Paul Gallen, the other shark, menaces surfers Surfers have made hand-drawn signs warning of a shark, nicknamed Paul Gallen. Picture: John Veage
The shark, nicknamed Paul Gallen, has been seen five times off Sandshoes surf break in two weeks. Picture: John Veage
Matt Mulder was surfing on Tuesday when the shark swam up to him. Picture: John Veage
Paul Gallen the shark is definitely not the captain of the Cronulla Sharks, pictured here with Greg Inglis. Picture: Getty Images
facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappPaul Gallen has been making a right nuisance of himself in Cronulla in recent weeks.
Just ask local surfer Matt Mulder, who was stunned when he had a close encounter with the brute in the water two days ago.
“He swam straight at us, and then at the last second, turned and started thrashing around,” Mr Mulder said.
“It definitely got the heart going. It was better than a coffee, put it that way.”
Perhaps we should clarify here: Gallen, in this instance, is not the hulking skipper of the Cronulla Sharks rugby league team, but the nickname locals have given to what is thought to be a juvenile great white shark that has been loitering recently around the surf break Sandshoes, on the southern tip of the Cronulla peninsula.
Local surfer Matt Mulder Surfers have made hand-drawn signs warning of a shark, nicknamed Paul Gallen. Photo: John Veage
Mr Mulder, a member of the Sandshoes Boardriders club, said he had been surfing at Sandshoes practically every day for the past 25 years, and had never before seen a shark there.
“The last two weeks is just unheard of,” he said.
On Tuesday about 7.40am, he and another surfer, Greg McKee, were sitting on their boards waiting for a wave, while Mr McKee’s 11-year-old son was paddling back out after catching a wave.
A pod of dolphins swam past. Mr McKee then saw what he thought might have been a shark fin, Mr Mulder said.
“At first I said, ‘No, I just saw dolphins,’ ” Mr Mulder said.
“He said, ‘No, over there.’
“I turned and saw probably a 20-25 centimetre fin pop up about five metres away from us. It swam straight at us, and then at the last second turned and thrashed.
“We turned around and caught the next wave in – we were lucky there was a wave there – and scrambled up the rocks.”
Mr Mulder made a sign that he taped to a post at the beach with brief details about what had happened, and alerted council lifeguards.
He said the first incident occurred about two weeks ago, when three surfers – including a young up-and-coming surfer – were in the water.
“The shark actually went right up to them and thrashed right in the middle of them,” Mr Mulder said, adding that those surfers also put up a sign at the beach.
“The next three days it was seen at the same time every morning, about 7.30am. It didn’t really come in close, it was just floating around at the back.”
The shark, nicknamed Paul Gallen, has been seen five times off Sandshoes surf break in two weeks. Photo: John Veage
Sandshoes is located near the mouth of the Port Hacking estuary, and recent heavy rain is thought to have caused fish to gather at the river mouth, possibly attracting the shark.
“The lifeguards seem to think it might be a juvenile great white, sort of a bit territorial, just hanging around,” Mr Mulder said.
“It seems to be about the same time every morning, between sort of 7am and 8am it seems to pop up.
“I told some mates who are game fisherman. They said if it’s a 20-centimetre fin, and it’s a baby great white or a bull shark, it’s probably around 2½ metres long. That’s big enough.”