Page:The Visit of Charles Fraser to the Swan River in 1827.djvu/26

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estimated at less than 500 rise at once, exhibiting a spectacle which, if the size and color of the bird is taken into account, and the noise and rustling occasioned by the flapping of their wings previous to their rising, is quite unique in its kind. We frequently had from 12 to 15 of them in the boats, and the crews thought nothing of devouring eight roasted swans in a day.

"The animals are the same as in New South Wales—the kangaroo[1], emu, native dog, etc. Fish were abundant, and the Sound swarmed with tiger sharks[2].

"The few natives which we saw were not disposed to behave ill; on the contrary, they seemed much alarmed at first, but soon gained confidence. We gave them some black swans, which they eagerly accepted, and we dressed several of them in the old jackets of our marines. They had, indeed, a most ludicrous appearance, and seemed like men in shackles. It is worthy of remark that these savages have no means of navigation, and rather show a horror of the water. Their arms are the same as those of the natives of New South Wales, their clothing and appearance equally loathsome.

"The advantages which this country holds out to settlers above those in New South Wales—besides the important circumstance of its vicinity to India, the Spice Islands, Java, the Mauritius, and the Cape of Good Hope, and independent of its situation as a place of call for East India and China ships—are, in the first place: The great ease with which a settler can bring his land into cultivation, the forests averaging not more than eight to ten trees per acre;

  1. Kangaroos, emus, etc., after nearly eighty years' occupation, have naturally been driven further afield, and are still plentiful in some parts of Western Australia. Fish, also, are abundant, although the grounds have been heavily worked by Greeks and Italians for some years past, while the river itself has been almost denuded of its finny inhabitants by the reprehensible allowance of net-fishing. Another factor is the use of trawls for prawn-catching, the constant dragging over the bottom destroying the ground piscine food and disturbing their breeding-grounds. Amended legislation for the preservation of food fishes is urgently needed.
  2. Dr. Gunther says:— "The tiger shark (Stegostoma tigrinum) is one of the commonest and handsomest sharks of the Indian Ocean. The ground color is a brownish yellow, and the whole fish is ornamented with black or brown transverse bands or rounded spots. It is a littoral species, but adult specimens, which are from 10 to 15 feet long, are not rarely met far from land. It is easily recognised by its enormously long blade-like tail, which is half as long as the whole fish." At Sydney the carpet shark, or wobbegong (Crossorhinus barbatus), is often erroneously called the tiger shark; and, as the fish are still to be found at Rottnest, it is possible Fraser meant these, and not the true tiger shark of the Indian Ocean. The French also noted the very large number of sharks that hung round their ship off Rottnest in 1801. They are far less plentiful now.