February 2005 Shark Bytes
Posted on Monday, 28 February 2005
This is going to be a very short newsletter written by a very frustrated writer! We had a lot of shark trips planned this past month and were only able to undertake two due to bad weather and high winds. The water in the deep has been green and dirty, a far cry from the usual endless visibility and purple water. We did see a lot of blue sharks and this is always a highlight. On the last trip we had a fairly large blue shark of about 2 meters swimming around the boat. She was very curious with one of our guest’s fins which were yellow in color. This provided some exciting diving as the blue shark constantly tried to eat the fins!
Even activity in the treknets has been very low. We have not seen a single shark or ray the entire month. The water has been fairly cold and this could account for this.
We did however have something extremely exciting and unusual happen. At the beginning of Feb we were down at the treknets and while we were sitting in the car waiting for the fishermen to bring the net in Chris thought he saw 2 dolphin fins pop up. In over 800 treks that he has been to he has never seen a dolphin caught before. People often ask us if dolphins get caught in the nets and to be honest, even though it has not happened with us we would have thought that they would jump over the nets as the seals do. When we could clearly see that there were indeed two dolphins feeding in the net we still believed that they would have no problem in jumping free. The closer the net came to shore we realized that the dolphins were in trouble and had managed to get themselves caught in the very back of the net.
Now it seemed like a big job to get the sub-adult bottlenose dolphins out. We got the crew to keep the back part of the net in the shallow water and Chris climbed into the net to get them. Luckily a friend of ours was with us and along with the owner of the trek crew we had some helping hands.
The dolphins were incredibly stressed and the high pitched sonar sounds they were emitting were very disturbing. Although the injuries were only superficial, they were both bleeding from being cut in the net and one of the dolphin’s blow hole was covered by a plastic packet.
In no time the net had been opened and Chris & Brandon each handled a dolphin. They had to lift them slightly and then pull them along the shallow bottom before getting into deeper water. In the deeper water they still needed to be “swum”. This means that the guys had to push them along until the dolphins got going on their own. One was very disorientated and swam back into the shallow water but after the second attempt it seemed to find its way out to sea.
Once they were in the deeper water we lost sight of them. This probably sounds strange but it was a very emotional experience. Both Chris & Brandon said that the dolphins did not struggle at all with them and seemed to know that they were being helped. For me I think the distressing sounds that they were making brought home the fact that all the fish, sharks, rays etc all feel the same when in the net, they just can’t verbalize it. The owner of the crew, Chris, was also very emotional and said that he had never seen a dolphin before! He always helps us release the sharks and rays and I think he was also very proud to be able to help the dolphins.
I managed to take some photographs while all this was happening so please have a look on “Photo’s of the Month” if you wish to see them.
We are very much looking forward to a better month in March. We are heading up the coast again to dive with the Smooth hammerhead pups and bronze whaler sharks and then have about 15 pelagic shark trips planned as well.
I hope that the wind will die down and I can tell you all about some terrific sharks that we encountered!