Experience: Commercial Fisherman
Regions: Otago, Catlins
Interview Location: Taieri Mouth, NZ
Interview Date: 26 January 2016
Post Date: 14 September 2017; Copyright © 2017 Graeme Fraser and Steve Crawford
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4. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - DIRECT EXPERIENCE
CRAWFORD: Did you ever encounter any White Pointers in the wild?
FRASER: I did have a White Pointer in a setnet when I had my first boat the Marina.
CRAWFORD: Where was that?
FRASER: Just out there [Taieri Mouth]. Probably about 1970, '71.
CRAWFORD: What depth of water, roughly?
FRASER: Oh, about, 12 fathom.
CRAWFORD: Do you recall time of year?
FRASER: Was in the summer.
CRAWFORD: Was it wrapped up in your setnet? Was it dead when you brought it up?
FRASER: No, no. It was the first time I ever put setnets out there to catch Rig. I was fishing by myself, and I went out to set it at night and then went out early in the morning. I had a float on each end, and it was only the rig net, 7-inch mesh, not very high either. I started pulling it in, and the net was broken in half, so I went to the other end and when I was pulling it, up was coming this big shape. It was a shark. So, I got it up alongside the boat, and I cleaned it up - the net, the headline and the leadline. The headline and headline were made of 3/4 inch dyneema rope. And I think the breaking strain was about 2/3 of a tonne, or something like that.
CRAWFORD: Yeah, several hundred pounds.
FRASER: I was looking over the side, and it was a White Pointer - because its mouth opened, and I could see the teeth, definitely a White Pointer. It was probably, I estimated it to be about 12-foot long. So, I went to the other side of the boat to get a big strap to try to put on its tail, then the boat gave a hell of a jerk, and I ran over here and it had busted those two lines - and it was swimming away.
CRAWFORD: It was free and clear of the net? Or was it still tangled up partly?
FRASER: No, no - busted out. I don’t think there was any net left on it. But it got out of that net.
CRAWFORD: Was that an active mouth that was cutting through the net?
FRASER: Yeah. It was being very ... it was pissed off.
CRAWFORD: How do you know it was pissed off?
FRASER: It was shaking its head from side to side. Not fast, just slowly. So, I thought "Well, I'll go and get a big strap and I’ll try and get his tail with the boat hook and get it by the tail." That's when it must have gone a bit crazy, because the boat had started jerking. And when I went over there, I saw the shape swimming to the bottom.
CRAWFORD: Once it was free, it didn’t come back to the boat, didn’t circle or anything like that?
FRASER: No. Gone. The cockpit of that boat was 12 foot long, and it was as long as that anyway. It was a big animal.
CRAWFORD: Ok. Were there any other times that you saw White Pointers out here?
FRASER: No. Couldn’t identify it as a White Pointer. I’d see sharks from the dock, you know - when you're driving along.
CRAWFORD: Did you ever mark big targets on sonar when you’re out there? Even if you wouldn't know what it was?
Copyright © 2017 Graeme Fraser and Steve Crawford