Experience: Commercial Fisherman, EcoTour Operator
Regions: Otago, Cook Strait, Catlins, Foveaux Strait, Stewart Osland
Interview Location: Karitane, NZ
Interview Date: 03 November 2015
Post Date: 17 May 2017; Copyright © 2017 Allan Anderson and Steve Crawford
5. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - EXPERIENCES OF OTHERS
CRAWFORD: What have you heard from other people about their experiences with White Pointers?
ANDERSON: No, we don’t really talk about White Pointers that much. Oh, you know, there was talk about them at St. Clair beach because of the surfies got bitten there, you know. That guy that lost his life. So we knew St. Clair beach was ... it was a bit of a hotspot for White Pointers. A few have been caught in the nets and things there, and things like that. Lots of sightings.
CRAWFORD: And when you say ‘we heard’, that’s basically as a kid or ...
ANDERSON: As a kid.
CRAWFORD: You heard about that, it was in the news?
CRAWFORD: But it wasn’t something that was like - right off here?
ANDERSON: No. But we sort of knew that it was a bit of a spot. I did hear stories of a White Pointer swimming right up the Karitane River. It went right up half a kilometre up the river or something, and then came back out. But yeah, that was when I was really, really small. And I don’t really remember much about it. But I remember people talking about it, yeah. And it was debatable whether it was a basking shark or a White Pointer, but it was a big shark.
CRAWFORD: Roughly when was that?
ANDERSON: That would have to be in the 60’s.
CRAWFORD: When you were a young kid?
ANDERSON: I only heard stories after it happened, you know? That was old-timers telling me about it.
CRAWFORD: Ok. I see what you mean. That was the old-timers from their generation, telling you about that shark.
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah.
CRAWFORD: Once you were in the fishery, and the old-timers telling their stories and that type of thing, did they have any other stories about White Pointers?
ANDERSON: No. I probably got told stories, but I don’t really recall them, you know?
CRAWFORD: Ok. Getting back to Basking Sharks in the Foveaux Strait ...
ANDERSON: And also right in here. We used to get them a lot here. Right in Warrington Bay. And that brings me to the story of where KZ-7 was supposedly swimming around the place. And at that time, sightings had been of KZ-7 along these beaches. But I also saw Basking Sharks at that same time of the sightings. I kind of thought to myself, because the Basking Sharks would feed right along the beaches, go along the beaches.
CRAWFORD: Parallel to the beach?
CRAWFORD: What kind of depth are we talking?
ANDERSON: Only metres. Sometimes you know only three or four metres of water. Really shallow.
CRAWFORD: Swimming water?
CRAWFORD: KZ-7. When was this roughly?
ANDERSON: I was on the Lady Ann at the time, so it was maybe 1986 or something like that.
CRAWFORD: And from the first time that you heard about KZ-7, until the last time you knew people were saying there’s a White Pointer KZ-7. Was that one season, one year, multiple years? What?
ANDERSON: I think it could have been multiple years. I just can’t recall now. I don’t know whether it was multiple years. But I know at the time I knew people that had spotted it.
CRAWFORD: You knew people who had spotted a Basking Shark or people who had spotted something that was called KZ-7?
ANDERSON: Yeah, they saw something that they called KZ-7, so there was a guy called Warren Lewis ...
CRAWFORD: A commercial fisherman?
ANDERSON: No, he’s an amateur, he’s done a lot of fishing. And, he used to hunt. He liked to catch sharks.
CRAWFORD: A recreational shark fisherman.
ANDERSON: Yeah. And he caught a lot of sharks. He’s a member of the Tautuku Fishing Club and all the rest of it. He might have been president, he’s one of these guys that you know, still to date he’s catching sharks and hanging them up and taking pictures of them, you know?
CRAWFORD: Ok. Warren Lewis, a big shark recreational fisherman. Big like he went after larger Makos?
ANDERSON: He could catch White Pointers, and he would catch them you know? Also loved Makos.
CRAWFORD: Where did he have his boat?
ANDERSON: Port Chalmers. Fished around Taiaroa Heads.
CRAWFORD: Still does or doesn’t?
ANDERSON: Yeah, no. He still does he was out only months ago trying to catch big sharks. And caught a shark, tried to, brought it home, a big Mako. Brought it home, then he had to take it to the dump to get rid of it, things like this you know? And I’m pretty sure he had sightings, personal sightings of KZ-7.
CRAWFORD: And that kind of sighting happened at the same time ...
ANDERSON: That the Basking Sharks were here.
CRAWFORD: That you saw Basking Sharks - plural?
CRAWFORD: And those Basking Sharks that you saw, were clearly Basking Sharks, because you saw the head, the mouth, the fin.
ANDERSON: I got a really good look at them, yeah.
CRAWFORD: As in a couple of metres away or something?
ANDERSON: A couple of metres, yeah. We stopped the boat in front of them, and they came straight for us, and then just sort of ducked under the boat and then came back up the other side.
CRAWFORD: Do you have any indication whatsoever, that Basking Sharks show any interest in boats or humans?
ANDERSON: No, no.
CRAWFORD: They’re just doing their thing?
ANDERSON: Yeah. It’s humans that will go over to get closer to them. This time, we just got where they were, you could see by the two fins, exactly which way they were going. We just got in front of them, and as they saw the boat they quietly went down like that and then up the other side, came back up, and carried on their way. I think we might have put ourselves in that position two or three times, and that happened every time.
CRAWFORD: And for Basking Sharks, is it a mix - sometimes you’ll see them by themselves, and sometimes you’ll see them in groups?
ANDERSON: I’ve seen them more in groups than I have by themselves. I don’t think I can ever remember seeing one by itself ...
CRAWFORD: That’s an important observation, because if people were seeing the same kinds of Basking Sharks in the same kinds of circumstances as you, then they would see multiple sharks. More than one individual.
ANDERSON: Could have done, yeah. There was quite a few Basking Sharks caught around that time as well.
CRAWFORD: Caught by setnetters?
CRAWFORD: Not targeted, they just got tangled?
ANDERSON: Yeah. And when I told you that I was fishing over on the West Coast here, on a boat called the Whitby, we actually caught two of them in our trawls. One on one trawl, and then one on another trawl.
CRAWFORD: You would figure they would know that this big thing's coming and avoid it?
ANDERSON: Yeah. They only just fit in it, in the cod end of the trawl. When you get them on the deck, they’re so heavy and big it’s a real problem to get them off.
CRAWFORD: What are we talking like?
ANDERSON: 25 feet, 30 feet. The first one we got was like, we pulled it right up the ramp onto the boat, and once we had it on the boat we had problems getting it off because we only had a little wire and that.
CRAWFORD: Was it dead or alive?
ANDERSON: Dead. And the second one we caught we knew what to do. We didn't bring it up the ramp. We left it down the ramp, and pulled the string and let it go, you know? But there was also a lot of Basking Sharks getting caught by trawlers in this area here, the Canterbury Bight. And I actually had a relative who was fishing up there, and they actually had an electric chainsaw on the boat - because at times they had to chop these things up to get them off the boat. They couldn’t handle them.
CRAWFORD: These were trawlers?
ANDERSON: Yeah. They would take the fins off the carcass because you could sell the fins. And the liver. They used to take the liver as well. The liver was worth, a thousand dollars for the liver alone. They were worth a couple of thousand.
CRAWFORD: Screwed up the trawl, but you had something to sell for the…
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah. And they had these big electric chainsaws so they could chop them up into pieces big enough to handle.
CRAWFORD: Was that prior to the quota management system?
CRAWFORD: When the quota management system came in, were there provisions for the Basking Sharks?
ANDERSON: I’m not sure. But they kind of disappeared, they don’t come back anymore. You know they were here in the 80s and that. And I haven’t seen a Basking shark for 20 odd years you know?
CRAWFORD: Do you think that there was some cause and effect in there? That it was related to the harvest?
ANDERSON: Don’t know. There was a bit of accidental by-catch, but I don’t think ... unless they were being targeted in other countries or something. But they stopped, like boom, stopped. So never saw another one. Whereas we would get lots of sightings, we would see regular sightings every year. I'd get 10 sightings a year.
CRAWFORD: Up to the middle 80s?
ANDERSON: Yeah, and then it all kind of just stopped.
CRAWFORD: Let's get back to KZ-7. Where was this fish being seen?
ANDERSON: It was all around Otago (Taiaroa] Head. Round this area here.
CRAWFORD: Both sides?
CRAWFORD: And it was surfers and recreational fisherman?
CRAWFORD: Were there any commercial guys that saw this fish?
ANDERSON: Not that I know of. Not that I know of. It was mainly talked from Port Chalmers.
CRAWFORD: Do you know anybody personally, who saw KZ-7?
ANDERSON: I think that guy Warren Lewis saw it. The shark guy.
CRAWFORD: Would Warren Lewis know the difference between a Basking Shark and a White Pointer?
CRAWFORD: Alright so, potentially he would be a very good lead to call up on that one.
ANDERSON: Yeah, he’ll be able to put you onto people who saw it and had encounters with it.
CRAWFORD: Have you seen, or have you heard about White Pointers in other waters around the South or North Island?
ANDERSON: The only place I’ve really heard much about White Pointers is this place, the Chatham Islands. Lots of sightings there from guys I know, fished there and stuff.
CRAWFORD: You spent time up north?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I never saw a shark up there or on the West Coast…
CRAWFORD: Or never heard of one?
CRAWFORD: Other than the Cook Strait or Marlborough Sound area?
ANDERSON: I know they’re up there, but I don't know much about that.
CRAWFORD: How do you know that they’re up there?
ANDERSON: I think I’ve seen pictures of the fisherman on the beaches that have caught them in their nets, and things like that. Old sort of stuff.
CRAWFORD: With regards to other people, especially the old-time fisherman. The guys that were fishing and perhaps were retired by about the time you were coming up through the system. Had they said anything about places and times, patterns that they had recognized for White Pointers? Do you remember anything like that?
CRAWFORD: When you think about other commercial operators, guys who were out there a lot like you, were they telling generally the same kinds of stories in the same kinds of places?
ANDERSON: Yeah, there was another setnet boat that worked out the canyons here, and I’m pretty sure they caught White Pointers, one or two, as well. Fishing that canyon. But there was also, I remember seeing pictures and documentation of ones that were caught inside the Otago Harbour.
CRAWFORD: Ok - just before we go on, who was that other setnetter?
ANDERSON: Mac Chaplin. He had a boat called the Lethal Weapon at the time. I’m pretty sure they’ve caught some.
CRAWFORD: Another longliner gets angled up with a White Pointer?
CRAWFORD: Was that out of Port Chalmers?
ANDERSON: No out of here, Karitane still.
CRAWFORD: Ok, what about those Port Chalmers guys?
ANDERSON: Well, they were old. There are black and white photos I’ve seen somewhere, and they’ve got big skiff rowboats and sails and stuff like that. And they’ve got pictures of big White Pointers, you know?
CRAWFORD: When you think of those guys, these old-timers in Port Chalmers, what names come to mind?
ANDERSON: Probably guys like Ate Heineman.
CRAWFORD: Yeah, I’m working with him.
ANDERSON: And the other guy I told you was Bob Street. He’s a fisheries scientist, but he’s done a lot of diving.
CRAWFORD: And where was he out of?
ANDERSON: Dunedin. He’s Dunedin.
CRAWFORD: But he was an oceanographer or something?
ANDERSON: Yeah. And he’s done a lot of dives. Lots and lots of dives. And I’m pretty sure he was telling me a story, he was diving off Oamaru on a Groper patch, you know? Which is a big patch of fish. A big schooling, a regular place where this fish was schooling. And he told me got in the water one time, the second time he’d dived on the patch and he had to get out of the water because there was a White Pointer.
CRAWFORD: Was it just an observation, or that animal had showed some kind of interest?
ANDERSON: I can’t really remember, but I think he said it swam round him a couple of times.
CRAWFORD: Ok. Let's talk specifically about Otago Harbour. Why do you think the White Pointers were there?
ANDERSON: Oh, I don’t know really. Food. I always think they’re constantly looking for food but, you know, the water might have been a little bit warmer there…
CRAWFORD: Maybe feeding on fish in Otago Harbour?
ANDERSON: There’s a lot of fish in the Otago Harbour. There can be yeah. Summertime there can be a lot of fish in there. Like Barracouta and Mackerel and Kahawai.
CRAWFORD: So, even in terms of fish as prey, there could be plenty of reasons for those sharks to come in? In terms of observations, do you know people who see White sharks without necessarily having them entangled in nets or caught on a hook?
ANDERSON: No. Not really.
CRAWFORD: It’s not like there are a lot of fin sightings.
ANDERSON: I think they’re shy animals. That’s my opinion. I think they’re there but you just don’t see them you know?
CRAWFORD: And when you do see them, it’s only because you are at the surface and they happen to come up to the surface for some reason?
ANDERSON: Yeah. I think they’re there, and I think you know, they could be there more often than we realise. That’s my opinion.
CRAWFORD: And in that case, it’s quite possible that those animals are still going up the harbour, back and forth. Do you know anybody who has had any observations of White Pointers in Otago Harbour?
ANDERSON: Nah. I think I’ve only seen pictures, and I don’t know whether I saw them at the Early Settlers' Museum [Dunedin] or somewhere.
CRAWFORD: But nobody in your knowledge network, there were no stories that other people shared with you?
ANDERSON: I can’t remember names or anything, but I do remember seeing pictures. And I’m not 100% sure where I saw those pictures.
CRAWFORD: That's fine. I'll track them down. Last question about Otago Harbour, so in terms of the two fishing boats ...
CRAWFORD: Where is Otakau?
ANDERSON: Otakau is south of Wellers Rock. So you’ve come to Otakau wharf. The Monarch is there, the tourist launch.
CRAWFORD: Do you know the skipper of the Monarch is?
ANDERSON: No I don’t. But they’re quite new skippers.
CRAWFORD: Has the Monarch only being doing charters for a short while?
ANDERSON: No, it’s being doing this for a long time.
CRAWFORD: Do you know the boats that dock at Otakau?
ANDERSON: Yeah. So, the Triton docks there. And that is Neil McDonald. And the other one is Teone Taiaroa, and the name of his boat is the Vanguard. Both those guys have been fishing a long time.
CRAWFORD: Have you ever seen or heard of sharks in general, White Pointers in particular following fishing boats?
ANDERSON: Yeah there was a guy who fished with ... a local guy who fished with Joe Cave’s son at Stewart Island.
CRAWFORD: Stu Cave.
ANDERSON: Yeah Stu. He mentioned about one shark there. I think they called it Rosy or something like that, or they called it some name because it had a number of hooks and things around his face. It had lots of something to do with hooks, and it was like Jaws. I can’t remember the story exactly, but that fish, he saw it lots of times. It followed his boat, but I have had sharks following me on numerous occasions.
CRAWFORD: You have had?
ANDERSON: Yeah. Definitely following the boat because what we’ll be doing, charter fishing. Taking people out for fishing. And this has happened in years when they were sharky years, you know - when there was a lot around. And you’d fish on a rock and next minute, a big shark would turn up and they’d just sort of start cutting a wee fish off and stuff like that, so we’d move. And we’d move the boat a mile or so, and then you’d fish there for another half an hour and all of a sudden the sharks got you again.
CRAWFORD: And you don’t know what kind of shark at this point?
ANDERSON: No I keep thinking it’s the same shark. You know because we’d move and then another 20 minutes later ... its sort of a pattern like that. And that’s happened quite a few occasions on me. And then the guys like Warren Lewis that used to shark fish, he used to look for us when we were out on the canyons.
CRAWFORD: And he would deliberately fish around you?
ANDERSON: Yeah. One time I saw him, we hadn’t even seen a shark all day, and he just put a rod down like that and boom just like that straight away. Shark you know? So the sharks were obviously, we had them sort of like semi-trained.
CRAWFORD: Right. The sharks were responding.
ANDERSON: They knew that we were a source of food. And they followed the boat, and they recognized the boat.
CRAWFORD: Training usually brings in the issue of memory. Like the idea that the next time they don't even necessarily have to smell the food or see the food, they associate the place or the boat or whatever, right?
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah.
CRAWFORD: Ok, so when you’re a commercial guy operating your boat. Sorry, I should have asked you, do you clean on station or do you clean while you're underway?
CRAWFORD: Both? So, when you clean on station, you see the fish come to where you’re dumping?
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah.
CRAWFORD: And have you heard of any White Pointers doing that?
ANDERSON: I can’t recall people saying they’ve had White Pointers come around the boat, while they’re cleaning. I haven’t really heard.
CRAWFORD: If you had a follower underway, you wouldn’t necessarily see? With the wake and once again it’s got to be relatively calm right?
CRAWFORD: And you’re busy doing other things.
ANDERSON: Yeah, well the Ministry of Fisheries, one time they were trawling and that, and we were hauling in our net, and they did a fly-by with a chopper, you know? And they were looking down on the boat and they could actually see a big something really big behind our trawl.
CRAWFORD: And they radioed to you?
ANDERSON: I think he actually took a picture of it, and told me about it some other time.
CRAWFORD: When was this and who was it?
ANDERSON: He still works for the Ministry of Fisheries at the moment.
ANDERSON: Yeah. Trevor Bills.
CRAWFORD: Where would his office be?
ANDERSON: Dunedin. So, it was him and another guy, two of them on board. And he said to me, "As you lifted the net up, we saw something really big behind it, a big fish, did you see it?" And we were going, "No, we didn’t see anything."
CRAWFORD: This was an MPI chopper?
CRAWFORD: And what maybe 100, 200 feet up?
ANDERSON: Yeah, they took pictures of us.
CRAWFORD: Roughly when was this?
ANDERSON: It was when I had the Tania. So it was, you know, quite a long time ago.
CRAWFORD: Late 80s?
ANDERSON: Yeah. Early 90s.
CRAWFORD: And Trevor is still with MPI now?
ANDERSON: Yeah, he’s still there - so he may recall that story. We still don’t know whether it was a shark, or what it was.
CRAWFORD: It doesn’t matter. It was something big. There are only a few things that get that big. And if they had a picture, they probably know pretty well how big it was.
CRAWFORD: What do you know about White Pointer attacks that have taken place? Where have they taken place? That you know of.
ANDERSON: I only really know of one of them, and that was at St. Clair beach where the surfer was bitten. That’s all I know of I think.
CRAWFORD: In terms of attacks where it wasn’t fatal, have you heard about them?
ANDERSON: No not so much.
CRAWFORD: You’ve mentioned about KZ-7, but did you hear anything about KZ-7 being described as a Level 4 shark?
ANDERSON: No. I haven’t heard of anyone. I don’t know of anything. Although, this is a bit of a weird story I was in Tasmania a couple of months ago and I was out on this crayfishing boat, and we’re driving past this island called Slipper Island or something, I can’t remember the name of it. And the guy on the boat, he goes “Oh, you can smell the Seals” you know? And I go “Yeah, yeah.” Well, I couldn’t actually smell them. But he was going on about how reeky they were. And I said “Do you get White Pointers around here?” And he says “No, we don’t.” The very next day, a diver was taken and eaten, killed by a White Pointer. The very next day, just there.
CRAWFORD: This is Tasmania.
ANDERSON: This is Tasmania, about 2 months ago. They were diving for Scallops on hookah. You know like the breathing apparatus? It has a compressor on the beam of the boat, and so him and his daughter are diving for Scallops and…
CRAWFORD: I read that. Yes, his daughter was there.
ANDERSON: That’s right, this was the very next day after I was there. And what happened was they’re going back up. She went up and got on the boat and thought “He was following me, why hasn’t he come back up?” So, she put her hookah on and he was pinned on the bottom by this White Pointer. And when she got in the water and started swimming down to him, he saw her and decided to come up. And as he came up the White Pointer got him and she witnessed the whole thing.
CRAWFORD: How did you hear that story?
ANDERSON: Well first of all, I heard it on the news.
CRAWFORD: You were still in the country there?
ANDERSON: Yeah. And then I rung up the guy on the boat that was with it, and asked him what happened. And he told me everything. Because he was pretty much in the zone and heard it all on the radio.
CRAWFORD: The victim was trying to get back up to the surface, or was he trying to warn her?
ANDERSON: Trying to get her. Yeah they reckon that was the problem. So he was on the bottom, pinned there waiting for the shark to leave.
CRAWFORD: Did they ever recover him?
ANDERSON: Yeah, they did, after it happened - quite a while.
CRAWFORD: It wasn’t a consumption again?
ANDERSON: No, it consumed some of him. So I think he was … lost a leg I think. And bled out.
CRAWFORD: You said that you dove extensively for Pāua, back in the day?
ANDERSON: Yeah since I was a kid, we used to Pāua dive. Done a lot of diving. We were big divers. Like that was what we did all the time you know? Anytime we weren’t fishing, we were away Pāua diving somewhere. And I’ve dived commercially and casually for Pāuas at Stewart Island. I’ve done a lot of diving around there. Like I said I’ve never seen a shark down there other than the ones in Oban. But I don’t hear of more shark stories from boats down there. I don’t hear crayfisherman saying, “There’s sharks swimming up to my boat all the time.” I don’t hear them, I only hear of the shark cage diving happening pretty much at that same place, there’s some encounters there.
CRAWFORD: Where they’re putting the bait in the water and they're chumming there at that site?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I’ve heard of people that can go to that site and pull up and the sharks come.
CRAWFORD: Regardless of whether the cages are there or not?
CRAWFORD: Alright that’s an important observation. Did you hear that from boaties or from fisherman or …
ANDERSON: No, no - from a commercial fisherman. He’s friends with my son, and them went on a barbecue out of Bluff one day, and he pulled up to that spot where they shark dive, and he says “We’ll show you the White Pointers.” They’re inquisitive and they come to the boat. I said “Have you chummed for them or anything?” And he goes “No, apparently you just drive up there, and stop the boat or leave the motor running, and if they’re there, they’ll come and have a look at you.” That day they waited there for 10 odd minutes, 15 minutes, and none turned up - so they left. But he’s obviously done that other times. Pulled up and showed them… and then they got in the water and dived.
CRAWFORD: For Pāua?
ANDERSON: Yeah, for Pāua and Flounder and other things.
CRAWFORD: In the same place?
ANDERSON: No, no.
ANDERSON: Yeah, so he wasn’t worried about the White Pointers away from there.
CRAWFORD: I think that’s an important observation. When a local person says, “C’mon, let’s go and see the White Pointers.” And they didn’t take any burley, they don’t take any chum. They just go to the place?
ANDERSON: That’s right.
CRAWFORD: I wonder if that would have been a place that you would have taken people to 20 years ago, prior to the cage diving?
ANDERSON: It wouldn’t be. You wouldn’t have even known it. I’ve even dived all those islands, you know? And Bench Island and all round there. Went down there on several dive trips on Deckstar, was the name of the boat, with Ate [Heineman] on those trips. We dived all round there, all round those islands for Crayfish and Pāua. Never any, didn’t even hear anyone discuss the word ‘shark.’
CRAWFORD: That was then, what about now?
ANDERSON: To me it seems like the sharks aren’t all over the Island, but they’re there in specific places. And you know, it’s sometimes like [the shark cage dive operations], it’s a conservation measure, it’s awareness and they’re gathering information you know? From a scientific point of view, what they’re possibly learning or what could be learnt from their activities is probably quite beneficial you know? And they’re only doing it in one spot. And so to me it’s like there’s plenty of coastline, then go dive somewhere else.
CRAWFORD: The question was whether or not the activity at that location, especially if these animals are moving around, whether this changes the animals’ behaviour, when say it goes into Otago Harbour. Maybe now it’s no longer so shy. You know? Now there’s somebody who’s just doing some spearfishing or whatever, right?
ANDERSON: Well, that's I think the question that needs to be answered by talking to lots of fisherman by saying, “Are you seeing?” I think Stewart Island people are saying that they are seeing more encounters now. They’re having more encounters.
CRAWFORD: Right so it’s the frequency. Partly it’s the frequency, but partly it’s the possibility of change in level of intensity for those interactions.
ANDERSON: Well, there seems to be a lot of sharks down there [Stewart Island]. But we’re not seeing them here [Karitane-Otago Peninsula]. We’re not seeing them. We’re out on the water all the time. We’re in the harbours, we’re out here. We’re not seeing any change, we’re not seeing anything different at all. In fact, we’re seeing less. So, whether they swim past here or not. And no one I know up and down this coast is seeing more.
CRAWFORD: Or any different behaviour?
ANDERSON: Or different behaviour. We’re not seeing anything. The only place that there’s even been a change is at that island.
Copyright © 2017 Allan Anderson and Steve Crawford