We encountered wild Grey Reef sharks galore. They even chewed on the diving platform. It was unique action at the time. Later we would realize that sharks elsewhere eventually settle down and adopt a different behavior.
At locations where no divers have been before you should expect territorial aggressive behavior.
Probably rare today and certainly not at dive resorts where sharks are virtually ‘trained’ and behave.
Film of those original encounters might be a surprise to many today.
Up top: Dr Don Ahern, JM Harding, Roy Bisson, Dr Colin Friendship, Liz Hen.
On the duckboard: John H Harding (with 16mm camera) , shark wrangler Dr Richard Ibara, Allan Murayama from Hawaii.
Valerie and Ron Taylor took this picture from their dinghy nearby.
Their 16mm film from the expedition featured (Taylor’s Innerspace) a search for the rare sea shell, a volute known to be found only here and worth thousands of dollars at the time.
However it was the shark action which proved more entertaining.
Shark wrangler and marine biologist, Richard Ibara used fish baits to attract sharks into the shallows.
In one scene we see where he grabs a live Grey Reef shark by the tail (when the shark had it’s mouth firmly secured to a fish) and hauled the shark onto a reef.
It remained there for a few moments, just long enough for this unusual film sequence to be recorded. Kids seeing it in the cinemas.
The late Alby Ziebell, last owner-captain of Coralita
Hitchhiker was a temporary solution for Alby while a new boat, larger than Coralita was being built especially. The outcome was not good. The builder filed for bankruptcy and everything was lost. A tragedy in many ways.
Alby was an excellent international charter boat skipper and diver. His underwater photography in a short time equaled or surpassed the best.
Years of professional abalone diving in Tasmania gave him an edge in fine tuning and perfecting his business, with the help of wife Irene who ran the office. A skilled diplomat for divers.
A plan to expand diving charter horizons to New Guinea waters was the beginning of the end…..
Coralita sank in Cairns Harbour just days before the first scheduled departure. Nobody was injured.
August 11, 2010 Coralita was purchased as a wreck by Cocky Watkins of Cardwell for the price of one thousand dollars at auction, later temporarily renamed Alita then sold and renamed Bell Cay.
News item today indicates the vessel has come to grief in The Swain Reefs (250 km offshore) with over 20 people aboard. All have been rescued after treading water for some time.
27 February 2011. Bell Cay is said (Ref. Alexander Muller, professional fisherman) to have broken up and washed ashore in the Mackay area of the Queensland coast.