|Great Whites of Albany|
Copyright © 2003 Bob Fisher
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|Dated: 1st June 1972|
Location: Australia/Western Australia /South West/Cheynes Beach, Albany
|I took these photos of a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) around 1972 at the Cheynes Beach Whaling Station in Frenchman's Bay, near Albany, Western Australia.
Prior to it's closure in 1978, the Albany Whaling Station was the last one operating in the country.
The Cheynes Beach Whaling Company operated three whale chasers and a spotter aircraft, which arrived on the continental shelf just after daylight each morning and hunted until dark. The continental shelf is only 20 to 30 miles offshore so the whale chasers were able to return to Albany harbour each evening and drop their catch at the whaling station on the way through. Processing of the whales commenced at 4 am the following morning.
The Great Whites followed the whale chasers in, it was easy feeding for them...
One of my photos shows a group of whales that are tied up to a bouy prior to processing. You can see three huge bite marks from a Great White shark, above the waterline along the side of one whale. I actually saw the Great White on the surface, with arched back, using it's tail (side to side) to push itself into the tied up whale in order to get a decent mouthfull.
I feel extremely privileged to have been there and witnessed these events and seen these magnificent creatures at such close range. We were in a boat 23 feet in length (a Chivers Safari) and we estimated this particular shark at 17 feet long. I will never foget how silent, gracefull and yet powerful these sharks are.
I remember over the course of that long weekend seeing one shark, while swimming on his side, rub his stomach along the entire length of the boat. In a different incident, another one grabbed the propeller in his mouth and shook the outdrive, causing the whole boat to rock.
We were fishing with a Penn 130 International with a 130lb class, bent-butt rod and had one solid hookup. We lost this shark when the base of the game-chair broke away from it's floor mountings during the fight. I can still remember the massive swirl of water when we first hooked this monster and he took off on his first run.
Thankfully, whaling is no longer carried out in Australia and Great Whites are now a protected species.
The Cheynes Beach Whaling Station has since been turned into a Whaling museum. You can find out more about it by visiting this link: www.whaleworld.org ... Bob Fisher