Max Darroch

Darroch_Max_small.png

YOB: 1952
Experience: Commercial Fisherman, Cruise Crew, Cruise Skipper
Regions: Canterbury, Cook Strait, Northland, Chathams, Fiordland, Stewart Island
Interview Location: Milford Sound, NZ
Interview Date: 07 February 2016
Post Date: 01 December 2017; Copyright © 2017 Max Darroch and Steve Crawford

1. EXPERIENCE IN AOTEAROA/NZ COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS

CRAWFORD: Where were you born, Max. And when? 

DARROCH: I was born in Dunedin, in 1952. 

CRAWFORD: What was the age at which you first recall spending a big chunk of time around the water? 

DARROCH: I left school when I was 15, and went straight to work on a fishing boat in Timaru.

CRAWFORD: Prior to the age of 15, were you hanging around the beaches, or touring on dinghies? 

DARROCH: Oh, yeah.

CRAWFORD: Prior to the age of being on your own - if you were with adults or family or whatever, where would you be spending time?

DARROCH: Timaru.

CRAWFORD: In Timaru, were you swimming on the beach, playing with dinghies, fishing? 

DARROCH: Yeah. All of that really. We lived pretty close to the beach. I was swimming on the beach, and we were fishing off the wharfs.

CRAWFORD: What kind of fishing did you do? 

DARROCH: Originally, when I was a kid, just lines off the wharf. Just line fishing, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did you ever have access to a dinghy or a boat or anything? 

DARROCH: Yeah, yeah. My Father had a boat, yes. 

CRAWFORD: What did your Dad do? 

DARROCH: He was a draper. He had a drapery shop in Timaru. 

CRAWFORD: At what age did you start to get a little bit more independence - where you could go off with your mates, on your own? 

DARROCH: Oh well, fairly early. I grew up in Timaru. Both my parents worked, so I was on me own most of the time. Probably early teens. 

CRAWFORD: When you got to your teens, when you or your mates had the ability to drive, did that expand your operations? Did you go further afield to spend time around the water? 

DARROCH: Yeah, we went up to Malborough Sounds. Places like that. 

CRAWFORD: What were you doing up there? 

DARROCH: Just holidaying with a boat. 

CRAWFORD: When you were holidaying, what kinds of activities would you be doing while you were there? 

DARROCH: Mostly boating on the Sounds. 

CRAWFORD: Any degree of fishing? 

DARROCH: Fishing, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did you ever get into any surfing, or anything like that? 

DARROCH: No. 

CRAWFORD: So, boating and fishing. Did you ever do any harvesting, like freediving for Pāua or anything like that? 

DARROCH: No, I can’t swim. [laughs]

CRAWFORD: So, I guess swimming was out of the question. That’s something that has come up in several of these interviews. There are people who spend their lives on the water - and they can’t swim. Was it the case that in your early education, you had swimming lessons? 

DARROCH: Well, I did. But during my primary school years, I was a sick kid. I wasn’t at school very much. So, I spent a lot of time in hospitals, and I missed out on all the learning. 

CRAWFORD: You were comfortable on the water, just not comfortable in the water.

DARROCH: Yes. [laughs]

CRAWFORD: Where were we? Right - Marborough Sounds. You were boating, and you were in your late teens, early 20s? 

DARROCH: Late teens, yeah.

CRAWFORD: Boating, Fishing. Roughly how much time would you be spending on the water in Marlborough Sounds, during those years? 

DARROCH: Oh, we tried to get out there every day, if we could. The weather was dependent, obviously. We did a bit of water-skiing. I could float with a life jacket. So, I could do a bit of water-skiing in the early days. 

CRAWFORD: When you said that you were up there, were you living in Marlborough Sounds? 

DARROCH:  No, we were just holidaying. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly, how many weeks of the year might you be up there? 

DARROCH: Oh, maybe four. 

CRAWFORD: And still spending time on or around the water at Timaru? 

DARROCH: Yeah. That was just before I started working, I would have been 14-15. I started fishing in Timaru when I was 15. 

CRAWFORD: What kind of fishing do you mean? 

DARROCH: Trawling. 

CRAWFORD: You crewed on somebody’s vessel, and it was based out of Timaru. Roughly, what was the size of the vessel? 

DARROCH: That one would have been about 60-foot. 

CRAWFORD: It was a trawler - what were the target species? 

DARROCH: Elephant fish, obviously in the summer time. That’s when there’s the big money in it. But we used to go out the deeper water for [Terakihi].

CRAWFORD: Those were bottom-trawls, or midwater-trawls? 

DARROCH: Bottom, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: So, at the age of 15 were you were working full-time fishing? 

DARROCH: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: Was there seasonality to the fishing, more in the summer than the winter? 

DARROCH: Yeah, summer was the time. 

CRAWFORD: Did you alternate to another kind of fishing in the winter or ...

DARROCH: Yeah. We went out to the deeper water in the winter to the continental shelf. 

CRAWFORD: And what were you fishing there?

DARROCH: Another funny fish, we used to call Ghost Sharks that were similar to an Elephant Fish. They were a little bit different in the head. We used to catch them out there in the deeper water. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. How long did that job go till? 

DARROCH: I crewed on the boat till I was about 21, when I bought my own boat, and I worked that until I sold it about four years later. And then I just went back working for the companies again. 

CRAWFORD: What size was the vessel you bought? 

DARROCH: 50-foot.

CRAWFORD: Was it a trawler as well? 

DARROCH: Yes.

CRAWFORD: Pretty much the same kind of activities, same kind of places?

DARROCH: Yeah, yeah.

CRAWFORD: At the end of four years running your own boat, you started running company trawlers? 

DARROCH: I went to Nelson, actually. To work for Sealord’s in Nelson. 

CRAWFORD: How old were you then when you moved to Nelson? 

DARROCH: I would have been about 23-24. 

CRAWFORD: What kind of boat did you end up working on then? 

DARROCH: Trawling, again. Scalloping as well. 

CRAWFORD: With the trawlers, what regions were you fishing? 

DARROCH: Well, these were bigger boats. We went away for a long time. We worked around the Kaikoura coast, around the west coast, up through Cook Strait, in that area.

CRAWFORD: So, you were based out of Nelson, but you were off for weeks at a time?

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And your fishing range - on the eastern side of South Island, you came down as far as Kaikoura?

DARROCH: Yeah. About as far as Kaikoura.

CRAWFORD: And then, throughout Cook Strait. And then on the Tasman side - how far did you go there? 

DARROCH: Down as far as Greymouth

CRAWFORD: Ok. So, pretty much all of northern South Island. Did you do any fishing off North Island? 

DARROCH: No, I didn’t. But there were a lot of boats that did do that, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: I forgot to ask - roughly what size were these company trawlers? 

DARROCH: Those ones were about 80-odd feet. 

CRAWFORD: Gone for weeks at a time, full-time fishing, through winter and summer? 

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: I think you said there were some scalloping going on there too? 

DARROCH: Yeah, I did a bit of scalloping inshore for a while.

CRAWFORD: That was independent of the work you were doing with the trawling? 

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: What kind of boat were you using when you were scalloping? 

DARROCH: A little ex-Crayfish boat. They just put scalloping gear on it. It was about 40 foot - a steel boat. 

CRAWFORD: Where would you go scalloping? 

DARROCH: A lot on Tasman Bay, right in the bay itself.

CRAWFORD: That was a summer thing or a winter thing? 

DARROCH: That was a summer thing, yeah. There was a season for it. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. How long did you fish like that, trawling and scalloping? 

DARROCH: Scalloping, I only did for one season. And then I went back to trawling, well went onto a bigger trawler after that. Still based out of Nelson. But We used to go out for six or seven weeks at a time, out past the Chathams. I wasn’t the Skipper, I was just a mate on it. 

CRAWFORD: But it was offshore, deepwater trawling?

DARROCH: Orange Roughy, we were chasing. 

CRAWFORD: That went on for a few years? 

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: What was the next change, in terms of your time on the water? 

DARROCH: Oh, the boat broke down, actually. And I was sitting in a bar in Nelson reading the paper on Saturday morning. We were Juniors, we were [overtiding] for Skippers, and doing these things for the summer season. So a fella I might get a free trip to Milford Sound for a job interviews. [laughs] Fill in a couple days and that was 21 years ago, and I’m still here. [laughs]

CRAWFORD: That’s a fairly distinctive break. Roughly what year was that? 

DARROCH: Well, I came here 1995. 

CRAWFORD: Have you Skippered cruises in Milford Sound, through the past 20 years? 

DARROCH: Yeah. Here and we did a bit down on Stewart Island, around the southern fiords during the winter time on the Wanderer. It was the overnight boat that was here just a few minutes ago. I worked that one when I first started. 

CRAWFORD: Down around Stewart Island during winters - how many seasons for that? 

DARROCH: It was probably six or seven years that I was on that. 

CRAWFORD: Would you leave from Milford Sound on those Stewart Island trips?

DARROCH: Leave from Doubtful

CRAWFORD: Then head down to Stewart Island from there. Have a complement or about 50 people on board? 

DARROCH: Yeah, about that. When we were doing the Stewart Island trips, we’d actually sail from Bluff.  Do Doubtful, around Dusky, Preservation - that trip. Then we used to go to Bluff, and then do four or five days on Stewart Island. 

CRAWFORD: Whereabouts on Stewart Island were you? 

DARROCH: We worked down on the eastern side of Stewart Island. I wasn’t Skippering, I was just chief dishwasher and toilet cleaner. 

CRAWFORD: Did you spend any time in Halfmoon Bay

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did you fish, or do anything like that when you were there? 

DARROCH: No. 

CRAWFORD: Or was it just a port-of-call? 

DARROCH: Yeah, that’s all. We’d get water in.

CRAWFORD: You did those trips for a few years anyways?

DARROCH: Yeah, for the winter time. In the summertime I came up here to Milford.

CRAWFORD: You mentioned the other sounds, south of here. While you were running the cruises here, did you ever spend any significant amount of time outside Milford Sound? 

DARROCH: Every year we had to take the boats down to Bluff for survey. 

CRAWFORD: The coastals? 

DARROCH: Yeah. So, I did them. I took them down to Bluff and back. Oh, did that for about ten-odd years, backwards and forwards. 

CRAWFORD: That’s about a 20-hour run? 

DARROCH: Yeah, about 24 hours. 

CRAWFORD: Did you stop at a couple of places, along the way? 

DARROCH: No. If the weather was right, we just kept going. And the Red Boats, when I used to work for them, we used to take them around to Dunedin.

CRAWFORD: In general, did you have seasonality in your cruises? Was there a greater number of cruises in the summer, than in the winter? 

DARROCH: Yes. Summer’s a busy time, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: In the summers, what would a typical day look like? Two or three cruises? 

DARROCH: On these things, yeah three cruises a day.

CRAWFORD: Was it a 7 days on, 4 off? Something like that? 

DARROCH: 7 and 7, with that company. 

CRAWFORD: 'That company' being Southern Discoveries?

DARROCH: No, that was Real Journeys. I worked for Southern Discoveries after that. It was 10 days on and 4 off. 

CRAWFORD: How many years did you work here for Real Journeys? 

DARROCH: 11 years.

CRAWFORD: And then how many years for Southern Discoveries? 

DARROCH: I think it's about 8. 

CRAWFORD: And then how many years have you been working for Mitre Peak Cruises?

DARROCH: Oh, I’m just doing this part-time now. I’ve sort of semi-retired.

CRAWFORD: That’s important. When did you semi-retire? 

DARROCH: About a year ago. 

CRAWFORD: And the winter season - how many cruises a day? 

DARROCH: Winter time is a lot quieter, sometimes we only get in two cruises a day in here. 

CRAWFORD: The cruises that I’ve experienced for the last couple of days doing interviews - it's typically out to the Tasman, then back again?

DARROCH: That’s it. All pretty much the same. Some are a wee bit longer, some are shorter. 

CRAWFORD: But you’re talking about pretty much you doing the same transect - from a scientific point of view - that gets sampled three times a day, pretty much every day, with appropriate breaks. And that happens season-in, season-out for 20 years. You know Milford Sound pretty damn well. 

DARROCH: I’ve got a feeling I’ve seen it before! [laughs]

CRAWFORD: Yes, I bet. Ok. Other than the southern winter cruises, and the coastal runs, would you have spent any other significant time along the Fiordland coastline? 

DARROCH: Not really, no. I did a bit of Crayfishing many, many years ago. I come down with an old guy from Timaru, and we worked from George Sound and Bligh Sound, Crayfishing. He dropped dead on me on the deck, so I spent most of my time here. But that was the only other time I’ve been here.

CRAWFORD: Ok. Did we miss anything important, where you would have been spending time on the water doing other things? Or maybe you were elsewhere? Or does this pretty well summarize your experience on the water in New Zealand? 

DARROCH: I think so, yeah. 


2. EXPOSURE TO MĀORI/LOCAL/SCIENCE KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS

CRAWFORD: To what extent has Māori culture and knowledge influenced your understanding of marine ecosystems?

DARROCH: Probably Low to Medium, maybe. I recently got married to a Māori girl, so some from that. 

CRAWFORD: I think maybe Medium, if you are living with someone. 

DARROCH: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: What about Science culture and knowledge? How much has it affected your understanding of marine ecosystems?

DARROCH: I’d say probably a little higher than Medium, yeah. High.

CRAWFORD: Whenever someone says High or Very High, I ask them why?

DARROCH: When I came here you see, I didn’t know anything about the place. Since I’ve gotten here, everything has been on the scientific side.

CRAWFORD: I think maybe you being a guide, and dealing with tourists - they’ve got a million questions. And you’re doing the commentary during the cruises, right? 

DARROCH: God knows it. [laughs]


3. WHITE POINTER DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

CRAWFORD: Marlborough Sound. Did the old-timers up there say anything about White Pointers? You were spending time there, boating and fishing. Was there ever any discussion about White Pointers up there?

DARROCH: Not that I can recall. 

CRAWFORD: When you were fishing out of Nelson, in that region, did people talk about White Pointers there?
 
DARROCH: Yeah, they had ones there. 

CRAWFORD: Where, specifically? 

DARROCH: Straight off the end of d'Urville Island, right in Tasman Bay, around that area. 

CRAWFORD: Was there any kind of reason that they figured was bringing those sharks in to that area? 

DARROCH: No. I just heard them on the radio saying there’s a White Pointer, or what was supposedly a White Pointer, in that area. 

CRAWFORD: Do you have any recollection what time of year that would have been – summer, winter? 

DARROCH: Yeah, I do. That would have been about March/April.

CRAWFORD: Anywhere else in Cook Strait?

DARROCH: Not that I was told. 

CRAWFORD: What were the Seals like up there? In terms of abundance.

DARROCH: Seals? Not a lot. 

CRAWFORD: No place that they were super abundant? 

DARROCH: No, not around Nelson. Not while I was there, anyways. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. What was your knowledge of the old whaling stations up in Cook Strait? 

DARROCH: I have no knowledge of that at all, to be honest. I saw the remains of them, as we sailed by. That's about all.  

CRAWFORD: Over to the Chathams. It seems White Pointers were the subject of much discussion around there. Did people figure that there was a particular reason why the Chathams would be so sharky? 

DARROCH: I was told it was because of the current - is it a warmer current or colder current? 

CRAWFORD: The locals or old-timers told you it had something to do with the current?

DARROCH: That’s what I was told, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Was the current affecting the temperature? Or something in the nature of the water, or was the current maybe affecting food?

DARROCH: Food, I guess. It would be the reason they’d be there. 

CRAWFORD: Do you figure that the local people had said that? Or was that what you thought? 

DARROCH: That’s what I just thought, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did people over at the Chathams ever talk about reproduction with these White Pointers? Anything else like that? 

DARROCH: No. But there’s been a couple of attacks, like shark attacks over there. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. That was the Chathams, six months you were fishing out past there. Then you went up to Nelson?

DARROCH: Yes. I went on a deepwater trawler. We worked out of Wellington, really. 

CRAWFORD: When you were on that deepwater rig, well out there and over very deep water, did you happen to see sharks from time to time? 

DARROCH: No. We didn’t on those ones, no.

CRAWFORD: But that’s also a big vessel, and when you’re working on that vessel's deck ... I mean, you’re not really looking over to see what’s there. 

DARROCH: That's right. Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: After the deepwater trawling, then you came here to Milford Sound? 

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Twenty years of Skippering out of Milford. Thousands of cruises. I think you already said you’ve never seen a White Pointer on these grounds? 

DARROCH: Well, you see I don’t know. I’ve seen some sharks. In Harrison’s Cove, we used to throw a sack with lamb shanks in it, over the side. And the sharks would come and grab it. We could actually lift them well up out of the water. They were a blue colour, blue and white. I don’t know what kind of sharks, but they were quite big.

CRAWFORD: When you were here 20 years ago as a younger man, did the old-timers ever tell you about White Pointers in this region?

DARROCH: Not in here. Not to me anyways.

CRAWFORD: What about Fiordland generally? Further out there? 

DARROCH: Only the ones down Stewart Island. The only ones that have told me about them. I haven’t heard anyone talking around about here. 

CRAWFORD: Not from the Crayfishing fleet, or anything like that? 

DARROCH: No. 

CRAWFORD: For all the trips that you have done in Milford Sound, the visibility of what is happening in the water - I hear that can change quite dramatically, depending on precipitation? 

DARROCH: Yep. Definitely. 

CRAWFORD: Roughly, how long does it take with no rain before you as a Skipper start to notice that you’re seeing more things? 

DARROCH: Probably a couple, maybe three days.

CRAWFORD: Yeah? Even as soon as that? 

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: And what are the types of things that you would start to see in the water after those three or four days? That you would not have seen, if there was that freshwater layer with tannin on top? 

DARROCH: Schools of fish, schools of Kahawai, and Barracouta, that sort of thing. And yeah, sharks - those Blue Sharks. 

CRAWFORD: And you’ve see those sharks in fairly big numbers, like schools of them? 

DARROCH: Yeah. Especially in Harrison’s Cove, yeah. 

CRAWFORD: There are a couple of instances where people are talking about White Pointers attacking the Seals here at Milford Sound. Have you ever heard stories about that? 

DARROCH: Only that there’s been a wounded Seal, sitting up on the rock, with chunks taken out of him. There was one just recently, actually. 

CRAWFORD: Yes, I heard about that. How long ago? 

DARROCH: Oh, probably three weeks. 

CRAWFORD: Did people see the Seal by itself, or did people see it with the shark around? 

DARROCH: No, by itself. 

CRAWFORD: Did they ever see the White Pointer that they reckoned caused the damage? 

DARROCH: No, no. There was a story, like 20 years ago when I first started here. There was a shark that must have been sick, and some silly bugger jumped over the side and stabbed him with a knife. That was here in ’96 maybe. 

CRAWFORD: In Harrison Cove? 

DARROCH: No, that was just in the middle of the fiord. Actually, there was a stink about it because it turned out it was inside the marine reserve when he did it. Some bloody idiot. 

CRAWFORD: What kind of shark was it? 

DARROCH: I don’t know. But it was a big fella, and it was sick. 

CRAWFORD: How did they know it was sick? 

DARROCH: Well, he was hanging around for a couple of days. He just wasn’t going anywhere, he was just sort of ambling along. 

CRAWFORD: It could very well have been that it wasn’t sick, and that it wasn’t really ambling. There’s another very big shark called the Basking Shark, and they are just incredibly docile. They are often very slow - that's why they call them Basking Sharks. You’ll see them open their mouths and swim along while they are feeding. They’re plankton feeders. When was that again?

DARROCH: ’96. 

CRAWFORD: Who would be a good person to find out more about this? Would DOC [Department of Conservation] have a record of that maybe? 

DARROCH: Yeah, it was in the paper. It was quite a story at the time. The silly bugger jumped over the side and killed it. 

CRAWFORD: Killed it!

DARROCH: Yeah, just to be the hero. There’ll be a record of it somewhere, for sure. 

CRAWFORD: if there was a local paper that covers that, which would it be? 

DARROCH: The Southern Times. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. We are doing work with the Southern Times already. I hope that story will come up there. 


4. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - DIRECT EXPERIENCE

CRAWFORD: What was the first time you recall hearing about, or potentially seeing, a White Pointer? 

DARROCH: The first time would probably be - hell, the mid to late '60s. 

CRAWFORD: That would have been in your teens? 

DARROCH: Yeah, I was 17.

CRAWFORD: And you would have been in Timaru? 

DARROCH: Yeah.

CRAWFORD: So, as a younger kid in Timaru, White Pointers weren’t on your radar screen? 

DARROCH: Not really, no. We heard of them, but I never actually took them very seriously. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. So, when you were a kid, when you were swimming on the beaches, did you ever have a situation where the beach was closed, someone put up a warning flag for a shark, or anything like that? 

DARROCH: It was once. My brother lived in Whangarei, right at the top of North Island. And when I was a child, we used to go up and visit him. There was one time there, that we were to get out of the water because there was something out there. I didn’t see what it was, just saw a fin way off. 

CRAWFORD: No one went to check on it? Likely a shark, but no one really knew what kind? 

DARROCH: Nobody knew, no. We just saw a fin. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. Anything else about White Pointers from when you were in Timaru?

DARROCH: There was a lot of rig caught off Timaru. Sometimes you would get a whole net full of these bloody things. And there used to be a shark, this bloody enormous thing - he turned up every year off Timaru. [laughs]

CRAWFORD: How far offshore? 

DARROCH: Oh, not far. Twelve miles. 

CRAWFORD: This was your trawling grounds? 

DARROCH: Yes, this is where we were fishing. And of course, we were picking up those bloody things. There was bloody fish everywhere on the surface, and this shark used to just mosey around the boats while we were trawling the gear. The closest I ever saw it was probably from here to the rock wall. But as I said, I only saw this massive great fin. And somebody told me that it was a White Pointer, but I can’t be sure. 

CRAWFORD: So, you reckon that you were 30 metres or so from the animal when you saw it. What did you figure it was doing around the boats? Was it feeding on discards that were coming out of the trawler? 

DARROCH: Probably. 

CRAWFORD: Were you cleaning fish at the time? 

DARROCH: No, but other boats were cleaning.

CRAWFORD: It could have been that the shark was responding to the smell of the burley trail from the fish that were being cleaned. Or you said before that there were a lot of fish floating on the surface that had been killed in the trawl, and then you had selectively dumped them over the side. 

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: The old-timer, he said that this was a White Pointer?

DARROCH: Yeah. He came around every year, yeah. I saw him when I was a kid. I saw him for two years in a row, but then he disappeared. I heard later on from other people that he actually came back. How long do they live for? 

CRAWFORD: Oh, these animals can get up there, a lot more than what most people think. They can get up past 50 years. 

DARROCH: Hell. Is that right? 

CRAWFORD: Yeah, yeah.

DARROCH: Well, I wonder if it was the same one, or a different one?

CRAWFORD: That’s part of the reason for me asking the question. How would you know if you saw it one year, and then maybe saw it the next year. Did it have some distinguishing features? 

DARROCH: No. Not that I saw.

CRAWFORD: It was just big?

DARROCH: Yeah, he was a big fella. 

CRAWFORD: You saw a big fish. And then you saw a big fish again the next year and you reckoned, maybe it’s the same one?

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Did the old-timers ever talk about individual White Pointers that had some kind of distinctive mark? Or anything on them that they knew for sure it was resident? If it was either around for a long period of time, or it came back along a migration across years?

DARROCH: Well, that’s what I understood. Though no one mentioned any markings on it.

CRAWFORD: Ok. That was during your teen years in Timaru, including offshore trawling. Was there anyone else that reported seeing White Pointers in that region? 

DARROCH: Not really, not that I can recall. That’s the only part of the coast that I’ve seen them. Well, that was one. 

CRAWFORD: If that was a White Pointer, was that the only White Pointer you saw around Timaru? 

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Ok. From Nelson, you went to the Chathams? 

DARROCH: It was Chathams before Nelson, actually. It was before I bought my own boat. Went over there for the Crayfishing boon, way back in the ‘60s. We went across there on a boat from Timaru in the summer.

CRAWFORD: And how much time did you spend at the Chathams? 

DARROCH: Six months. 

CRAWFORD: You saw White Pointers there? 

DARROCH: Yeah, yeah.

CRAWFORD: Roughly, how many did you see? 

DARROCH: Oh, I saw probably three. There’s lots and lots and lots of stories over there about them. 

CRAWFORD: Yes, there are. Tell me about the animals that you saw. 

DARROCH: Well, the ones I saw, probably 6-8 feet long, maybe. They weren’t overly big, the ones I saw. But I know there are bigger ones than that. 

CRAWFORD: What were the circumstances that you saw these 6-8 footers?

DARROCH: We were at anchor at night, and they were just cruising around the bay that we were anchored in. 

CRAWFORD: Do you know if they were travelling in a group, or were they individuals? 

DARROCH: There were just two or three. Whether there was a group somewhere else, I don’t know. But the ones that I saw, there were just two or three.

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 you saw the smaller sharks at the Chathams, what Level of interaction would that have been? 

DARROCH: A swim-by I would say, a Level 2. There was one story though. There were a lot around at the time, and there were a lot of divers, and they would just dive down and pick up the Crayfish. This particular guy, he’d seen a couple of White Pointers so he employed a young fella to sit on his boat while he was diving. In those days, they didn’t have the rules or regulations that we have these days. He got this young fellow to sit on his boat, and he says "When I come to the surface and see that shark, you come and get me - in a hurry." So the young fella was sitting there. And he popped to the surface, and he said "Shark!" So the guy said "Right!" So he threw the hammers down on the boat, it was a little wee speedboat, and of course it took off like a rocket, and of course he fell backwards to the back of the boat. And the guy's in the water - with the shark below, and the boat on the surface. [laughs]. I think that night he went to the pub, he sold his boat, and sold all his diving gear. 

CRAWFORD: By 'diving gear,' I'm presuming that means he was scuba diving for Crayfish, as opposed to free diving. 

DARROCH: Yes.


5. WHITE POINTER ENCOUNTERS - EXPERIENCES OF OTHERS

CRAWFORD: Getting back to Timaru, did the old-timers ever talk about White Pointers in that region? 

DARROCH: Well, there was one guy told me that they witnessed a White Pointer and a Dolphin having a go. 

CRAWFORD: Really? 

DARROCH: That’s right. He told me it was a Porpoise or a Dolphin and a shark having a go off Timaru. And they sat and watched it for a while. 

CRAWFORD: This was an old-timer, talking to you? You would have been in your teens still? 

DARROCH: Yeah, a teenager. 

CRAWFORD: What exactly did he tell you? To the best of your memory.

DARROCH: I remember how he described it, that the shark had actually bitten a flipper or fin off this Dolphin. And it was swimming around and around, and he was sort of attacking it. 

CRAWFORD: The White Pointer was attacking the Dolphin?

DARROCH: Yeah. 

CRAWFORD: Was it a single Dolphin, or a Group?

DARROCH: Yeah, single. 

CRAWFORD: Or at least he didn’t say anything about a group or anything?

DARROCH: No, he said it was just a single Dolphin. 

CRAWFORD: Was the Dolphin doing anything to attack the shark back?

DARROCH: Not that I was told, no.

Copyright © 2017 Max Darroch and Steve Crawford