It’s a wonder that I took up scuba diving at all after having seen the movie “Jaws” once or twice at that stage. I decided to take up diving after buying the book “The Skindiver’s Underwater World” by Graeme R Dodd, even though there was a chapter about sharks in the book.
In 1978, I was lucky to see a small stingray on my first sea dive, which happened to be my certificate test dive at Port Noarlunga. Six weeks later, my 4th dive was to be a club night dive at Glenelg jetty. I was buddied up with a 14-year old boy who, like myself, was doing his first night dive. Although that is another story in itself, I mention this because that boy had a fascination with sharks (at the time).
He was on some of the other club dives that I did that year. We were planning to do a couple of dives together by the end of the year. He showed my wife and I his many shark posters in his bedroom. I asked him why, as a diver, he was so fascinated with sharks. He probably just told me that he loved them. This probably planted a seed in my mind at the time.
The movie “The Deep” had came out in 1977. I may have seen in in 1978, or soon after, having already started scuba diving. It was mostly about wreck diving, but there was some good shark action in the movie.
I didn’t see many sharks during my early diving years at all. The only reference to sharks that I can find in my first log book (1978 – 1984) is the sighting of a cat shark at fishery Beach in 1979.
I recall one of our club members rescuing a Port Jackson shark, that had been hooked on a fishing line, in the water at The Bluff. I think that I saw another club member rescue another (Port Jackson?) shark tangled up in some fishing line at Wallaroo jetty.
I recall seeing a catshark amongst some scaberia algae. My buddy and I moved in for a closer inspection. It suddenly reared up at us, sending my female buddy stumbling backwards. I photographed this catshark in the swirly shallows at Second Valley: –
I recall having to leave the water whilst snorkelling a couple of times due to shark sightings. A helicopter was warning me about a shark on one of those occasions. My wife called me out on the other occasion because she had seen some big splashes nearby.
I got to see a shark whilst snorkelling on another occasion. It was a ‘real’ shark of some kind, but it was just resting under a ledge in shallow water. I was able to scramble on to a rock and inspect it from close range.
I have visited several public aquariums over the years. The sharks never fail to fascinate me. When I visited Sydney in 2005, I went to both the Sydney Aquarium and the one at Manly too.
I wasn’t able to do a shark dive in the Sydney Aquarium, but I could do one in the Manly Aquarium. We were treated to the theme from “Jaws” as part of our preparation for the dive. Diving with large grey nurse sharks, wobbegongs and stingrays, including one monstrous (3m-wide) ray, there was great. There were also large sea turtles, which you had to avoid from swimming towards you because they don’t have brakes at all.
I got to do a couple of shark dives in the “Below Decks” aquarium at Granite Island, Victor Harbor. These were in 2002 & 2003. The vis was poor for both of these dives, but better on the second dive.
I often have to explain to people that we swam inside the cage with sharks (or the sharks were in the cage with us). The vis on the first dive was described as ‘rotten’. Photography was impossible on that dive. It was only just possible on the second dive.
This is one of the disappointing photos in question from that second dive: –
There were several species of sharks in the cage with us, including bronze whalers, wobbegongs, Port Jacksons and a 7-gilled shark. There were also stingrays and fish such as sweep and a long-snouted boarfish.
I will never forget the experience of having a bronze whaler swim towards me out of the gloom and then turning to see it disappear behind me, something that happened several times on that first murky dive.
I recall going for a boat dive at the Glenelg Tyre reef in very rough seas in 2005. My mask strap broke in two places on the surface, and I had to abandon the dive. This may have been somewhat fortunate because a diver was killed by a shark in that same location just ten days later.
I was doing a second dive on the Yorke Peninsula in 2008, using the same air fill in my dive cylinder. These were Reef Life Surveys training dives. I finished this second dive after one hour in the water. When I returned back to the jetty after changing, all of the other divers were back on the jetty talking about the white pointer that had bothered one of the dive teams towards the outer end of the jetty.
No harm was done to the divers, they were mostly just shaken up by the shark. I was a bit disappointed to have missed out on the experience of seeing a great white under those circumstances. I was even more disappointed to find out that neither of the team had taken any photographs of the shark. The other disappointment was that nobody was prepared to dive at the jetty again during that trip.
I have, of course, seen many Port Jackson sharks, cat sharks and wobbegongs over the past 43 years of diving. I have also witnessed Port Jackson shark breeding aggregations several times.
One of my best dives was accompanying Carl Charter at Port Noarlunga jetty whilst he filmed the numerous baby Port Jackson sharks that had aggregated out in the open.
I have also seen several ‘shark’ movies, and I now have a good collection of ‘shark’ DVDs and books. I have attended several ‘shark’ talks by people such as Rodney & Andrew Fox, Charlie Huveneers and Eric Kotz. Eric self-published “The Jawsome Coast – A Social History of Australia’s Southern Coastline and the Effect on it of the Great White Shark, its Conservation ‘Industry’ and Shark Tourism” in 2016. I wrote about Eric and his book in Tumby Bay author, Eric Kotz.
I have visited the Rodney Fox shark museum or displays a couple of times. A new Rodney Fox shark museum is due to open any time soon.
I am in several shark Facebook groups. The most important of these is Supporting Sharks and Rays in SA. “This group is an educational page about the shark and ray fauna of South Australia. It has arisen from the concern expressed by members of the diving and fishing community since 2013, about deliberate harm to sharks and rays in South Australia. Such harm is being done by some individuals who are engaged in jetty fishing and boat fishing, and photographic examples have been documented over several years, from various parts of South Australia.
“If you value the sharks and rays of SA, please share this page with your friends. Post photos, dates and locations of any examples you see of sharks and rays which have been killed unnecessarily.
“Educational posts about shark and ray biology, ecology, habitats and fisheries will also be posted here.”
I have seen dead shark and ray carcasses over the years. The worst discovery was possibly the large bronze whaler carcass on the rocks at Second Valley.
I once kept records documenting shark attacks, especially those in SA waters. This led to the publishing of my article titled “Some Facts About Shark Attacks on SA Scuba Divers” in the May 2007 issue of Dive Log magazine.
My shark dive in the Manly Aquarium in 2005 was reported in both the September & October 2005 issues of Dive Log. I wrote about Thresher sharks in the August 2008 issue of Dive Log. I wrote about shark protection in the October 2008 issue. I wrote about the Cousteau Society’s 1989 shark study in SA in the February 2010 issue of Dive Log.
Sharks have also been mentioned in several Scuba Divers Federation of SA newsletters which I wrote. Many of those were published in Dive Log magazine from December 2004 onwards.
I wrote about white pointer shark sightings at the Glenelg tyre reef in the January 2015 issue of Dive Log. My Dive Log article titled “My Week in Waikiki” in the October 2015 issue of Dive Log reminds me that I saw sharks in Hawaii, including white-tipped reef sharks, both in the sea and in an aquarium there. I wrote an article titled “Industry Proposal for Alternative Shark Cage Diving Sites” in the June 2015 issue of Dive Log.
This story is getting way more involved than what I had anticipated, but I want to press on with it. I had a good collection of shark books, but I donated most of them to our Society library at the Port Environment Centre: –
STEVE REYNOLDS COLLECTION
(Shark titles only)
“A Guide to Sharks and Rays” edited by Leighton Taylor
“Shark Attacks & adventures with Rodney Fox” by Olaf Ruhen
“Shark Trouble” by Peter Benchley
“Shark Attack” by Mike Edmonds
“The Jaws of Death” by Xavier Maniguet
“Shark Hunters” by Ben Cropp
“Whale of a Shark” by Ben Cropp
“Big Fish” by Richard Ellis
“Sharks” by John McIntyre
“Diving with Sharks” by Jack Jackson
“Shark – A Photographer’s Story” by Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch
“Masters of the Oceans” by Michael Bright
“Sharks – Silent Hunters of the Deep” Reader’s Digest
“Sharks – Discover their Underwater World!”
“The Jawsome Coast” by Eric Kotz
“National Geographic Vol.1, No.4, April 2000” – Inside the Great White – Great White Shark by Peter Benchley
There are other shark books in our library at the Centre, books such as: –
“Sharks and other predatory fish of Australia” (Peter Goadby) 1963 – mlssa No.1046
“Sharks & Rays of South Eastern Australia” (Janine Baker) – mlssa No.1086
“Men and Sharks” by Hans Hass – mlssa No.1098
SAM POWRIE COLLECTION
“Sharks” edited by John D. Stevens
“The SHARK: Splendid Savage of the Sea” by Jacques-Yves Cousteau & Philippe Cousteau
VIDEOS, CDs, DVDs & Floppy Disks (8000 series)
Grey Nurse Shark protection lobbying CD – mlssa No. 8004
Grey Nurse Shark protection lobbying DVD – mlssa No. 8005
“What You Should Know About Great White Sharks” CD by Phil Kemp – mlssa No. 8029
“Ultimate Shark” (National Geographic) DVD – mlssa No. 8039
I had helped to edit the “What You Should Know About Great White Sharks” CD by Phil Kemp (mlssa No. 8029) and publish a draft version of it in our 2006 Journal.
I am currently only left with just a couple of shark books at home: –
“The Nature Companions Sharks and Whales”
“Valerie Taylor – An Adventurous Life”
I wrote a series of articles about shark and ray breeding and egg cases in our Society newsletter between January 1985 and February 1993. These were culminated in a Journal article titled “The Breeding of Sharks, Stingrays and Skates” in 1993.
I have had my photo taken with a set of large shark jaws a couple of times.
I even get the odd shark birthday card from time to time: –
I enjoy the odd cartoon about sharks: –
This is Brutus, the 3m-long wobbegong that I met up-close in the Manly Aquarium in 2005: –
Here is a list of many of the shark articles that I have written for our website in recent years: –
I almost forgot to mention that, as far as I know, I am still the only person to have recorded having a wobbegong shark within my quadrat for Reef Watch monitoring!
I think that I can leave it there without having missed too much. There is just one full day left in this current lock-down in SA now.