Two off-duty policemen got more than they bargained for when they went fishing at Port Hedland’s Spoilbank last week.
Ian Herbert and Steve Scott, both officers at South Hedland Police Station, had heard around the traps that an increasing number of sharks were being sighted off the coast. But with no boat at their disposal, the two coppers figured they’d try their luck from the shore.
“We rigged up a boat-rod style thing. We used a big slab of tuna hooked on with a wire trace, kayaked out about 100-150m to drop the bait … and just waited to see how we went,” Mr Herbert said. “It took off.”
Eighty minutes later and the two men had managed to drag their impressive catch ashore. The shark was released safely but not before the pair got a few happy snaps.
“Steve is from Scotland so he was excited,” Mr Herbert said. “It was the biggest fish he had ever seen or caught.”
Despite the part-time angler’s early guess that the 2m catch was a bull shark, Department of Fisheries senior shark research scientist Rory McAuley said it looked more like a pigeye.
“The photo’s a little ambiguous … I think it’s almost certainly a pigeye shark,” Dr McAuley said.
“It is definitely from the whaler shark family.”
Found predominantly in northern Australia and south-east Asia waters, the pigeye, also known as the Java shark, is understood to move closer to shore during the warmer months.
Fisheries North regional manager Peter Godfrey said commercial net fisherman who used to operate in the area reported seeing a number of pigeye sharks between October and April.