Whales, Sharks and Dolphins – our companions in the surf
Every time I go for a surf, there are creatures (other than humans!) I am sharing the water with. A pod of dolphins leaping and squeaking and playing in the waves, a turtle flapping on the edge of the rocks – I’ve even had my first experience with a shark recently when I was paddling over the Tweed River to surf on the other side. It wasn’t bothered with me, but I did paddle the fastest I have ever paddled to get back to shore! Over the past weeks thousand of humpback whales gave been passing by for their annual migration. Even Migaloo, the great white whale, has graced our coastline. Usually we see them further out to see – a puff of water vapour near the horizon, or a waving flap of a flipper or sometimes the whole body launching out of the water – but sometimes these magnificent creatures are slowly passing just metres away (especially out at one of our favourite surf spots at Snapper Rocks). One young whale came too close a few weeks ago and was stranded on the beach just a few kilometres from where we live. We could see a massive crowd of people on the beach and decided we couldn’t really help but would maybe stress the whale even more. There is a local Seaworld rescue team here with lots of staff and equipment, who took control of the operation and luckily, after many tries, the whale was eventually rescued. The worst thing here on the Gold Coast is killing sharks because the government is scared they’ll attack humans. They do this by using baited drum lines or putting out nets to tangle them. The problem with this is that sometimes whales and dolphins get caught and die too. A baby humpback died in shark nets just a couple of weeks ago (http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/baby-humpback-whale-dies-in-shark-nets-off-bilinga/story-fnj94j0t-1226996463582) and another one was only just rescued a couple of days ago. It seems crazy. The only shark attacks here seem to be from the aggressive bull sharks that live in the river mouths – not in the ocean. Every surfer knows there are risks – but they are so small compared to the joy of catching those waves! Even ‘soul surfer’ Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack, overcame her fear to go back in the ocean and still thinks they are magnificent creatures.