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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5. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - EXPERIENCES OF OTHERS
CRAWFORD: Ok. Let's get back to your early days. Did your Dad, or any of the old-timers, ever tell you about White Pointers in this region?
FRASER: Well me Uncle, he had a Groper patch just outside the island way back in the day - that would have been early 50’s, because it was all really virgin ground. It hadn't been fished before. And they were only ten minutes away from the entrance, and it was a nice calm day. And the crew was up on the forward deck, looking over the side and here’s all these Gropers swimming past the boat. Big ones. So they anchored the boat up, chucked a bit of burley over, and they filled the boat up in no time. But then he started having trouble with a shark, and they reckoned it was a Great White. So, he took the 303 out, because it was chomping up the fish, and frightening them away, and being a nuisance. They got the shark in the fin.
CRAWFORD: They got it and pulled it in? Or did they kill it ...
FRASER: Just left it out there.
CRAWFORD: If it was close enough to kill, then it was close enough to see well?
FRASER: Oh, yeah. It was coming alongside the boat, almost coming out of the water.
CRAWFORD: And your uncle knows a White Pointer from the other kinds of animals out there?
CRAWFORD: No intention to keep the animal for its teeth or its liver or anything like that?
FRASER: In those days, you didn’t bother. They just wanted the shark gone.
CRAWFORD: The primary intention was to get the shark to stop harassing their Groper fishery?
FRASER: Yeah. And also, I can remember when I was a kid, me Father had a boat, and he was fishing up north off Taieri and there was a White Pointer. And it swam around the boat several times when they were fishing. And then it went around the side, and grabbed hold of the rudder.
CRAWFORD: That’s very interesting.
FRASER: And I can remember when I was kid ... you can see the teeth marks in the rudder, on the boat and the rudder.
CRAWFORD: This would have been in the 1950’s maybe?
FRASER: Yeah, 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] When your Dad told you the story about a White Pointer, were they burleying at the time? This would have been a Level 3?
CRAWFORD: So, there was something that had attracted it.
FRASER: It was chomping at the Groper, when it was being pulled up.
FRASER: So, they were watching, and it came up to the top, and swam around the boat.
CRAWFORD: The animal did something above Level 3 then - it chomped on the rudder?
FRASER: On the rudder, yeah.
CRAWFORD: What did your Dad figure was up with that? What’s with the biting on the rudder?
FRASER: Curiosity, I suppose. He probably never saw a boat before. You wouldn't know, would you? Unless you were the shark itself.
CRAWFORD: Right. You don’t know where that shark came from, and if it had ever seen anything like this before.
CRAWFORD: Did your Dad get the feeling that this was kind of aggressive biting, or was it ...
FRASER: I don’t know what he said. Like, that’s what I’m talking about. I don’t know whether it was going, what intention, trying to eat the boat or just teething the thing.
Copyright © 2017 Graeme Fraser and Steve Crawford