McCoy sinks teeth into White Pointer, Prodromus
This is one of the largest and most ferocious of our Sharks, and so common as to be an object of great terror to bathers, who occasionally suffer grievous lacerations when caught swimming even near the shore, towards which the species approaches into unusually shallow water.
The common name of Shovel-nosed Shark is given by the bay fisherman often to this species from the outline of the head, seen from above, being like the point of an unworn American or paddocking shovel in size and shape.
Enormous jaws of this species may often be seen in the fisherman's huts along the shore from Picnic Point to Mordialloc, and are easily known by the length and slenderness of the teeth, which are very numerous, about an inch long, and set in three of four rows on the under jaw, and two rows on the upper one, making a fearful armature of spikes, the lacerated wound produced by which is almost always fatal. One or two small teeth are remarkable as intervening between the third and fourth large ones on each side.
It is a very active and voracious species driving shoals of fish before it in terror as it dashes along; and it is one of those which will occasionally dart out of the water at a piece of meat, or the oar of a boat, or a man's arm or leg.
The great quantity of fish fit for the table devoured by this species induced the Government a few year ago to place large sums on the estimates to prevent its increase, by offering a reward to the fisherman for each one killed according to its size; and for want of authentic figures of the different species to refer to, the authorities were ludicrously imposed upon by the fishermen bringing myriads of the harmless little blunt-toothed Dog-fish and other small species of Sharks, which they gravely presented as the young of this gigantic one, and got paid for, at so much a foot, to the amount of many hundreds of pounds.
Its geographical range is very great, extending to the Cape of Good Hope and to the American coast, where individuals are often found to have remains of men and clothing in them when cut up; and it is the commonest of the large sharks seen swimming round our bathing enclosures in Hobson's Bay.
- Frederick McCoy