Shark Nets

  • By Robin Barker
  • 14 Feb, 2017

For years a woman has been swimming across the bay at Bondi. Every morning at nine o’clock she dives in at the south end and swims to the boat ramp on the other side.

One morning, a serious man on a surf ski paddles out to warn her that there’s been a shark sighting.

To the woman this is a joke. She laughs at him and reminds him that the last person taken by a shark at Bondi was before the nets were installed in 1932.

The man, offended by her flippant response, paddles off in a huff.  

The woman continues swimming in her usual leisurely fashion. When she cruises in to the beach a turtle is lying lumped on the sand, its massive stony shell half-buried in seaweed. Waves wash in and out and pool around her. The turtle has a thick neck and a withered head. People gather around, laughing and pointing and aiming their cameras. The turtle looks pretty flat but every so often she sighs and tries to lift her head.  

Uniformed rangers arrive and place orange cones around the turtle to protect her privacy. Some Japanese tourists don’t understand and stand too close. One of the rangers speaks loudly and waves her arms around to encourage them to stay behind the circle of cones. Another is on his mobile to the vet at Taronga Park Zoo.

A leathery old man in ancient Speedos tries to explain to the Japanese tourists that a turtle landing on Bondi Beach is an unusual event.

Not for fifty years, he bellows in the faces of a young couple in matching sweaters.

They look puzzled but smile politely.

It’s those bloody shark nets, someone says, they should be banned.

The woman walks away. Her heart is troubled. She can see there is a problem but she’s unsure of the solution.

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