Caught and Coloured: Zoology Illustrations from Colonial Victoria




A Disagreeable Manner

In 1873 the calm of bayside Brighton was broken by the persistent appearance of a Great White Shark with a fondness for nosing the iron bars of the ladies' sea baths. The resulting commotion continued until the stationmaster from nearby Brighton Beach Station took the situation in hand and captured the shark.

While photographic evidence confirms the shark's existence, McCoy may have slightly exaggerated some of the details in his description.

This gigantic Shark is by far the largest and most formidable of those approaching our shores, one specimen in the Museum being thirteen feet three inches long, and another between fifteen and sixteen feet long, and some having been killed upwards of thirty feet long.

Our two specimens were caught, one in July, 1873, and one in April, 1877, in Hobson's Bay, near Brighton. The larger had been observed for several days swimming round the ladies' baths, looking in though the picket fence in such a disagreeable manner that the station master had a strong hook and iron chain made so as to keep the rope out of reach of his teeth, and this, being baited with a large piece of pork, made to look as much like a piece of a lady as possible, was swallowed greedily; and then, with the aid of a crowd of helpers, the monster was got on shore.

On opening the stomach, amongst a load of partially digested objects, a large Newfoundland dog was found, with his collar on, identifying him as one lost the day before, no doubt swallowed when enjoying a swim in the comparatively shallow water in which the Shark was repeatedly seen and at last caught.


Historical Voices:
White Pointer
Capture of a shark at Brighton Pier, 14 May 1877.
White Pointer in Shark Case at the National Museum on University grounds.