Barry Bethune

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YOB: 1940
Experience: Commercial Fisherman, Recreational Fisherman
Regions: Catlins
Interview Location: Kaka Point, NZ
Interview Date: 17 February 2016
Post Date: 11 November 2017; Copyright © 2017 Barry Bethune and Steve Crawford

1. EXPERIENCE IN AOTEAROA/NZ COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS

CRAWFORD: Where and when were you born, Barry? 

BETHUNE: Kaitangata, 1940. 

CRAWFORD: What age do you recall first spending significant amount of time around New Zealand coastal waters? 

BETHUNE: From the age I could walk, virtually. My father was a very keen fisherman. 

CRAWFORD: In the recreational fishery or commercial fishery? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, recreational. 

CRAWFORD: What type of fish would he typically go after? 

BETHUNE: I started as a kid, trout fishing with Dad. Once I got a bit older - I’d say, 8 or 9, he started taking me rock hopping down around the Long Point area. 

CRAWFORD: What is 'rock hopping'? 

BETHUNE: Fishing off the rocks. I remember the first time he took me down to Long Point, that was a very scary experience. [laughs] When you get down, you're only standing on a ledge, not much bigger than this table. 

CRAWFORD: And you were casting out from that?

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: You were 8 or 9 years old, but he was with you? This is adult supervision? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Other than Long Point, were there other places that you spent time around New Zealand coastal waters?

BETHUNE: We had what’s called the flat rock, it was Cosgrove Island - we used to catch a lot of Groper there. And Crayfish and that sort of thing, on the south side of Long Point. 

CRAWFORD: Other than fishing as a kid, back in the adult supervision days, did you spend any significant amount of time swimming or other things like that? 

BETHUNE: Not a great swimmer. But I spent a lot of time on the water though, especially Whitebaiting.

CRAWFORD: That would have been in the estuaries and rivers?

BETHUNE: Yeah. In the Clutha River.

CRAWFORD: When you were a kid, did you and the old man spend time out in boats as well? 

BETHUNE: No. Nobody had boats in those days. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Roughly what age was it when you were a little bit more independent - access to a car, that type of thing?

BETHUNE: When I got my first car at 15. 

CRAWFORD: Did that change the types of coastal activities, or where you could go with that car? 

BETHUNE: No, I kept going back to the same spots. I’d take me mates, and we’d go fishing. 

CRAWFORD: Rock hopping still? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: How old were you when you got your first boat? 

BETHUNE: Well, my brother got the first one actually. And we both started going down to Tautuku then, and fishing off the beach there. 

CRAWFORD: How old were you? 

BETHUNE: Would have only been 17 or 18. 

CRAWFORD: Once you got the boat, what was the split of your on-water activities? Mostly fishing? 

BETHUNE: Oh, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: Or were you doing other things with the boat as well?

BETHUNE: We used it for Whitebaiting and Duck shooting, same boat. But most weekends over the summer period we were at Tautuku. Rain, shine, or hail.

CRAWFORD: Were you also working at that point?

BETHUNE: I was still living in at Kaitangata at this stage, and working at the local freezing works. 

CRAWFORD: This was as a teenager? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: When you said you were fishing 'most weekends,' obviously you job was a factor in that. Was there a seasonality to your fishing? Was it mostly during the summer, or during the winter as well? 

BETHUNE: No, we fished through the winter as well. 

CRAWFORD: When you were fishing with the boat, what were your target species? 

BETHUNE: Groper mainly, and Blue Cod. 

CRAWFORD: And roughly what was the length of that boat? 

BETHUNE: It was only a 12-foot plywood dinghy.

CRAWFORD: Is that the same as a 'clinker dinghy'? 

BETHUNE: No, no. But I finished up with a clinker. 

CRAWFORD: What was the next change in your history on or around coastal waters?

BETHUNE: Well, the freezing works was only a seasonal job. I got quite a few off-season jobs. I worked out in a coal mine, railway, various off-season things. And every chance I got, I went fishing. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. What was the next big thing that changed? Did you buy a bigger boat?

BETHUNE: Yeah, I went to an 18-foot clinker dinghy then. Still amateur fishing. 

CRAWFORD: How old were you then? 

BETHUNE: Let's see ... around 21. Just married, I think. 

CRAWFORD: And when you were fishing off the dinghies, was this handlining or were you rod and reel fishing ...

BETHUNE: Rod and reel, and danlines for Groper.

CRAWFORD: Vertical set lines? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, a dozen or so hooks on a danline.

CRAWFORD: Specifically targeting Groper?

BETHUNE: Yes.

CRAWFORD: What region where you setting those danlines?

BETHUNE: Tautuku - all the time. 

CRAWFORD: Ok - what was the next thing that changed? 

BETHUNE: Well, at the time when we were at Tautuku, there was a guy bought a launch down in Dunedin, he was going to catch every fish in the sea. And it sank at the moorings, this particular night. He’d never done anything about it, he bailed it out, and I actually towed it up to Tautuku River with my boat, out of danger. And it lay there for several months. And my mate and I decided that we’d buy it and go commercial fishing. And right through the stages of getting Cray licenses. That particular off-season, he got pranged up in the coal mine. Got hurt. Sort of all fell by the way-side. And we finished up selling that boat without even catching commercial fish on it. 

CRAWFORD: But a fair chunk of your time went into salvaging and then restoring that vessel. 

BETHUNE: We sold it, and I went to the freezing works the following summer and worked there for about 15 years or what. 

CRAWFORD: All that time you were still doing the same kind of fishing as you had done before? 

BETHUNE: Much to the Wife’s disgust, we were at Tautuku.

CRAWFORD: Rod and reel, danlines, same gear?

BETHUNE: Over and over again. 

CRAWFORD: Aside from the commercial fishing false start, what was the age at which you first started commercial fishing? 

BETHUNE: It was 1971.

CRAWFORD: You were in your early thirties. What type of vessel did you operate? 

BETHUNE: I was at the freezing works, and the stinking hot weather like we’re getting now, and fishing in the bay. At that stage, there were six commercial boats on the beach down here, at the Nuggets. And this particular day, through the grapevine I heard that one of the crew had given up on one of the boats down here. I knew there was no money in it, but the next Cray season was only two or three months away. "Stuff it, I’ll take the bull by the horns." I came down and got myself a job, and I started on the boat the next day. 

CRAWFORD: You were crewing?

BETHUNE: I had to crew for a couple of years to get me sea-time up. 

CRAWFORD: What size of vessel were you crewing on? 

BETHUNE: That was a 28-foot fibreglass. 

CRAWFORD: Was it a Crayfishing boat or Cray-Cod operation? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, it was Crayfishing and trawling. 

CRAWFORD: Craypots and also rigged with trawling gear - did you put that trawling gear on and off as needed? 

BETHUNE: No, no, we carried it all the time. 

CRAWFORD: Where did you ship out from? What was your port? 

BETHUNE: The fishing camp down here, which is ... there’s the Nuggets, so the fishing camp is sitting in the back there. Just next to the Nuggets on the north side. 

CRAWFORD: I think I’ve seen pictures in the photo album over there at the restaurant.

BETHUNE: There’s a photo of me and me boat, over there in the back. 

CRAWFORD: So, this was a beach launch? Is that the same place? 

BETHUNE: That's the one, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: What regions along this coastline were you fishing at that time? 

BETHUNE: 90% of our fishing was done on the Molyneux Bay here. Trawling, Crayfishing. 

CRAWFORD: So, the majority of your time was from the Nuggets, north? Whereabouts in the bay would you be doing your trawling? 

BETHUNE: Oh, we were limited how deep we could go, because our winches didn’t carry enough rope. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly how deep could you go? 

BETHUNE: About 28 fathoms was our max. Out to the shipping lane off the end of the Nuggets. And we only went up as far as about Akatore, and out here to the 12-mile limit. 

CRAWFORD: When you’re trawling, I know you got a lot of different things, but principally what were you looking for? 

BETHUNE: Flatfish.

CRAWFORD: Was there a seasonality to the fishing? 

BETHUNE: Oh, absolutely. This time of year [summer] was the main trawling season.

CRAWFORD: You’d be out pretty much every day the weather would permit? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: When in the year would the trawling start?

BETHUNE: Well, we never really bothered with it, because we were Crayfishing right through till Christmas time - and even after. In those days, it was two seasons. We were allowed to concession fish up here in the Wangaloa area - Nugget point was the cut-off area. You went south of Nugget Point, you had to catch bigger fish. So, we virtually had two Cray seasons. We could have pots south of Nugget Point up to Christmas. Or after the end of our Cray season, which is middle of December. The concession fish dropped off, then we can go south. But by that time, we’d started trawling too, so we didn’t have pots down there. We’d only do them about twice a week sort of thing and do our trawling up in the Molyneux Bay.

CRAWFORD: When you say 'down there,' how far down past the Nuggets were you? 

BETHUNE: Oh, we only went down as far as False Island. 

CRAWFORD: How many years did you fish that cycle - when you were crewing on the boat?

BETHUNE: I crewed for 2 years

CRAWFORD: Then you got your skipper's ticket? 

BETHUNE: Yep, yep. 

CRAWFORD: Were you skippering on someone else’s boat first, or did you ...

BETHUNE: Oh, it was a company boat. I moved away from the Dutchman and his 28-foot fibreglass. And it was a 25-foot wooden boat that came up. It belonged to National Mortgage. 

CRAWFORD: So, you went from crewing on a 28-foot fibreglass, to being skipper on a 25-foot wooden vessel. Roughly, what was the speed on these boats?

BETHUNE: Oh, six or seven knots. 

CRAWFORD: In terms of the fishing pattern when you started skippering off the 25-footer, was it basically the same gear, the same regions?

BETHUNE: Exactly the same.

CRAWFORD: And that pattern of gear and location, that would have extended through until what year? What was the next major change in your fishing? 

BETHUNE: Next major change ... I skippered the company boat for about two years. They gave it a major refit, and they offered it to me for ridiculous money - something like $5000.

CRAWFORD: Ridiculously expensive or ridiculously cheap? 

BETHUNE: Cheap. I started fishing, and I fished right through ... I changed companies, and I finished up me final years, I was fishing for Skeggs.

CRAWFORD: Fishing for what? 

BETHUNE: Fishing in to Skeggs.

CRAWFORD: What does that mean? 

BETHUNE: Oh, they were a major fishing company. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. All of the way through this time, your partnerships and your contracts changed - but your vessel pretty much stayed the same?

BETHUNE: Stayed exactly the same. 

CRAWFORD: And your fishing pattern pretty much stayed the same as well? When you were doing the split Cray/trawling operation, roughly what was the split between the two of those activities? Was it 50/50 throughout the course of the year? 

BETHUNE: No. Crayfishing was our main living, there’s no two ways about that. But you know, the trawling was virtually only a fill-in in the summer time. But we made our money out of Crays. 

CRAWFORD: So, maybe 80/20?

BETHUNE: Yeah, I’d say it would be yeah. It did finish up ... the later stages, it would be 50/50, when Cray fishing became harder. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly when did that happen? When did Crayfishing start to get hard? 

BETHUNE: Oh, the years escape me. The last seven or eight years I was Crayfishing, it was becoming hard. Just prior to the quota system. 

CRAWFORD: We’re talking early 80’s? When did you stop fishing? 

BETHUNE: 1971, I think.

CRAWFORD:  And that was during the decline in Crayfishing? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. I just missed a boom in the Crayfishing, before when I started. But the year I started as a deckhand, we had a very poor Cray season, and then the following year they fished up again. They do fluctuate. 

CRAWFORD: But at the end ...

BETHUNE: At the end, we had to work more pots, longer hours. And more competition. That might have been '73 I took over my own boat. Yeah, it’d be thereabout. 

CRAWFORD: 1973 until ... when was your last year fishing? 

BETHUNE: I took an early retirement, I think I was 58 when I retired. 

CRAWFORD: 58 - you were born in 40, so that’s to 1998. That was your commercial fishing - almost 30 years?

BETHUNE: Yeah, that’d be right. 

CRAWFORD: And in that 30 years, you were very consistent in terms of geography and gear.

BETHUNE: The only thing that changed in terms of gear ... No, when we first started, we didn’t even have a radio, you know? An old black and white sounder - that was our lot. And a compass. But when we finished it was 'right as' and bloody coloured sounders ... 

CRAWFORD: GPS and all that?

BETHUNE: No, we never got that.

CRAWFORD: No, I guess that was too early for GPS, you wouldn’t have had that. 

BETHUNE: No, they were really early on when I retired. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. 1998, you transition from commercial fishing, you retire. What was the next significant amount of time you were spending on the water? Did you come off the water for a while, or did you go right back into recreational fishing? 

BETHUNE: I never stopped. I was back into recreational. 

CRAWFORD: What kind of vessel were you fishing? 

BETHUNE: When I went back into it for a start, just a 12-foot aluminum dinghy again. Just working back in the breakers here. The one I’ve got now is only a 4.3 metre aluminum pontoon.

CRAWFORD: From the time that went back into recreational fishing, roughly what region were you fishing in these boats? 

BETHUNE: [laughs]. Do I have to tell you that? 

CRAWFORD: Roughly, please. Not specific sites. 

BETHUNE: The same area. But I don’t go to Wangaloa, because the boat's too small. I don’t go through Molyneux Bay. 

CRAWFORD: South of the Nuggets - do you do any fishing there?

BETHUNE: Yeah, yeah. I've got a lot of my fishing done south of the Nuggets. 

CRAWFORD: How far down, roughly? 

BETHUNE: False Islet, max. 

CRAWFORD: That’s an all-day trip, then? 

BETHUNE: Yep. 

CRAWFORD: When you’re fishing now, roughly what kind of water depth range might you be fishing?

BETHUNE: Oh, I don’t go much deeper than about 15 fathoms. 

CRAWFORD: And your seasonality now? 

BETHUNE: Just the same. Blue Cod, whenever I can get off. I find having an aluminum boat in the winter time is too bloody cold to work on. So just summer time now. 

CRAWFORD: If you had to guess, through your retirement period, how many days per week in the summer would you be out? 

BETHUNE: I find its embarrassing the fish you catch. There’s no way we can eat them, so on you go when we’re low on fish. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. How frequently would that be? 

BETHUNE: Once a month max - unless there is a fishing competition on. 

CRAWFORD: Was that fairly consistent, from the late 90s to now?

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: So, you might go once a month - and it's mainly for food?

BETHUNE: Yeah, only for food. Unless there’s a fishing competition. Like last weekend, I was out two days in a row because of competition. 

CRAWFORD: How many competitions would there be in any given year? 

BETHUNE: About four. 


2. EXPOSURE TO MĀORI/LOCAL/SCIENCE KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS

CRAWFORD: In terms of Māori culture and knowledge, how much would it have contributed to your knowledge of the sea and the marine ecosystem? 

BETHUNE: In this area, I would put it at low. 

CRAWFORD: And what about the contribution of science knowledge to your understanding? 

BETHUNE: Quite high. High. 

CRAWFORD: Why would you rank it as high? 

BETHUNE: It had a lot to do with Bob Street. And he used to have his mate in those days, he was a joker named Corbett. He used to dive with Bob, doing their Crayfish surveys and whatever. Had a lot to do with DOC and the marine reserves. And some others in the early days, a few of the different ones.

CRAWFORD: So, part of your science knowledge because of individuals, and partly because of liaison with management agencies and stuff like that.

BETHUNE: Yeah.


3. WHITE POINTER DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

CRAWFORD: Do you remember the old-timers saying that there were particular regions around here where the White Pointers were aggregated? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: What regions were those? 

BETHUNE: Around the Seal colonies. 

CRAWFORD: And where were the Seal colonies in this region? 

BETHUNE: Well, they weren’t that big in those days because the simple fact that Christmas-time, when the fishing companies were closed, they used to paint their boats, whatever, and just goof around at Christmas time. And they would have a couple days out to sea with their rifles, and they’d shoot the Seals. 

CRAWFORD: Why were they shooting Seals? 

BETHUNE: Because they’re a bloody menace. [laughs]. To the fisheries. 

CRAWFORD: In the sense that they were taking fish off their lines? 

BETHUNE: No, no. 

CRAWFORD: Or they were just taking fish? 

BETHUNE: Bleeding the stocks, yeah. They reckoned. 

CRAWFORD: And it was common back then for fishermen to shoot Seals?

BETHUNE: Oh yeah, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: Even back then, where were the aggregations of Seals along this coast line? 

BETHUNE: They were fairly spread out. Because I think when they’re getting picked on with the rifles and that, they were right up ... well, they are again now, they’ve gotten really thick - now they've even taken over the Clutha River, believe it or not. Right up, above Balclutha

CRAWFORD: What about along the Catlins?

BETHUNE: They were virtually on every rock. Well, every headland you could climb down to go fishing off, there were seals on them. 

CRAWFORD: were there particular places where the White Pointers were known to hang out more than others? 

BETHUNE: Long Point, Cosgrove Island, Tautuku. 

CRAWFORD: Did people reckon that it was because of the Seals that they were hanging out at those points?

BETHUNE: No, didn’t seem to be any reason for it then. It was just ... oh, I think the reason why they were seen there was because they were accessible points where you could go rock fishing. 

CRAWFORD: So, pairs of eyes actually being on or around the water? Whereas, if there was another headland that wasn’t accessible, you wouldn’t know - because nobody goes there?

BETHUNE: That’s dead right. 

CRAWFORD: Was there ever a sense along this stretch - the Catlins and a little bit further north, the Nuggets - was there ever a sense that White Pointers needed to be killed on principle? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. Definitely. 

CRAWFORD: What was behind that? 

BETHUNE: Oh, I don’t know. Just because they were feared, I would suppose. And there had been those attacks in Dunedin

CRAWFORD: Ok. In terms of killing them, setnets are one thing. You had mentioned that back in the day, people had taken shots at the Seals. Was there any kind of history, that you remember ever being told about, people that would be shooting at the White Pointers? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, I think I have heard of it. But it wasn’t really a done thing. There weren't a lot of boats that actually carried a rifle. And there were no runabouts in those days, either. You only had the commercial fishing. 

CRAWFORD: Was there anything else - like barrels with baited hooks that people put out there?

BETHUNE: No, the only time we ever heard of that was in the Chathams. It was done on a regular basis there. 

CRAWFORD: Was that before your day, or during your day? 

BETHUNE: No, it was just when Crayfishing, I presume. 

CRAWFORD: Would it be fair to say that the Chathams had a reputation for being 'sharky'? 

BETHUNE: Oh, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: Why did the fishermen reckon that the Chatham Islands was such an aggregation for White Pointers? 

BETHUNE: What happened over there ... when the Crayfish boom started over there, they took the motherships over there to process the Crayfish, and the bodies were going back over the side. And it was some really big sharks, I’ve seen photos of them when I’ve been over that. Big animals, that were caught round the operations.

CRAWFORD: Once again, in response to fish parts coming off those boats. Why the Chatham Islands? Why did people reckon there were so many there? 

BETHUNE: I don’t know. Well, it’s a very healthy fishery, of course. But I think there was a whaling station over there too. There was. 

CRAWFORD: Yeah, but that would have been decades ago - at least. 

BETHUNE: But you know, it always seemed as though they had a pattern - to come back to the whaling stations, every year. 

CRAWFORD: Speaking of patterns, were there any patterns that the old-timers or your contemporaries ever talked about - along the Catlins and along the Nuggets? Like, where the animals were coming from or where they were going to? 

BETHUNE: No. Just 'a shark's a shark' in those days. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. So, the Chathams were known to be 'sharky.' Maybe a couple of spots along the Catlins were known to be 'sharky' as well. Like the Nuggets, Long Point and Tautuku?

BETHUNE: Yeah. The headlands, mainly. 

CRAWFORD: When you think about other regions in New Zealand coastal waters that were known to be 'sharky' - especially for White Pointers - what other regions were there? 

BETHUNE: Taiaroa Heads.

CRAWFORD: Yeah? What did you hear about it? 

BETHUNE: Well, we had three fatalities actually. Two at St. Clair beach, and another one taken at the mouth of the Otago Harbour, the Mole.

CRAWFORD: At Aramoana.

BETHUNE: Yeah. Only about five years between them, thereabouts. 

CRAWFORD: What did you hear about those attacks? 

BETHUNE: Just that it was on dusk, the first one anyhow at St. Clair. And the one at the Mole too, I think was late afternoon. 

CRAWFORD: Was there any discussion about the importance of whether it was dawn of dusk? Relative to the risk of being attacked? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. Dusk, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Prior to those attacks, was there the same type of knowledge along this stretch of coastline - that you’ve got to be careful when you’re out on the water, swimming, either on or in the water early in the morning or late at night? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. Oh, we were always told as kids "Don’t go in the water in the late evening when you were swimming."

CRAWFORD: Specifically, because of the sharks? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Regarding the Otago Peninsula, what did you hear about the attacks at St. Clair and St. Kilda

BETHUNE: They blamed it on the sewage outflow.

CRAWFORD: Really? People up there blamed it on the sewage, or people down here? 

BETHUNE: Oh well, everybody did, right? Because it was raw sewage out to sea in those days. 

CRAWFORD: Yeah, just up from Tomahawk. And people generally reckoned that the White Pointer that was responsible for the attack was somehow responding to the sewage? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, that was the general theory. Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did anybody that you ever heard of, did they ever see White Pointers at the sewage outflow? 

BETHUNE: Can’t answer that one. But it went well out to sea too before it discharged. So you know, it wouldn’t be seen around the beach as such. 

CRAWFORD: What do you remember hearing about the attacks? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, just the fact that it had happened. 

CRAWFORD: Do you remember if they were swimming, surfing? 

BETHUNE: Just the early days of surfing, I think from my memory. 

CRAWFORD: what about Aramoana? Did you hear anything about that attack? 

BETHUNE: They were just spearfishing, snorkeling.

CRAWFORD: Did you ever speak to people from there who saw? 

BETHUNE: No. 

CRAWFORD: So, this is through word of mouth - as knowledge gets shared down the coastline, right? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Taiaroa Heads. Did you ever hear about White Pointers aggregating off the tip of the Otago Peninsula? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did you ever hear the old-timers or anyone else suggest why it is that there would be a congregation there? 

BETHUNE: Seals. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Did you ever hear about White Pointers that would take up residency, and be seen over the course of the season or over the course of the year? 

BETHUNE: I heard that, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did you hear anything in particular? 

BETHUNE: No, not really. See the fisheries change too. The days when they were seen on a regular basis is when the boats were linefishing. 

CRAWFORD: You mean setlines or longlines or handlines? 

BETHUNE: Handline. You know, you’re going for the same Groper mark sort of thing, on a regular basis. And you'd start fishing, and they would turn up. You know, the fishing of the old-timers was all handlining, even for Blue Cod. 

CRAWFORD: What are the major differences between a fishery back in the day, and a fishery now? 

BETHUNE: One particular spot was getting fished time and time again, with handlines. Whereas now you've got bloody Blue Cod caught in pots - that sort of thing, you know. You’re not going back to the same spot all the time. 

CRAWFORD: Is that the same here at the Catlins, but also at the Otago Peninsula? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Do you reckon that the White Pointers were responding back in the day, because people were handlining in particular areas? And then the animals ...

BETHUNE: Well, it's just like feeding them - isn't it. You know, you start feeding them in a particular spot on a regular basis - any sort of fish will turn up. 

CRAWFORD: Do you figure that these White Pointers, that they would associate with being fed, either because there were fish being cleaned, or even just the burley - that they would associate the place?

BETHUNE: Yeah, definitely. 

CRAWFORD: What you talked about ... well, it’s a little bit different on those ledges, because as you pointed out, it wasn’t as though people were shore fishing all the way along. There were only a few spots that they had access to. So, you couldn’t compare it to people that were spending a significant amount of time further up the coast a bit where there was no Groper fishery. 

BETHUNE: That’s right. 

CRAWFORD: in terms of New Zealand coastal waters, big scale, North and South Island. When you think of what you’ve heard about aggregations of White Pointers overall, what areas do you think of as being abundant? 

BETHUNE: Stewart Island

CRAWFORD: What have you heard about White Pointer aggregations at Stewart Island? I’m interested in back in the day, what the old-timers thought, what the local people thought and saw. 

BETHUNE: Once again, the whaling stations down there - they had their share of them. And they seemed to turn up on a regular basis, every year same time. 

CRAWFORD: What’s with that?

BETHUNE: Well, personally I’d put it down to the fact that there were those whaling stations there. You know, they’re old animals - and they seem to have set patterns. 

CRAWFORD: Did anybody ever talk about the broader scale migrations of these White Pointers? 

BETHUNE: No, that was unheard of in those days. Just the fact that they turned up on a regular basis, around about the same time. 

CRAWFORD: People not really sure where they are when they’re not here - but there was definitely a seasonality?

BETHUNE: Oh, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: Was there ever any type of pattern, in terms or either the size of the animals or you know, what they look like? 

BETHUNE: Mainly big ones. I don’t think you saw the very little small ones. 

CRAWFORD: Mainly big ones where, along the Catlins? But you never saw any of the small White Pointers?

BETHUNE: Yeah. You know what, I’ve never caught a juvenile one, never. 

CRAWFORD: From anybody else that’ve you’ve ever heard from, would the Stewart Island aggregations be more dense than the Catlins - or are they pretty much the same? 

BETHUNE: I think that Stewart Island is more dense. 

CRAWFORD: And in terms of Stewart Island and the Chathams, are they about the same or different? 

BETHUNE: I’d say they’d be on par, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: [Discussion about project classification levels for human encounters with White Pointers: Level 1-Observation, Level 2-Swim-By, Level 3-Interest, Level 4-Intense] In terms of attacks, Level 4 encounters. There’s the one account that you said, at Long Point where the woman was taken, body not recovered. And that’s going to be in the papers? 

BETHUNE: Oh yeah, for sure. I can still see it in the local Clutha Leader. I can visualize it and the write up. Clutha Leader. But it would be in the Otago Daily times, too. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. But in this entire region, say from Fiordland all the way over to the Nuggets. Have you heard of any other attacks along that coast - except for the ones at the Otago Peninsula? Have you ever heard of any other attacks, Level 4's, between White Pointers and humans?

BETHUNE: Shark attacks, yeah - but basically just Sevengillers.

CRAWFORD: When these Sevengillers are attacking, how do they attack? 

BETHUNE: Well, for instance, I caught one a few years back over at Wangaloa there. And I couldn’t believe it, it was quite a big animal and I pulled her in. Opened it up ... well, I was going to land her anyhow, opened her up, and she had a full-sized bloody fin off a Seal inside her. I'd swear it had been cut off with a knife! 

CRAWFORD: Really, a Sevengiller? That’s the first I’ve heard of that! 

BETHUNE: Plus, two year ago, competition again ... I landed a big Sevengiller. It was a competition, and I cleaned her. She was full with a bloody Fur Seal pup. 

CRAWFORD: She had a pup in her?

BETHUNE: Yeah. And the same day, another one - caught by another boat south of the Nuggets - had the same trouble. When they cleaned it, boat was full of just bloody fur. So, that’d been two Sevengillers that were feeding on Seal pups. 

CRAWFORD: Was that something that was kind of a surprise to you? 

BETHUNE: No, not a surprise. 

CRAWFORD: People had talked about Sevengillers taking Seals? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, oh for sure. I caught two of them again last Saturday. They didn’t have any fur in them. 

CRAWFORD: What did they have in their guts? 

BETHUNE: They had Red Cod. And I can remember attacks down around Riverton and Oreti. Once again, guys were dragging flounder net, and got bitten and on one particular occasion - I remember they actually grabbed it by the tail, and dragged it up the beach and it was a Sevengiller. I think they’re more responsible for bloody bites in this area than White Pointers, to be quite honest. 

CRAWFORD: And yet White Pointers are definitely here in these waters.

BETHUNE: Oh yeah, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: Is it possible in the Long Point attack ... is it possible that was a Sevengiller? 

BETHUNE: It is possible, because the body was never recovered. But all the drownings we’ve had down here over the years, there’s very very few bodies recovered. 

CRAWFORD: Is that just nature of the water currents? 

BETHUNE: Nature of the coastline, inaccessible rocks and ...

CRAWFORD: What I’m trying to get at here is not recovery of the body. You’ve brought up two important things. First, the possibility or probability that it was a White Pointer - because they are large fish. 

BETHUNE: And there was a large one in the area at the time, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Right. And second, at least for the first time I’ve heard, the Sevengillers are overlapping with the White Pointers in terms of what they’re feeding on - not just the fish, but in terms of Seals. There have been instances, obviously of Sevengillers attacking humans in other situations. 

BETHUNE: Oh, yeah. For sure. 

CRAWFORD: There have also been quite a few reports about the Sevengillers harassing boarders or swimmers. Not necessarily attacking them, but ...

BETHUNE: That’s right. Now, I can say they were responsible for a lot of the bites - not too worried about that. But even the ones I catch, you know just recently, I weighed one in last year. With the guts out, it weighed in at just over 100 kg. it was a big fish, and it had bloody bite marks on it. A big lot of bite marks on it, so it had obviously taken on another. 

CRAWFORD: Sevengiller to Sevengiller? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: For that fish, do you remember where the bite marks were - on the body? 

BETHUNE: Oh, between the dorsal fin and the tail. 

CRAWFORD: And on the back? 

BETHUNE: On the side. The narrowest part.

CRAWFORD: Do you by any chance remember if that was a male or a female Sevengiller? 

BETHUNE: Size of it, that’d be a female. 

CRAWFORD: Do you know anything about shark courtship behaviour?

BETHUNE: No, but I thought that possibly what it was, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Love bites, in the true sense?

BETHUNE: Yeah. 


4. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - DIRECT EXPERIENCE

CRAWFORD: When you were out there, did you see any White Pointers?

BETHUNE: When I had me clinker dinghy at Tautuku, before commercial fishing, we had one pull up alongside.

CRAWFORD: Was this the first time you ever saw a White Pointer in the wild? 

BETHUNE: First close encounter, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: What year was this, roughly? 

BETHUNE: 1968, 69.

CRAWFORD: Time of year? 

BETHUNE: I know exactly - New Year's Day. 

CRAWFORD: And you were out on which boat? 

BETHUNE: The clinker dinghy - 16 foot. 

CRAWFORD: Where? 

BETHUNE: Just south of the Tautuku Peninsula. 

CRAWFORD: You were rod-and-reel fishing? 

BETHUNE: Yep.

CRAWFORD: What happened?

BETHUNE: We’re fishing, and we had a danline down as well. There’s three of us in the boat - nothing much doing, so we decided to lift this danline. The health wasn’t really good, because we’d had a big night New Year's Eve. We lifted the danline, and there was about a 4-5 foot Sand Shark on the hand line, on the set line. And we ended up on the side of the boat, and we’re knocking him on the head to kill him before we got him into the boat. And there was this vibration, it was hitting some of the boat. And this bloody submarine, it just came up out of nowhere, and lay alongside the boat - and it was longer than the boat. We looked at one another, and we decided it was time to go home. And to this day, me brothers were with me, there were three of us in the boat, and we got home and they said "Big night on the beer?" and "Do you think you imagined it!?" [laughs] And I said "No, we didn’t!" 

CRAWFORD: All 3 of you imagined it? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: In terms of that classification system between humans and White Pointers 1-4, what you rate this incident?

BETHUNE: Level 2.

CRAWFORD: Like a swim-by. But do you reckon that animal - it being so close to you, was it interacting with you?

BETHUNE: Well, he just came up along the boat and virtually lay there.

CRAWFORD: Just did you see its eyes? Did you get idea its eyes were on you guys? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: Did it circle around after laying up alongside? 

BETHUNE: Just stationary. 

CRAWFORD: Most people have it in their mind that White Pointers have to keep swimming all the time ...

BETHUNE: Yeah, yeah.

CRAWFORD: Was it really stationary, or maybe gliding? 

BETHUNE: Well, we’d be drifting at that stage, but you know, it kept there with us. Just, it was there. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly how long do you reckon do you think it was? 

BETHUNE: it was longer than our 16-foot boat by a good 2 feet. An 18- footer.

CRAWFORD: How long did it stay with you? 

BETHUNE: It didn’t get a chance. We turned the motor on and pissed off - rapidly. 

CRAWFORD: So, the actual interaction was what - 15 seconds? 

BETHUNE: Longer than that.

CRAWFORD: But less than a minute?

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: As far as you know, the animal didn’t follow you? 

BETHUNE: No. 

CRAWFORD: When it came up, did the dorsal fin break the surface? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: The back? 

BETHUNE: No, just the fin. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. So, that was your first encounter.

BETHUNE: That was me first close one, yeah.

CRAWFORD: How many encounters have you had with White Pointers? 

BETHUNE: Four. 

CRAWFORD: That first incident was prior to your commercial fishing history. Was your second incident also in that recreational fishing phase, or your commercial days? 

BETHUNE: The second encounter was when I was still in a rock hopper. 

CRAWFORD: Was this before the clinker dinghy?

BETHUNE: The red boat, it was all round about the same time. 

CRAWFORD: What time of year? 

BETHUNE: It was Labour Weekend.

CRAWFORD: And Labour Weekend in New Zealand is when? 

BETHUNE: Oh, October. 

CRAWFORD: So, this was Spring for you. Where were you? 

BETHUNE: Cosgrove Island, at Long Point. We were rock fishing.

CRAWFORD: Pretty close to shore. 

BETHUNE: No, we were in reasonably deep water. 

CRAWFORD: Like what? 

BETHUNE: 12-15 fathom. 

CRAWFORD: Rod and reel fishing? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: What kind of fish were you catching? 

BETHUNE: Groper. 

CRAWFORD: What happened? 

BETHUNE: We were just standing on ... there’s 3 ledges on it, and depending on your sea condition, it affects which ledge you were fishing. Standing up above there one day, and cleaning Groper - and of course, the heads were getting chucked back in.

CRAWFORD: And you’re on shore?

BETHUNE: Yeah, yep. And once again, just the same kind of encounter as had out on the boat. It bloody just appeared out of nowhere. And us standing on the rocks - it was a big fish, it just looked like a bloody submarine when he surfaced. Just up it came, and at that time, everybody ... it used to be a popular rock to fish ... that fish was seen there on a regular basis, for a couple of years. 

CRAWFORD: Really? Roughly what year was this? 

BETHUNE: I’d say '65-'70. 

CRAWFORD: In this case you saw it in Spring. But was there any distinguishing feature, like any scars or anything that people recognized that individual fish? 

BETHUNE: No, it never came that high out of the water. It would be down 7 or 8 feet in the water. And it was just a great big submarine.

CRAWFORD: How did people know that that submarine was the same submarine as what they had seen before?

BETHUNE: No, they didn’t. it was just a fish seen there on a regular basis. Every fishing trip virtually. And it was a rock that was fished very heavily, you know?

CRAWFORD: Fishing within proximity ... are we talking like within a kilometre of that spot? 

BETHUNE: No, it was the only rock you could fish.

CRAWFORD: Ok, I see. And when people went there, it was common for them to see a large White Pointer. What seasons would people be fishing off that rock? 

BETHUNE: From Labour Weekend. It was generally round about when the first Groper was caught - on through to April. 

CRAWFORD: So, October to April, maybe seven months. In those months, would it be the case that a White Pointer - or maybe that specific White Pointer - was there throughout how much of that seven months? 

BETHUNE: Well, I say most of the fishermen in those days came from Kaitangata, you know? And it went around the mine like wildfire, and it wasn’t many weeks went past that there wasn’t someone down there fishing - sea condition being favourable - that it wasn’t seen. 

CRAWFORD: Throughout the entire seven months though? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: If it was an individual White Pointer, that shark was there over a long period of time. Was it the case that there was a White Pointer there - possibly the same fish - over years? 

BETHUNE: I’m thinking so, because it was a big animal. 

CRAWFORD: I know but, would it come back next year? 

BETHUNE: Oh yeah, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: The trick here is that there’s a seasonality to the fishing - so if people don’t go there and fish, they don’t know if a White Pointer is there or not. 

BETHUNE: That’s right.

CRAWFORD: So, we don’t know if it buggered off in the winter or ...

BETHUNE: Well, that particular rock - which is known for its Groper fishery - and the Groper only come in shore like that in the summer months. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. So, if an individual White Pointer was there for Groper, and it happened to be that fishermen were also there for the Groper ... then you got three different things that are there at roughly the same time. I’m presuming that nobody fished there during the winter?

BETHUNE: Very rarely, if they did. It would only be for Blue Cod. But it wasn’t a good rock to catch Blue Cod on. Simple fact it was sand bottom for catching the Groper on. A wee bit of reef there to catch Blue Cod was only 20 feet out. 

CRAWFORD: Was there a kind of local name that people gave to that White Pointer? 

BETHUNE: No.

CRAWFORD: You’re reasonably certain that people would have seen a White Pointer, perhaps that same White Pointer from year to year. Was there a period of time when the White Pointer wasn’t there? 

BETHUNE: Don’t know, because as I say, it's not a popular place in the winter time. 

CRAWFORD: Do you remember when that fish didn’t show up anymore? How many years would people have seen it before it wasn't being seen there? Was it for a couple of years, five years maybe or ten years? 

BETHUNE: Oh, it’d be over a five-year period, I’d say roughly. 

CRAWFORD: And then for whatever reason, not there? Did you fish in that region after that period of time where the animal was seen by many people? 

BETHUNE: For a short period, yeah.

CRAWFORD: And never saw a White Pointer there after? 

BETHUNE: No. 

CRAWFORD: Did you hear any more stories of other people seeing it either? Or were there any other places along the Catlins here, where people had the same kinds of observations of White Pointers repeatedly? 

BETHUNE: Tautuku. I remember stories of different people seeing them yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Any indication that there were certain animals that might have taken up residence there? 

BETHUNE: No, only size-wise. And once again, on that south side of Tautuku Peninsula, it was another popular Groper fishing spot. And the fish were cleaned on the rocks and the rock pool behind, and the heads and guts left on the rocks. So, every time you get a big sea, the heads will wash back into the sea.

CRAWFORD: And if there was a White Pointer kind of hanging around, waiting for a swell to bring out a Groper head, why not? Ok. That’s the second of your four White Pointer experiences. Were the third and fourth while you were commercial fishing? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: For the third incident, roughly what year was that? 

BETHUNE: Early 80’s.

CRAWFORD: And roughly what time of year? 

BETHUNE: December, sometime.

CRAWFORD: Where were you? 

BETHUNE: Half a mile off the beach here.

CRAWFORD: Directly off Kaka Point here?

BETHUNE: Yep.

CRAWFORD: Roughly what depth of water? 

BETHUNE: Fifteen fathoms.

CRAWFORD: What happened? 

BETHUNE: Just when commercial setnetting started there. We were catching Rig fish, and there was something wrecking the nets on a regular basis. We didn’t know how big it was, what sort of fish it was. So, this day we were all out, and one of the boats come up on the beach along-side me. But he got this White Pointer in his net this one day when he went to lift his net, rope over the net. And he abandoned it, but it was a big fish. Abandoned it, and he left the net behind. I went back the next day, and there was only the floats and the leadline left sort of thing. It had wrecked the net. 

CRAWFORD: Was the shark still alive, when he first got to it? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: So, it was tangled in his net - but still alive? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. So anyhow, he abandoned it, and he went back the next day and picked up the remnants. At that stage I hadn’t seen it. About two or three days later, another boat was setnetting in the same spot but he got a heap of Rig, and he was cleaning them out here back to the Nuggets to do his Crayfish pots. This White Pointer picked him up and started following him out to the Nuggets, and when he stopped and done his first pot for the day, with all the blood and guts on the deck, soon as he stopped, it all went out through the scuppers in gunwales. and this fish actually attacked the bloody scuppers. 

CRAWFORD: Where the blood and guts were coming off the deck?

BETHUNE: Yeah, it attacked the scuppers.

CRAWFORD: By 'attack' do you mean ...

BETHUNE: It started chomping at the scuppers. The young crew member that was on the boat, he climbed up on top of the wheelhouse. That’s how bloody terrified he was. 

CRAWFORD: When the boat was headed down to the Nuggets, it was cleaning the Rigs as it was going? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: So, there was basically a burley trail behind it?

BETHUNE: Oh yeah, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: Did they reckon that the fish followed them down to the Nuggets - and when they were on station, ready to deploy their pots, that’s when the animal started interacting with their boat? If the animal was going after the scuppers, and he’s biting down on the vessel - that’s a Level 4 encounter. That’s a story, did you see it? 

BETHUNE: I didn’t see it no, but it was a boat along-side me.

CRAWFORD: What happened in your third encounter? 

BETHUNE: Round about the same time, I was cleaning Rig. I had done me Crayfish pots at the Nuggets, and steamed across to Wangaloa which is about a 12-mile steam. And I was cleaning a Rig, so I got across ... halfway across the bay, I suppose. Thought nothing of it. Bloody got across there, and I decide to put a couple danlines down before I done me Crayfish pots.

CRAWFORD: Danline for Groper? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. So now I’ve done a few Crayfish pots, and then went to find the danline. And it was gone. "Oh yeah, that’s interesting." It had a big 12-gallon float on it, so it took a bit of pulling under. "Oh well, I guess I write that off." Carried on, bloody doing our Crayfish pots. Shifted to the next little reef, and Jack Klassen as it turned out was same crew that was on the boat out at the Nuggets - he had changed boats, and he was working for me. He said, "Have a look at this coming!" At this time, he was on top of the wheelhouse, and this big bastard, bloody appeared on the scene, and he just sort of started circling the boat. And I tried to ram him a couple or three times, but it just kept moving ahead. It moved on eventually. Well that same day, believe it or not, I don’t know if he followed us from here or what ... I got a big Sevengiller that day on the danline, and when I cleaned it, believe it or not - I was only boat on the ocean that day - it was full of bloody Rig tails and heads. So, it had followed us across the bay. 

CRAWFORD: That was a Sevengiller? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: But the fish you saw out there was a White Pointer? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: When it comes to identifying a fish, in or at the surface of the water ... non-fishermen, surfers or swimmers - they might see a fish and all they know is it’s a shark. 

BETHUNE: Oh yeah, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: When you see a shark out there, whether it’s a Sevengiller or a White Pointer or something else, how do you tell? People that haven’t spent a lot of time on the water, there have been suggestions that some people who are new to the water, for example they might see a Basking Shark and think it’s a White Pointer. 

BETHUNE: That’s right. 

CRAWFORD: Have you seen Basking Sharks out here? 

BETHUNE: Once. 

CRAWFORD: Was it an individual fish, or a group of them? 

BETHUNE: The one. 

CRAWFORD: Given that you’ve seen both Basking Sharks and White Pointers, what strikes you as being the most important differences between them? 

BETHUNE: Basking Sharks have got the huge gills on them.   

CRAWFORD: Anything else in terms of coloration, shape, or anything? 

BETHUNE: Oh, I never bothered getting close to it. Just seen the fin and that fin was too big for a bloody White Pointer. 

CRAWFORD: When you see a White Pointer, what are the distinguishing features that strike you?

BETHUNE: The white belly. 

CRAWFORD: Yeah. Now that Sevengiller though, it was also taking fish? You had cut it open, and there it was - full of the Rig heads? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. And the fins, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: How big do you reckon that Sevengiller was? 

BETHUNE: Eight feet. Actually, I catch a lot of them. Occasionally in fishing competition. I got two last Saturday, actually. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. That third encounter, what year was that? 

BETHUNE: Just after I had me own boat, which was ’72, '73, '74. 

CRAWFORD: Mid-70’s, something like that? 

BETHUNE: Yeah

CRAWFORD: Time of year? 

BETHUNE: Still getting Crayfish pots, so it would have been November-December. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Fourth encounter - when was that? 

BETHUNE: Once again it was caught in a setnet over at Wangaloa here. 

CRAWFORD: Year? 

BETHUNE: Round about the 80’s.

CRAWFORD: And time of year for that one? 

BETHUNE: Round about the same time - Oh, no. Hang on. It would be later than that, because I actually cut it up for Crayfish bait. So, March/April. 

CRAWFORD: Out in the bay here? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Setnetting? 

BETHUNE: I wasn’t. This other boat was, but caught it in the setnet and he actually towed in onto the beach here at Karoro Creek

CRAWFORD: You saw him towing it in? 

BETHUNE: Yep. He towed it past us when we were trawling, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: The animal was dead when he found it in the net?

BETHUNE: No. It was too alive to do anything but, so he just towed it. 

CRAWFORD: And basically, suffocated it?

BETHUNE: And beached it down here.

CRAWFORD: When it came to the beach, people took pictures, negotiated for teeth? 

BETHUNE: Oh yeah, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: Did anybody cut the animal’s stomach open? 

BETHUNE: I did. 

CRAWFORD: And what was inside that animal’s stomach? 

BETHUNE: I can’t recall to be quite honest. There couldn’t have been much, otherwise I would remember it. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly how long was that animal?

BETHUNE: Sixteen-odd feet.

CRAWFORD: And this was in your Fall? 

BETHUNE: Late Autumn. Because I actually cut it up, and froze it for Crayfish bait for the coming season. 

CRAWFORD: And that would be a Level 1, because the animal was dead or being killed. 

BETHUNE: Yeah.


5. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - EXPERIENCES OF OTHERS

CRAWFORD: What is the first time you remember hearing about, or seeing, White Pointers? 

BETHUNE: I would hear the old man talking about them. 

CRAWFORD: What did he say? 

BETHUNE: Sounds like it used to be a popular bloody fishing spot, off the rocks in those days. Most of the miners down there, they all make cribs in the Tautuku Peninsula, and they’re there on a regular basis. As a kid, I can remember Dad had a photograph of a White Pointer on the beach. He actually had a tooth out of this particular one, out of the second row of bloody teeth, and I’ve lost track of it. It was around home, up until a few years ago. I don’t know where it got to. This particular bloody day, they all went down for the weekend, and in those days, a couple of commercial boats worked out of there. It was a great spot for catching bloody Flounder and Sole in the surf, just with a drag net. They went down there on the Friday night, and just got into the water and the old fisherman came out, "Get out of there young man! Bastards! A couple of White Pointers are bloody in there." And what was happening, they were handlining Groper, and these two sharks were following right into the backwater. Well, not backwater, they came in behind them, the tide went out, and the boats were sitting high and dry, sorta thing. And they used to clean their Groper on the rocks. Right at the so-called anchorage. These big buggers were coming in and picking up the Groper heads every day. 

CRAWFORD: Did you see them? 

BETHUNE: I don’t know. I was only bit of a kid then. Anyhow, they pulled out of it. The next day, when the boats came home, they saw these two fish follow the boats in. Being coal miners as well, "We’ll fix these buggers next weekend." And they had access to explosives. [laughs]. So what happens was, they’re down there the next weekend when the boats come home. Sure enough these two buggers turned up, and they had a Groper head with dynamite in it, chucked it in, and one of the sharks made a lunge at it. They were a bit trigger-happy, and it went off before it got into its mouth, and it lifted him out of the bloody water. So the fish turned out, and went back out. They followed the fin around the bloody bay. It turned around and came back, and they had done the same thing again. As soon as the Groper head hit the water, well she flew at it - must have been a female because it’s a big fish. She flew at it, and it blew the head off of it. And the photograph - I lost track of it as well - it was 15 to 20 men around it when it was on the beach, and they couldn’t drag it up the beach. It was a big animal. 

CRAWFORD: And you were a kid when this happened?

BETHUNE: No. It was before my time, I think. 

CRAWFORD: It was either in your very earliest of days or before, so maybe the 30s? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: There are a couple of things in the story that are important. It was very clear that these animals were responding to the rock where these guys were cleaning their fish, or were following boats which had already being cleaning fish. Was there any indication that the sharks were following the boats? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, they followed the boats in every day apparently. 

CRAWFORD: Was it typical that those boats - when they were coming back in - they’d be cleaning on the way? 

BETHUNE: Oh yeah, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: You also mentioned that there were at least a couple of White Pointers sometimes? 

BETHUNE: Yep.

CRAWFORD: Sid you get the sense that those fish were swimming around together? Or did they just all seem to be attracted to the same thing?

BETHUNE: That’s more than I could tell you. But there were occasions at about the same time - before they actually blew that one up. There was one old guy, lived in the bush here, and he only had a rowboat. And the commercial boats used to tow him out round to the point of the peninsula because he had no outboard in those days. They would tow him out there and leave him there, and then pick him up on the way home. 

CRAWFORD: Which peninsula?

BETHUNE: Tautuku. Pick him up, rather than him having to row back. So anyhow, this particular day, they came back to the peninsula and he wasn’t there. And they thought "He must’ve rowed home" sort of thing. Well, bloody as it turned out was, he was fishing away there and this big bugger come up and lay alongside the boat which was longer than his dinghy sort of thing. So he rowed home that day, and he was back on the beach when the commercial boats arrived in. The next bloody, he went back out the following week or whenever, the same thing happened! So he went to home the second time, and the shark came up and he bit the oar in half. So when they arrived, to pick him up and tow him home, he was lying on the back of the boat, bloody out of sight, petrified. 

CRAWFORD: Any reason why that White Pointer would have bitten the oar in half? 

BETHUNE: Well, I don’t know. He may have given him ... had a poke at him with the oar. Wouldn’t know. 

CRAWFORD: When he was fishing, would he have been handlining? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: For Blue Cod? 

BETHUNE: No, Groper. 

CRAWFORD: When you said that the man in the rowboat who was towed ... you said that he was laying in the bottom of the boat. What was the purpose for him laying in the bottom of the boat? 

BETHUNE: So the bloody fish couldn’t see him. 

CRAWFORD: Was there any indication ...

BETHUNE: He must have been circling the boat. 

CRAWFORD: Yeah. Some indication that maybe the animal was looking in the boat? 

BETHUNE: Oh probably, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Well, some White Pointers are known to do stuff - they call 'spy-hopping'. 

BETHUNE: I know. [laughs]
 
CRAWFORD: Was this before your time? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. Heard it from Dad. 

CRAWFORD: So maybe in the 1930’s as well? 

BETHUNE: It would be. There were two commercial boats still down there fishing Tautuku, but it was an ex-bloody whaling station. 

CRAWFORD: When would that whaling station have closed down? 

BETHUNE: Round about the same time, I would say. 

CRAWFORD: In the 30’s? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Do you remember the old-timers talking about the White Pointers and the whaling station? 

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: What do you remember them saying? 

BETHUNE: Well, as soon as they harpooned a whale, the White Pointers turned up virtually. You know, when they were towing them back to be processed. 

CRAWFORD: And the sharks would be following? Or trying to take a bite? 

BETHUNE: Oh, biting

CRAWFORD: As soon as the whale carcass was hauled up next to the vessel, the White Pointers were around - taking bites?

BETHUNE: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Were there any occasions when the White Pointers were either taking a run at smaller boats that might have been associated with the whaling operations? 

BETHUNE: Not that I can recall. But I’ll be surprised if it didn’t happen. 

CRAWFORD: At the whaling station, once they hauled the whale out ... I’m presuming that they hauled it to shore, winch it up, and then start flensing and all the rest of it? Is it the case that there were White Pointers that would hang around ...

BETHUNE: Oh, for sure. I’d really count on it. The last whaling station was Tory Channel in NZ here and I've heard accounts of them being round the slipway here. 

CRAWFORD: What was the exact location of the whaling station down here? 

BETHUNE: Tautuku Peninsula - on the north side. Tautuku Headlands, river comes down, boat harbour is right there. 

CRAWFORD: To your knowledge, have there been any White Pointer attacks on humans - along this stretch of coastline, the Catlins?

BETHUNE: Oh well, about the mid 60’s. I touched on it the day before, when you were talking to what’s-his-name. There was a shark attack, a woman was taken by a shark at Long Point between that time and the '70’s. 

CRAWFORD: Late 1960’s, there was a woman attacked at Long Point? 

BETHUNE: Yeah. She got washed off the rocks with a big wave, down into the Kelp - her husband was there. She got out into the Kelp, and a shark come in and took her. And that was round about the same time as Paul [Richardson] - that he’d seen the White Pointer on the south side of Long Point. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly when was this? 

BETHUNE: I'd say '68-'69. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. In terms of that women being swept into the Kelp bed by the wave - did people see a shark attack her? 

BETHUNE: Yeah, her husband saw it.

CRAWFORD: And was the body recovered? 

BETHUNE: No. 

CRAWFORD: Was there anything else you recall about the nature of this attack? Was there a breach, was there circling?

BETHUNE: No, no. There was a big write up in the local papers of course. But no, I can’t recall that much of it. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. If there was no body recovered, and there was an eye witness, it's sometimes not possible with a great deal of certainty to know what kind of shark ...

BETHUNE: Oh, for sure. But it was all the same time that big fish was being seen in that area. 

Copyright © 2017 Barry Bethune and Steve Crawford