged, and it’d had “about 50” white sharks carrying on around it. “It does make you think about what you’re swimming around with,” he said.

Once upon a time, a story like this would have been terror-splattered across tabloid newspapers from here to Perth. Today? Well, Josh doesn’t seem like the publicity seeking type. But it does seem more like the new normal than a decade ago.

Are people growing used to the idea of us sharing the coast with such animals? Young, strong white shark? Yep, they’re out there. What of it?

Oh and if you’re interested, the boys were baiting up with eel.

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