24 May 2011

Special Dolphin Sighting

surfing wind waves_4
Playing in rough water off Bribie Island in Moreton Bay, I noticed a strange looking dolphin jump out of the water and flip onto its back not far from me. I quickly paddled over to have a closer look, but it had disappeared. There are at least 8 dolphin species recorded in Moreton Bay so it is not uncommon to see them when paddling in the area. However since the Brisbane floods, visible marine activity has been minimal so I was quite excited by the close sighting.

used with permission_Ken Douglas
A short time later, as we continued to play, the same thing happened again. This time Gnarlydog also saw the dolphin and pointed out that it wasn't a dolphin, but a shark approx 4 - 5 ft long. It was quite dark on top with a white belly. The obvious difference was the blunt or stubby head.

Bull shark in 1m water_Alkok_used with permission
I did not feel overly concerned as the shark showed very little interest in us and while some rolling was going on, we were mostly above water in our kayaks. We continued playing for another hour or more, the shark splashing occasionally before disappearing altogether. I was keen to find out what type of shark it was as I had never seen one jump out of the water like that, especially so close to us. I contacted shark expert Valerie Taylor to ask her opinion:

Shark Conservationist and Underwater Film Maker Valerie Taylor AM
You have just described an average shark. Nearly all have white or pale stomachs and are darker on top. The blunt head sounds like a bull shark and they will jump out of the water. I have seen it several times. Do not ever get in the water when the vis is down. Predatory sharks hunt by sight and vibration. Lacking hands, if they cant see something splashing around in the water they can and often do investigate the unusual by biting. You were quite safe in your kayak specially if staying still like a log. Female Bull sharks at this time of the year are swimming into the harbours and rivers to pup. They do this so the males don't eat the new born sharks. The baby sharks will stay in the inland waters until they are big enough to hold their own in the ocean.
Regards Valerie Taylor ***

Bull Shark_Delusion Productions_used with permission
***Interview with Valerie and Ron Taylor