Men and Sharks

Oktober 13, 2008 in Sonder kategorie

1941

There were  not many signs of the war in Vienna as yet. We strolled the Kaertnerstrasse, met old friends, went to cafés, or drove out to drink new wine; the war had not yet brought many changes. People groused about this and that but this, too, was perfectly normal, because there is always grousing in Vienna; it was the proper and expected thing to do..

People in Vienna take an interest in cultural affairs  and in everything that goes on within their own four walls; as for the cannibals or the  coral fish or sunspots do, only a very small group cares at all.

“You don’t say! The West Indies? Hunting sharks? Really , under water?” People said. “Now that must have been really interesting.”  But nobody seemed to be interested.

To induce this second  thought, then, I went to Berlin, where I settled in a small pension in the Kaiserstrasse. By then there were air-raid warnings almost every night, and as  the pension was under the roof, on the fifth floor, the guests unanimously went down to the cellar the moment the sirens started. This taught me about the German sense of order.  As the attacks were light I stayed in bed and went through the same performance every night. The night clad congregation, well meaning, amiable, annoyed, and finally very annoyed , strove to bring me to my senses. In Vienna they would have said by the second evening, “Oh, all right, if he won’t, let a bomb get him!”

But times change, and we change with them. Not three weeks had passed when I was going down there with the others.

Because their sense of order had affected me?

Not at all.

Because I had contrived to sell our entire collection  of pictures to the Berlin Illustrierte. Because the largest paper in the German language planned to publish our experiences in five installments, and even give us a cover picture. Because nothing would have induced me not to be there when these reports hit the show windows of Vienna.

The  man  whose  hand I shook looked like a knotty oak, and there was something in his eyes that pleased me from the first.  A man  who loved nature and the great wide adventure of life, and went precisely the way that pleased him.

Just as he amazed me  with is remarks, I astounded him  when I talked about sharks and our habit of swimming among the creatures. He could not repress a smile. His manner made it quite evident that I need not try such fairy tales on an old fisherman like him.

‘SHARKS are always suspicious, and every shark will attack man if he is hungry or wounded or both….. Of the three species of shark that most frequently attack man, the striped tiger shark, the whale shark and the blue shark , the latter is the most dangerous” ( John D Craig, Danger is My Business.)

* Oorspronklik was Menschen und Haie in Switserland gepubliseer. Hass het Craig  se aanhaling na Duits vertaal, en  Men and Sharks is deur ‘n vertaler uit Duits na Engels vertaal.
 Vandaar die ooglopende fout met die spesies. Die whale shark of walvishaai is ‘n plankton vreter, Hass verwys eintlik hier na ‘n  “Whaler”, maw ‘n bronzie, die Koperhaai Carcaharinus brachyurus. Die  blue shark  waarna verwys word is ongetwyfled die “blue pointer” oftewel die Wit Haai , Carchorodon carcharias.

‘They are almost the only marine beasts of prey that really attack man and devour him’ ( Brehm, Life of Animals.)

‘I cannot , however, remember a single case where a mutilated shark was not immediately devoured by his brothers in great bites, tail first.’ ( William E Young, Shark! Shark!)

‘When we speak of their insatiability, this is to be taken literally. They are actually driven by a ravenousness that can never be satisfied.’ (Brehm, Life of Animals)

‘The jaws, provided with dagger -like teeth, are terrible cutting instruments’ ( H. Stelzner, Diving Technique)

In Griekeland  1941

Hans Hass  is 89 , woon vandag nog in Wene . Om in 1938 in die Karribiese see met haai te duik was ongehoord. Hierdie merkwaardige man  het sy 1941 ekspedisie in ‘n Duits besette Griekeland finansier deur lesings wat hy in Duitsland aangebied het, en aktief rondom die Griekse eilande gesoek na ‘n plek waar hy tussen haaie kon duik en verfilm.

In  die VSA in 1999 het  Jean-Michel Cousteau  ( Jaques se seun), tydens die oorhandiging van ‘n  toekenning  aan Hass  (op sy 80 ste verjaardig) een van d ie toesprake gemaak en erkenning verleen aan hierdie besondere  man.

Na die oorlog het die Russe, Hass se boot konfiskeer, maar hy het hom nie laat onderkry nie, en weer begin. Hy was die Franse  driemanskap , Dumas, Taillez en Cousteau vooruit, alhoewel Jaques Cousteau later baie suksesvol was met die Calypso ekspedisies.

Op skool het ek Hass sowel as Cousteau se boeke verslind, maar nie heeltemal geweet wat om te maak van die haai stories nie. Die  verskriklike aanval op Theo Klein by Buffelsbaai in April 1971  het ‘n geweldige impak op my gehad, die koerante en radio het dit wyd en syd rapporteer, maar die gogga het my reeds gebyt.  “Its a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied”

Dit is juis in hierdie tyd dat Danie Schoeman in die Strand begin haai vang, “Blue water white death” ‘n klassieke en defnitiewe dokumentêr begin draai in teaters, en word ‘n jaar of 2 later deur Jaws gevolg.

Danie Schoeman, Strand 1974, ‘n baie groot Wit Haai

Nou, met 1938 en 1941  in die verre verlede, dan kry mens net weer opnuut respek  vir die  ondernemingsgees , oorlogtyd in Nazi Duitsland, maar  Hass en sy maats gaan  duik en verfilm haaie in Griekeland…. En publiseer in 1948 , nadat die stof stadig aan begin lê, skaars 3 jaar na die oorlog, ‘n boek daaroor.  

Hans Hass in 2008 in sy studeerkamer

Frankryk 2001. Die laaste van die Franse driemanskap, kaptein Philippe Taillez , toe  96 sit voor in die middel. Regs van kom is Albert Franco, destydse bevelvoerder van die Calypso, en langs Franco sit Jaques Mayol, die vryduiker. Links sit Christian Petron, wat die onderwater tonele van Luc Besson se rolprent  ” Big Blue” geskiet het, losweg gebaseer op Mayol as hoofkarakter….. maar dit is vir ‘n ander dag. 

 
 

3 antwoorde op Men and Sharks

  1. Danie Schoeman was toevallig my klasonderwyser in Std 9, HHH in Somerset wes…heel aangename ou…

  2. Baie interresante inskrywing. Baie dankie…

  3. dit is nou interessante stukkie gewees , dankie petrus

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