Sharks scare the hell out of me. I know the odds of getting eaten so I don’t have to be told that you’re more likely to be killed by a lightning bolt. This fear is primordial so taking up kayaking might seem an odd thing to do. Anyway, every time I paddle I scan continuously for fins or shadows in the water. Paranoid? Damn straight! But then, the paranoid are just people with acute situational awareness.
So, Last week Owen and I were doing a routine paddle on the Lake with a view to exploring suitable sites for morning tea and some idle chat. We were in the southern reaches of Lake Macquarie, around Murray’s Beach when all of a sudden out of the water popped a grey dorsal fin much like a shark’s dorsal fin. The tell tale sign was the shark attached underneath it. In fact, from my paranoid studies on sharks and a knowledge of fin profiles I deduced this was a hammerhead about 1.5 to 2.0 meters long. It was cruising slowly to our port side about 10 meters off. Clear as a bell.
Now, you might think my first reaction would be panic but no! I was calm and excited about being so close. Owen’s first reaction was to turn about and follow it but by then it had slipped away. We were thrilled to bits with Owen announcing that after 59 years of water sports on the lake this was was the first shark he’d seen there. That thrill was short lived when he realized that he’d left his camera home. Owen is one of the best equipped paddlers there is so of all days to leave it he chose this one.
Morning tea left us preoccupied with our encounter so we made our return trip hopeful of catching the shark on his. We did and Owen was right on top of him. I pursued as well and got a good enough look to confirm likely size and species. Pleased with ourselves, we finished the trip conscious of the fact that this shark will no doubt grow a meter or so with each retelling.
That’s what I love about kayaking. The stories and adventures you accumulate. I told everyone at work but it’s not the same as sharing the experience with people who totally ‘get’ it.