Experience: Spearfisherman, Scuba Diver
Regions: Fiordland, Stewart Osland
Interview Location: Milford Sound, NZ
Interview Date: 05 February 2016
Post Date: 01 December 2017; Copyright © 2017 Perry Barr and Steve Crawford
5. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - EXPERIENCES OF OTHERS
CRAWFORD: What was the first time you remember hearing from somebody else about White Pointers in the Milford Sound region?
BARR: Probably 10 or 15 years ago, I heard a story of someone going scuba diving in Harrison’s Cove just out here, and they jump in the water, they've got their hands on their mask, and they just took their hands away from their mask, and there’s a White Pointer just sitting there right in front of them, and they go "Holy Shit!’ And they just got straight out of the water, and back into the boat. That’s one story I heard about 10 years ago.
CRAWFORD: Was that a local person that had been doing that, or a visitor?
BARR: I don’t know the details at all for that one. There’s another good story about someone down the coast here somewhere, they were Crayfish diving, and they came across a White Pointer, so he jammed himself up between a crack in the rocks - he fitted in the rock space and he protected himself from it. And the story goes, that the White Pointer went straight up to him and just stayed in front of him and just started to vibrate and shake. And they go, "Gosh, what’s it doing that for?" It's apparently to scare the prey out of there, and then if you’re a Sea Lion or that, you’d be scared, and when you’d come out he’d get you. I don’t know how true that story was, but it’s a good one.
CRAWFORD: When was that encounter, roughly?
BARR: About the same time, about 10 or so years ago.
CRAWFORD: Do you remember who was associated with that?
BARR: No I don’t. It was a long time ago.
CRAWFORD: Any other White Pointer stories that you've heard from your time here in Milford Sound or along this stretch of the Fiordland coastline?
BARR: I heard just up the coast here about a year ago, there was some guys diving just off the Kaipo River mouth, which is just a bit further up the coast. They were scuba diving and then two sharks cruised in and bumped them, and they went "What the hell?" They were after crayfish, and so they had a few on them.
CRAWFORD: How long ago was that?
BARR: About a year ago I think. Yeah.
CRAWFORD: What time of year, roughly?
BARR: It was round about getting towards March/April, right about then.
CRAWFORD: If someone was scuba diving there, would it typically have been morning, mid-day, afternoon, early evening?
BARR: I’m not sure what time of day it was that it happened.
CRAWFORD: They saw two sharks?
BARR: Yeah, two. Jeff is the owner of Milford Helicopters, and all of those helicopter pilots, the two new guys here are going out - Sam and Brayden and Josh - we go out on a little boat, right out to the sound there to do spearfishing, Pāua diving. Sam Innes has got some really good stories about White Pointers at Stewart Island - sightings and stuff like that, so he’d be a really good person to talk to. Sam's here, well he’s just out on his helicopter at the moment. His Dad’s just brought this 9-metre boat in for us to use, so we can go a lot more out there.
CRAWFORD: What’s Sam's Dad’s name?
BARR: Pete Innes - he’s got a house on Stewart Island.
CRAWFORD: And they spend regular time down there?
BARR: Yes, quite a bit of time.
CRAWFORD: Did you ever hear from other people around Stewart Island about White Pointers in that region? Did you hear of anybody else that had seen or had encounters with White Pointers during the time that you were there?
BARR: Not really. We knew that they were around, but it didn’t kind of phase us, because we never saw them. I just heard from Sam that there was a guy in a little boat just parked in one of the little bays right in Oban, just around the south side, a picturesque little bay. There was this little girl on the boat, and a White Pointer came up to the boat and started nibbling on the back of the motor, and then he gazed up, and started nibbling on the back of the transom. Because he’s just dropping his fish carcasses off, and the White Pointer was eating them.
CRAWFORD: When did he say ...
BARR: When did that happen? You’d have to ask him, I don’t know. I think it was just recently. He’ll have a few more stories as well, because he’s done a lot of diving down there. He’s done a lot of Cray dives, spearfishing, Pāua diving
Copyright © 2017 Perry Barr and Steve Crawford