Great White Shark Attacks Kayak Fisherman
I got a phone call from a very shaken kayak fisherman who was recently harassed by a very large white pointer shark while fishing around 800 meters offshore on the east coast of Northland.
The white shark started it's relentless harassment of the kayak while the fisherman was hauling in a boat longline (yes it was one of ours) with fish on.
The great white was taking or mauling the fish on the longline right under the kayak as the line was being hauled in.
In a bit of a panic and keen to put some distance between himself and the agressive shark, the fisherman quickly cut away the longline
and accidentally sliced himself deeply above the knee in the process, this cut bled profusely.
The fisherman, obviously shocked by all this, then paddled very slowly away from the longline. Unfortunately, once the line was cut the shark shifted all of it's attention onto the kayak, it started by circling, and then bumping against the kayak.
the shark would submerge only to come up from the depths and bump into the kayak from below.
The fisherman then put all of his remaining bait and burley into a plastic bag and tossed it well away from the kayak in the hope that this would divert the sharks attention, it almost worked as the white pointer went over to investigate the cause of
the splash where the bait bag had landed, but to his horror it returned seconds later.
During the worst parts of the harrassment the fisherman was nearly knocked out of the kayak by the huge shark several times and had to put his legs over the side and into the water to regain balance.
He also vomited several times during the attack, probably due to the shock of being exposed to a serious and life threating situation for such an extended period of time.
In all the shark hit the kayak between 15 and 20 times with different parts of it's anatomy including the body, dorsal fin and tail.
When the fisherman was only 150 to 200 meters offshore the back of the kayak was hit violently and the stern momentarily went under. As soon as he had regained balance the fisherman poured on the power with the paddle and, as he reached the shallow
weed line near the rocks, he glanced over his shoulder to see the massive white pointer close behind, but veering away to avoid the reef.
What Sort of Shark Was It
The fisherman describes the shark as having a shiny, almost jet black top and very white undersides. He mentioned the pectoral fins and tail were huge and he was adamant the tail was positioned vertically on the shark (which rules out a killer whale
or other dolphin). He said the dorsal fin never rose higher than 300 to 400mm above the water although, as the back of the huge fish never broke the surface, it could have been longer.
He also noted the front of the head was flat and not pointed, this may rule out a white pointer, otherwise a great white would fit the rest of the description perfectly.
Ed : The shark has subsequently been identifed as most probably being a big female great white or white pointer by the shark experts at Kelly Tarltons Marine Aquarium.
How Big Was the Great White Shark
This white pointer was huge, on one pass at right angles and just under the center of the kayak the fisherman noted the width of the head was greater than the distance from the back of his seat to the front of his foot rests, his estimate is a meter
or more between the eyes.
On this pass the dorsal fin hit the kayak amidships and almost capsized it.
As for the length he noted that the shark tail extended "five to six feet" behind the stern of the kayak when the head of the shark was level with the front.
He said the kayak is "twelve and a half feet long" so the shark must have
been between 17' 6" to 18' 6' long or 5.33 to 5.64 meters!
Why Did the Shark Attack the Kayak
Struggling hooked fish is probably the most powerful shark attractant available.
Sharks can pick up vibrations from struggling fish from kilometers away almost instantly.
This is probably what brought the shark to the boat in the first place.
When the shark arrived it took some fish from the longline.
This very likely put it into a feeding mode, the added smell of blood in the water from the fish it had mauled would have probably kept it very interested in everything in the area.
Blood from the bait and burley thrown overboard, and any that was being washed off the deck of the kayak, plus the vomit and bleeding from the badly cut knee would have all added to the sharks curiousity in the kayak.
How to Minimize Risk
If you are kayak fishing with a longline, I would suggest baiting the line on shore, or at least have the bait cut up and in a waterproof container on the kayak, so that line setting times and bloody mess are minimised.
When hauling the line, do it as quickly as possible and iki or kill the fish as soon as they are landed, as the vibrations of a dying fish on deck will be amplifed by the hull.
Keep all fish and bait as well as any burley in leak proof containers. Doing this will make any blood and offal less likely to leak or wash over the side and possibly set up a burley trail leading straight to the kayak.
The massive shark stayed in the bay for a considerable time after the incident. The hapless fisherman watched the shark, along with about 40 other locals and holiday makers, from a nearby hill top. One of the visitors video taped the shark still circling
the area where the incident occurred. If anyone has photos or video we would appreciate a copy to go with this article.
Please contact us with any info you have regarding this shark attack on a kayak