Raine Island - Nature's Cradle on the Edge of the Coral Sea
Satellite Web Cast From Turtle Heaven and Hell
Journal Entry - 02- 02 - 03
Another Shark Tagged!
Mother Nature again showed how fickle she can be. Last evening the wind shifted to the northwest and began to blow. It built to 20 knots from nothing in the late afternoon, blowing white caps across the surface of the water and giving those of us in the forward cabin our now familiar wave symphony. We went to bed fully expecting to awake to a full storm. Instead the situation reversed itself. The sun rose on a perfectly clear sky and there wasn't a wisp of wind all day. It was one of those post card days in which the clouds are reflected on the surface of the ocean - a glass -out.

One of the many turtles to be found resting on the reef. This one near the vertical wall.
It is ironic that on such a beautiful day we hear such sad news about the shuttle tragedy. Here we are lost on the outer reaches of the Great Barrier Reef and it became important for us to know what happened. I suppose our interest was in some way tied to the fact that the shuttle mission was science related rather than associated with politics or the new world order. No interest in those subjects here.

We started baiting for tiger sharks early to take advantage of the high tide. Of course nothing happened for hours so Richard and I finally decided to go for a wall dive. I didn't expect to see as many turtle as we did but I guess with some 700 odd turtles a night still coming ashore they are still here to be found. As we motored over to the dive site in the zodiac it was a thrill to look down in to the deep blue clear water and see six or seven turtles at the same time under the boat. There were also turtles present throughout the dive through they remain wary and difficult to approach.

A white tip reef shark which turned in for a quick look and a faster exit.
We returned an hour and half later to be told that something large had hit one of the baits and left the scene. Disappointing!

An hour later just after lunch I was on the bow looking out at the island and saw a tiger sharks dorsal and caudal fin break the surface a few hundred meters away - easy when the water is so flat. Of course, when others arrived to watch it was gone... for a few minutes. It resurfaced again and then one more time heading straight for the boat. Not fifteen minutes after I first saw the shark on the surface one of our bait floats stood upright and then went completely underwater. The tiger had taken the bait. Another fifteen minutes, and the shark was ready to be measured and have the satellite transmitter attached. It was a 2.9 meter male. The same male we watched feeding on the floating turtle yesterday. He was recognizable by a recent wound on his left side at his slits .

Richard attaching the satellite transmiter to the sharks dorsal fin.
The team made quick work of taking measurements, gathering a tissue sample, and attaching the satellite transmitter. Cameras of many different types - motion and still - documented the event from most angles.

All that was left to do was swim the shark to freedom - ensuring he accepted the transmitter and swam away strongly after his period of restraint. But this fish had no problems at all. As soon as the restraining lines began to loosen he started to writhe trying to swim out of his remaining restraints. We released the lines and swam him down away from the surface, finally watching him stroke powerfully away from us at 60 feet. They are beautiful and powerful fish ...when they are calmly swimming away from you. I am sure their appearance changes quality when they swim at you aggressively. Don't want to be there.

In the zodiac, on a glass -out day, headed for the dive site.
We have one satellite transmitter left and only a few days left at the island. Time is running short. We can only hope tomorrow is as nice a day and the sharks as willing.

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