Sunday, December 7, 2008

Low Tide Lemon Shark


Sunrise three days running, just past the small shore break, during the low tide lull, small sharks were working where the turbid outflow was creating a ribbon-like line with the incoming clear tidal current. I cast a small popper when I saw their fins break the surface but they seemed intent on something else. Both Friday and Saturday were intense fishing, as schools of Trevally Caranx ignobilis, QueenFish Scomberoides commersonnianus and mackerel, were everywhere again feeding on small baitfish.

On Sunday, as I floated near the Lee Point rock outcrop, in fairly shallow water, a vortex spun my kayak around and as I peered over the starboard a fish about the size of a young horse was peering back at me. I didn’t have time to panic but as I assessed my situation I must admit I contemplated going in for the day.

I stayed out and not long after caught a Trevally which fought hard under the kayak. I expected it to be munched at any time and I brought it onto the deck as quick as possible as to not have a lurching shark try to grab it next to the kayak. I caught several more without any issues that I know about.

I saw the same or another similar sized shark 20 minutes later, but it seemed intent on heading in the opposite direction. I never saw its dorsal fin break the water, but I consistently saw smaller fins working the surface the rest of the low tide session. I also saw quite a few large rays in the cloudy outgoing tidal flow so I am thinking they were after specific prey which is still as yet unknown.

The shark I saw looked more bronze than this one. Local expert Dr Helen Larson of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, suggested it was perhaps a Lemon Shark Negaprion brevirostris. The shark I saw was more bronze than this one.

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