My Encounter with a Pointer
By Guy Davies
Of all the predatory creatures of the sea & land it seems that the great white Shark would hold the greatest fascination for mankind. I guess that a lot of this curiosity stems from the fact that not a lot is really known about this creature, though it seems with the incredible recent advances in technology, the animal worlds secrets are being revealed more & more.
Like most experienced spearo’s I have had many shark encounters, a few exciting ones, though nothing that really “awed” me. We all know that the big Pointers are out there, myself especially, as two months prior, club member “Gavin Duncan” whilst just off the Perth Coast on air chasing cray’s had an encounter with a 5 metre White, “complete with bad attitude”. Luckily Gav had his big ol Paxman gun with him, after about eight minutes of stuffing his gun into its snout he made it to the boat. Gav’s a little on the tubby side he would have made a great meal!
I have done a lot of paddling on my own in fairly deep murky water letting out burley, whilst realising that these seem the ideal conditions to bump into a large nasty shark “for me it just hasn’t happened”. Deep down, I think, like most divers, I never really expected to bump into a great White “that happens to other people”. I do have a great interest in others stories & writings re; they’re encounters with these fish, I have come to the conclusion that bumping into a White does not have to be as gloomy as we have been led to believe.
On the 12th Sept 05, I was diving on & around Linda reef which is about 5 km’s offshore & 50 km’s north of Perth, the water was fairly dirty, though in the shallower areas the vis was ok. I was paddling on the surface in only 10 metres when I noticed to my right front sitting side on in about eight metres was a large shark, within about two seconds I realised that it was a White Pointer of at least four metres with a large girth. The decision not to dive toward him with the intent to intimidate was easily made, I could just tell that that was not going to work. Best keep some distance, let him make the first move.
To me it seems that he had positioned himself perfectly in front of me to see what my reaction would be once spotted, I guess that a seal would have taken off & away to the left, in which case this shark could not have been better positioned to give his tail a flick. My guess is that he had noticed me a long time before, didn’t know what to make of me, & so wanted to see my reaction.
The shark then swam across my front, did a complete right turn then came right up to me from slightly below. With spear in, my homemade Paxman type gun, length being 7ft, I wanted to make sure that the tip was nicely placed onto his snout so to give a good buffer zone in case he started snapping. The spear tip landed exactly where I wanted it to, without flinching, he pushed me back a little, then turned off to his right.
The boat that I had come off was about 300 metres away & up current, there was another boat only about 100 metres, this thought was rather fortunate. I could feel my heart rate going up, I made an effort to slow it down, keep my cool, like a dog, a shark will easily pick up fear. He then came in again, once more I managed to place the spear onto his snout giving me another small push, then away to his left swimming around me in anti clockwise circles. With gun between my legs I back peddled towards the closer boat.
I do feel very privileged to have had this encounter with this half ton of reputation, only a tiny percentage of divers would have ever encountered a White in open water. In my favour, the shark was not in “agro” mode (pectorals down/arching back) was in shallow reasonably clear water, & a boat wasn’t to far away. I wouldn’t want to be with an aggressive White in earlier mentioned conditions. I believe that if they want to take you out, they will easily without you even seeing them. If they let you see them, you have a solid gun, keep cool, you should be ok.
Though the White does seem to invoke some sort of fear in divers, from what I have heard from several seasoned spearo’s there’s one fish that they defiantly wish not to encounter. That’s the “Mako” or “Blue Pointer” it has a smaller brain than the White, (less reasoning, more aggression) thankfully they prefer deeper waters, Ill be happy never to meet one.
As mentioned, an encounter with Whites is rare, I felt it was worthwhile putting my experience & thoughts in writing, they are a magnificent fish, I guess the more we understand them the more we will appreciate them.