Understanding the Apex

Part 2 - Dustin's story

By Dustin Hollick - Surfer + Writer + Filmmaker

Instagram @dustohollick

Photo: Matt Draper @mattdraperphotography

Photo: Matt Draper @mattdraperphotography

It felt weird to turn around and walk back up the beach with perfect waves rolling through un-ridden in the background. The back of my wetsuit was sweaty from standing on the hot sand for an abnormally long amount of time.

The helicopter hovering overhead had by far the best view of the whole scene. Confused beachgoers milling around the foreshore; a gravel car park full of spectators and two boats. An Aluminum runabout further out and smaller zodiac closer in just behind the breakers.

A deckhand on the small zodiac was throwing a very large baited hook out repeatedly to try and catch the shark that was causing the commotion. The mission was to tag and release. Within 10 minutes the shark was hooked and dragged out to deeper waters to be worked on. I wondered how they would get the hook out…

Even after the shark was hooked and dragged further out to sea I didn’t go out for a surf. And despite the fact I have been surfing regularly and trying to rely on my instincts to warn me of any pre-imminent danger, this was just the latest in a series of events that have caused me to ponder: “just what has changed?”

"...despite the fact I have been surfing regularly and trying to rely on my instincts to warn me of any pre-imminent danger, this was just the latest in a series of events that have caused me to ponder: just what has changed?” - Dustin Hollick. Photo: Angie Davis

"...despite the fact I have been surfing regularly and trying to rely on my instincts to warn me of any pre-imminent danger, this was just the latest in a series of events that have caused me to ponder: just what has changed?” - Dustin Hollick. Photo: Angie Davis

Of course there are plenty of sharks in the ocean, and yes the area we live in is abundant with marine life, what scientists call a “healthy” part of the ocean. So why, if there is abundant marine life in our corner of ocean here, are surfers, swimmers, and body-boarders suddenly on the menu? I don’t have the answers to this question but there are many theories being put forward.

Dustin at home, enjoying his time in the ocean. Photo: Angie Davis

Dustin at home, enjoying his time in the ocean. Photo: Angie Davis

Personally I will continue surfing, I surfed twice today, and I get too grumpy if I don’t surf. But until we get some answers as to why the sharks are trying to feed on us or about the oceanic climate changes, or until some preventative measures are put in place, I will not let my four and seven-year-old boys surf or swim in the ocean. I believe after my 25 plus years spent in our Earth’s marine environment I should be able to recognize any signs of danger and react in time; if not my life has been amazing and I have no regrets. But to see a young child get mauled would not be a good thing at all. It’s sad that the ocean in this area has lost its innocence for so many beach goers; I hope we find some solutions soon.

Dustin having a chat between sets with Kelly Slater at Ballina's Northwall Beach, location of the controversial eco shark net system that was set to be installed this month but has been delayed.

Dustin having a chat between sets with Kelly Slater at Ballina's Northwall Beach, location of the controversial eco shark net system that was set to be installed this month but has been delayed.

To be continued - Part 3 - Tadashi's attack from the eyes of Brooke Mason.

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