Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Day we Rescued a Shark!

One winter day when the boys were young we decided to do the walk from Coogee to Clovely beach. There's a lovely wide path there that only takes about half an hour to do. On one side you have a steep cliff going up to the houses, on the other side you have a steep cliff going down to the ocean. There's greenery on both sides. It's popular with tourists and joggers.

We set off late in the afternoon. Half way there we got to Gordon's Bay. It has a wooden staircase leading to a tiny beach where fishermen launch their boats. Usually it reeks of seaweed but this time it was fine. We decided that because it was low tide, and to make the trip more interesting, we'd clamber over the rocks from there to get to Clovelly. My eldest was only four but full of energy and this was just the kind of thing he enjoyed. My youngest was only one so I had him in a backpack. That was good because that way I had two hands free to help me climb over any tricky bits.

Anyway, me, my husband and the children were having a great time. My eldest especially enjoyed looking for rock pools and crabs along the way. About half way there he called out to us from way up high. He said he'd found a fish. We clambered up to check it out. In reality it was a Port Jackson shark! It was big, it was alive and and it was gasping. I wondered how on earth it got up there. We looked around. The place was deserted- though there was a pile of old rags nearby. We figured they and the shark had been washed up there by the tide, though we had no idea the tide got THAT high!

Anyway, I felt sorry for the poor thing and urged my husband to put it in the ocean. He was reluctant but said he'd give it a go. Gingerly he grabbed it by the tail and held it up. There were only a few inches of clearance between my husband's sandaled feet and the shark's long teeth. He slowly made his way down. Keeping the teeth from touching him was hard enough, but then he also had to maneuver onto a tricky set of rocks that got more and more slippery as he got closer to the water. Several times he wanted to give up but the kids and I begged him to keep going. In the end he made it and let the shark go. It swam away out of sight. The kids and I gave a huge cheer. We were heroes! We'd rescued a shark!

We were all talking excitedly about this until this thin, scary looking man covered in tattoos passed us headed in the direction of where we'd found the shark. He had a fishing rod in his hand. It occurred to me that maybe there was another explanation as to how the shark got up there. I felt bad. That was probably his dinner! Then I got scared. What would he do to us when he found out what we'd done to his catch? He'd know it was us because there was no one else around. That scared me even more.

In a panic, I told the others we had to get away from there as quickly as possible. I found a path and led the way. Unfortunately we hit a dead end. We couldn't stay because the tide was rising and it was getting dark. There were no other options- we had to go back!

We retraced our steps and snuck back past the fisherman, who was searching the clifftops. He seemed puzzled. I figured it was only a matter of time before he figured out what happened. We jumping from one rock to another as quickly as we could all the way to Clovelly. This time my eldest led the way.(He never gets lost.) He didn't know what the rush was- he thought it was some kind of game! I was so relieved when we got there safely.

After that, all I wanted to do was go home. Unfortunately, our car was at Coogee, and my 4 year old was too tired to walk back, so my husband had to leave us there while he got it. The whole time I was waiting for him I was thinking “What if the fisherman meets him on the way?” “What if the fisherman comes our way?”

I took us to a bus stop so at least there'd be cars around. There weren't any. It got darker and darker. Finally, finally my husband showed up. We were safe. We'd survived our adventure!

To celebrate we went to the nearest restaurant, which just happened to be a fish and chips shop. We could have gone further but we thought this was appropriate. We could have any kind of fish we wanted, so naturally, we chose the Port Jackson Shark !

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