Soul living: Six men fight off huge shark

A big great white shark. Picture: PACIFICCOASTEXPLORERS.COM

If it took two hours for six grown men to fight off a shark while fishing – it was certainly a huge shark. S

ix men who had gone out for a fishing expedition on October 12, 1957, at the popular Sandbank Passage off Suva had a surprise when they had to in turn fight off a large shark while trying to hook in a saqa.

The shark which was known to Suva fishermen as the “gatekeeper” allegedly stayed in the vicinity of the Sandbank Passage. One of the six men, B.

Artack said the shark was more than 17 feet long, about three feet across and measured about 10 feet around the girth.

He said the shark was “shaped like a carrot” with a broad frontal portion that tapered off to the tail. “The fun started when one of our party hooked a 12lb saqa. As he was pulling it in, the huge shark shot to the surface and took the fish cleanly, leaving only the head,” he said.

“I then baited and put out my 100lb breaking strain line and it wasn’t long before the shark took it.

“We played the shark for about two hours all six of us taking in turns and we then fastened the line to the bollard and let the monster pull the launch around.

“We also started to ‘jerk’ the line and this must have tired him because after making several rushes in various directions he surfaced and lay quite still.”

Mr Artack said the launch drew alongside the shark and the occupants were able to make out its huge size. Getting it on board, however, was out of the question.

“We would have needed nothing less than a wharf crane,” he said.

The line was therefore cut and the shark slowly recovered and moved away into the night.

He said he had travelled extensively around the Pacific in the old trading ship Beulah and had seen many sharks but that one was the biggest he had ever seen.

Mr Artack said he understood that another Suva fisherman some time ago had had his 400lb breaking strain line snapped by some huge fish in Sandbank Passage which might have been the “gatekeeper” too.

The story of the six men fighting the “gatekeeper” was published in The Fiji Times on Thursday, October 17, 1957.

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