The Boy & the Shark

If it hadn’t been for his mother, the boy would’ve missed the shark altogether.

Indeed, he would’ve been at home glued to his iPad.

It was Mum who’d dragged him off to the beach for a walk with the dogs, although he didn’t take much persuading. It’s just that while there’s that age-old bond between humans and their dogs; humans and the sea; electronics is a new but equally strong force.

Even being at the beach, the boy would’ve missed the shark if it wasn’t for his Mum. He’s a much faster walker.

By the time the fisherman went into battle, the boy was halfway down the beach.

Meanwhile, Mum was spellbound. Seeing the fishing rod bending right over and all his muscles flexed, I couldn’t wait to see what was on the line.  The fisherman  was strong, muscular and incredibly fit but that fish was still holding its own.  Had it been a gold fish, he could’ve plucked that fish straight out of the water. So, it had to be  one hell of a beast…a determined beast at that! It was fighting for its life and wasn’t giving up but the fisherman wasn’t giving up either.He was wrestling that fish with all his might.

Thinking back to Hemingway’s classic: The Old Man and the Sea, I found myself completely absorbed in the battle. I had to see what was fighting it out at the end of that line and how this mighty battle played out.

I had to get our son. He loves fishing and I knew how much he’d love to see this! He’d be riveted!

However, he’s a much faster walker and he was already halfway down the beach. Of course, I’m calling him and calling him but there’s absolutely no response. All I see is the back of his head moving further and further away. Why doesn’t he turn around? What is he thinking about? Is he absorbed by the scenery or lost in his dreams? How would I know? Oh! How often I’ve wished there was some kind of window so I could see inside his head?!!

He absolutely adores fishing and I can’t believe he’s missing out on the works. I keep calling and still only see the back of his head.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to run and I can’t see myself catching up without having a heart attack.

Besides, I can’t take my own eyes off this extraordinary battle between man and fish. There’s such tension. Not only in the line and the fisherman’s entire being but also curiosity! What is it? What type of fish? What’s going to happen? Is he actually going to land the fish before his line snaps? His rod breaks? Or, will this mighty fish actually escape and get away?

These are the great fishing unknowns. It’s inherent mystery.

Of course, there are no guarantees until that mighty fish finally lands on the beach. It’s been caught. So for now, that fish still belongs in the realm of dreams and fishing legends.

While I understand that catching fish is all part of fishing, I really don’t like the actual catching part… watching the fish gasping, taking its last breath. Personally, I’d rather throw it back. However, eating fish is no different to eating something neatly packaged from the supermarket. It’s just that we haven’t “prepared” it ourselves.

At last, I can make out the fish in the breakers. Its silver body is flapping like the clappers, twisting and turning struggling with every speck of its might.

What is it?

This is, of course, the burning question. After all, we all like to know what’s lurking in the deep where we go swimming. Although we know there are fish out there somewhere, we seldom see them. Moreover, on the rare occasions we’ve been fishing, we haven’t caught anything either. So, to be perfectly honest, I’m even a bit surprised that anything’s there.

The fisherman lands the fish and it’s lying there on the beach, wriggling, writhing and then it stops moving for a bit.

My goodness. Its silhouette is unmistakable.

It’s a shark!

For a moment, there’s that feeling of horror. A desire perhaps to rewind the last ten minutes and NOT find out what’s actually swimming at our beach.

After all, do you really want to know that you’ve been swimming with sharks?

Well, it’s only a baby shark…a Bronze Whaler weighing around 6-8 kg.

It couldn’t even take off your foot but I don’t think I’d like to find out. Moreover, I wouldn’t want to be a small dog swimming out there on dusk either. There are a few dogs swimming at the moment. Humph! All those tales weren’t just a dog beach legend, after all!

However, looking at the size of it, I doubted this shark travelled alone. That it had friends and indeed, there’s a school of sharks swimming around OUR BEACH!

!@#$%@#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yet, there was also that awe. I’ve never seen a live shark up close and I was mesmerised. This shark only had a small row of teeth, which seemed to retract. So rather than being a fearsome beast, it had a rather gummy smile, like it had forgotten to put its teeth in.

That’s when I noticed its frown. Of course, when you turn this frown around, you get a macabre kind of smile. Strange, the things you’ve never noticed before, which may not change the world but get you thinking…

Shark Smile2

Meanwhile, as I’m interacting with the shark, the lad is still walking away, almost reaching the other side of the rainbow. He hasn’t turned round once and he later assumed that I was right behind him. That said, he should have known I’d have been talking. That if there was silence, he should investigate. For all he knew, Mummy could’ve been abducted by aliens. Or, in this instance, eaten by a real live shark flapping on the beach!

Finally, he turns round. He’s too far away to hear me but I gesture for him to come back and made some sort of signal towards the fisherman.

He returns. However, this might not have been such a good thing, after all!

The boy can’t keep his hands off the shark. Even though it’s gasping for air and clearly not at home on land, it still hasn’t given up its will to live. As I said, this shark was a real fighter and while it’s been caught and dragged out of the sea, the battle isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot!

So, there’s my son standing there proudly holding a live shark as though he’d caught it himself. It’s an absolutely perfect, once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. I am the absolute Queen of photo opportunities BUT… of course, I don’t have my camera and my phone is as flat as a tack. In what has to be one of my biggest bloopers yet, I have no way of photographing this priceless moment. This is the very same person who takes photos in her sleep!

Pathetic!

However, I have no shame and ask the fisherman if he would mind taking a photo and emailing it to me. He’s very kind and through broken English we exchange details. Turns out he and his friend are visiting from Lithuania. Thought it was funny that it’s a visiting tourist who gives these Australians our first close-up view of a shark!

Of course, I was hoping that shark would be our last but the rod is bending over again and the tension is twice as great now that we know that another shark is on its way.

“Our friend” was not alone.

Trust me! I didn’t want to know!

xx Rowena

24 thoughts on “The Boy & the Shark

  1. Pingback: Shark Smile! | beyondtheflow

  2. Solveig

    Love your storytelling here Rowena.
    I have never come across a shark but I have seen dolphins and Pelicans which have got me all exited back then 🙂

  3. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much, Solveig. Have you ever read Hemingway’s “The Old Man & the Sea”? It is one of my father’s favourite books and he’s been recommending it succumbed about 2 years ago. I absolutely loved it and it had that theme of the fisherman vs the fish. What I noticed about fishing is the total suspense. Not knowing whether there are even any fish around and when you have a bite, there’s the excitement of what’s there. With modern technology, much of that suspense is lost.
    By the way, I’m sure I mentioned how I used to go walking with my son and he was the slow one holding us up finding things and now he’s the one charging ahead. Now, I’m slow! xx Rowena

  4. roweeee Post author

    Thank you, Joanne. I found writing about fishing really aligns well to storytelling. There’s so much mystery and suspense and the great unknown of what’s in the ocean.
    I did feel sorry for the shark. It was an incredible fighter.

  5. Nadia S. Dirbashi

    Your blogs are very inspirational and I love your writing. I hope you will live your life to the fullest and continue to do great things. You’re awesome!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Also, that is a cool looking shark!

  6. roweeee Post author

    Of course, I didn’t take that photo. Just my luck not to have my camera with me. I don’t take it down to the beach all that often due to the sand. Does terrible things to camera.
    I am still feeling the excitement of watching that guy wrestle with the shark. It was such a battle and given you had a 6-8 kg fish verses at least a 90kg man (have no idea how much he weighed but he was like a body builder) and yet that fish put up a formidable fight. I’d love to see that turned into a dance. It would be so intense!!!

  7. roweeee Post author

    You bet! xx Ro
    PS I just indulged on two prawn sandwiches. Even though we live on the coast, they’re a treat. Don’t know why. Well, my husband doesn’t eat seafood so that does dampen things a bit but the kids and my Mum love it. They tasted so good. Meanwhile, Bilbo has been in trouble with my husband for depositing presents in his work area. This he’s missing the kids and that;s what he calls a complaint to management. xx Ro

  8. New Journey

    Its hard on the fogs when the pack is not all together….after all your all there family…..poor Bilbo…tell hubby that he should feel important as Bilbo has seeked him out as the lead pack member to bribe…or show his frustration…LOL I don’t like seafood either but I love to cook it…its a fun protein to use…my husband is not a big eater of it, so I don’t get to cook it very often…LOL

  9. Pingback: Coffee By the Sea | beyondtheflow

  10. Léa

    While I have read several of Hemingway’s books, alas, that one was not among them. It is now on my list and I thank you. Great post! 🙂

  11. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Lea. I’ll have to read some of Hemingway’s other books, especially after loving The Old Man and The Sea so much.
    Hope you’re having a great week.
    xx Rowena

  12. roweeee Post author

    Thank you very much for your beautiful wishes, Nadia. Means the world to me to know people care and that my journey encourages others.
    The shark was pretty cool but it was on land…our domain and we weren’t swimming in the water…it’s domain.
    Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. I’ve had a glitch accessing some of my comments on WordPress.
    Hope you are having a great week,
    xx Rowena

  13. Minuscule Moments

    Rowena for some strange reason this year all up the coast sharks were making their presence known. From my visits way down in Merimbula to being on a beach at Tuross heads where they closed the beach due to a school of sharks close by. Then onto the Central Coast where my brothers surfing friend was bitten. And finally on a visit up the North Coast at Bonny Hills there were warnings of sharks being there too. Never in my years have I experienced that many sightings/warnings in one summer. I do feel sorry for that beautiful creature, the shark gets a bad rep because we humans choose to play in their feeding grounds.

  14. roweeee Post author

    It has been a bad season for shark sightings and attacks…particularly around Ballina.
    I’ve been thinking about my son having surfing lessons and was surprised when he really really didn’t want to learn. He was quite keen about a year ago and we bought a surfboard when we were on holidays in Byron Bay, which BTW, we’ve never used.
    Igree with what you say about the sharks. We’re the ones in their backyard but it would be nice to co-exist. If only we could have some sort of educational program for sharks…fish …not fish.

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