11/28/04 — Outdoors with Gene Price

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Outdoors with Gene Price

By Gene Price
Published in Sports on November 28, 2004 8:14 AM

Swimmers saved by protective dolphins

Four swimmers, all lifeguards, were enjoying the water 100 yards off a New Zealand beach on October 30.

Suddenly they found themselves surrounded by a pod of dolphins.

Rob Howes, one of the lifeguards, said the dolphins herded them into a small area by swimming in circles around them.

"They pushed all four of us together by doing tight circles around us," explained Howes.

When he tried to swim away from the group, two large dolphins herded him back into the "corral." Then he saw it -- a nine-foot great white shark lurking just six feet from the circling dolphins!

The dolphins maintained the perimeter of defense for almost an hour before the shark left.

Over the years, stories have surfaced about dolphins coming to the aid of swimmers.

Orca Research says dolphins will attack sharks to protect themselves and their young. And that this protective instinct might explain what saved the New Zealand swimmers from attack.

Thanks, Flipper!

Hearings scheduled

Some regulation changes of potential interest will be proposed at Wildlife Commission hearings scheduled for January. In addition to proposals on the agenda, citizens will be given an opportunity to offer their suggestions and concerns on other matters.

Among items on the agenda will be requirements for testing imported waterforwl for diseases, prohibiting stocking of fish in inland streams without permits, setting a youth hunt day for turkeys and other issues.

The Wildlife Commission is the only agency that goes all over the state to receive public input before adopting regulations.

From time to time, we hear some grousing that citizen opinion is a waste of time because "the decisions already have been made." As a longtime Wildlife commissioner, I can assure you that is not the case. I have voted to go to public hearings on some proposals I personally opposed - but wanted to hear the views of others.

Not infrequently, those views have changed my opinion.

The hearings closests to our area will be at New Bern on Wednesday, January 26, and Nashville on Thursday, January 27. They will be held at the courthouses at 7 p.m.

It's always too something

My old buddy Jay Maxwell once complained that every time we went fishing or hunting it was "too something." If we went flounder-gigging, it was "too windy" or the water was "too stirred." Waterfowling? The weather always was "too pretty." We outdoors sportsmen are either too hard to please or too quick to seize on an excuse for failure.

But when we take our grandchildren fishing, excuses can be unacceptable. For our seven-year-old grandson Daniel, trolling for blues and Spanish mackerel can be too slow to the point of boredom. Offshore ventures are out of the question.

Daniel likes to catch fish. If not now, then soon! So at Beaufort, we "went to the bottom." Cut bait, light tackle, small hooks, high expectations.

And in the fall -- even in late November -- it's effective.

In less than an hour, drifting just inside the inlet, we had 18 to 24 keeper hogfish, sea mullet, "blow fish" and trout on three separate trips.

On a couple of occasions, Daniel reeled in two at the time. And some of the hogfish were the largest I have ever seen. And all -- including the "puffing adders" -- are excellent eating.


It's a pretty good alternative to bucking rough seas and poor chances of success when you're pushing 76 and your grandson wants mightily to "catch some fish."