The Provisional Peoples' Democratic
Republic of Diego Garcia's
Hook, Line, and Sinker Division Presents:
Many thanks to George Wilson for this scan of the famous photo of Hector. The boat is 28' long (as I remember), which puts Hector at about 26' long. This picture was taken just off the old liberty pier at the Seaman's Club. The photo is from the late 70s or early 80s.
And here are photos provided by Vernon Wong! Vernon spent many years on DG, and collected great photos.
First the bait, then the results! Old Hector could have swallowed a fat man whole....
Read below to learn the real story of these
From: Anthony Pallace <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 22 June 2006
The photos accredited to Vernon Wong, of Hector and his bait, were taken by me, Tony Pallace. I have the originals and a few more. I was the Leading Writer on the Island between October 79 and November 80. My job was “gopher” to the Britrep (US equivalent being the Yeoman).
On the day in question (I can’t remember exactly when, but maybe around Feb-may 80) a half dozen of us ‘Brits’ took a boat out for a days fishing and Coors drinking. We caught the original shark (which is obviously not a hammerhead), pulled it onboard and “gaffed” it a few times to draw blood. I took a photo of this shark with my foot in its mouth to show dimension (about 4-5 feet long), I also took the photo you see, which shows the cut marks we made in order to attract other sharks. We then tied a rope around its tail in order to trawl it and see what we could see.
It wasn’t long before someone shouted “what the hell is that” as a giant dark shadow appeared near the bait. There was terrific excitement on the boat when the shadow emerged as Hector the Hammerhead. He serenely took the ‘bait’ by swallowing it nearly whole, unconcerned that he was only a few feet from the back of the boat. (He was unconcerned but a few of us were a little apprehensive as we had obviously never seen anything like it in our lives).
The amazing thing was that Hector stayed with us, circling around the back of the boat, long enough not only for the photos to be taken, but also for one of the guys to be able to “gaff” Hector with a hooked spike tied to a couple of small buoys. After a few minutes we were able to track Hector’s movements for a while as the buoys were pulled along the surface at speed, creating their own spray as Hector sped off (I kid you not it was shades of “Jaws” and an absolutely fantastic sight).
After a short while the buoys completely disappeared underwater. It was a few more minutes later, after scanning the area, when the buoys erupted into the air and settled on the surface a distance away. The spike had obviously worked loose as we recovered the buoys with no further sight of the magnificent Hector.
Once developed, my photos became hugely sought after and I was able to give copies to most who asked for them, including the Britrep and the American OC. I was surprised and delighted to see my photos on your website and more than happy to validate them. We estimated Hector at the time to be about 23ft long.
Hope this clears up some of the myths,
(still in the Royal Navy)
From: Alan Saltonstall <email@example.com>
Date: 7 Sep 2007
I was facinated to visit the site and find and old shipmate of mine Tony Pallace reciting the adventure of our days fishing. I can confirm and authentictate Tonys tale as I am the one in the red shorts on the boat. The other lads were Jim Laden, Ray Bateman, Pusser Hill, Vince and me, Salty Saltonstall. I am sorry if I missed anyone out. The times in 79 - 80 were fantastic and we had a rather eccentric Brit xo called Bernie "the beast" Bruen. He was an excellent boxer and never lost a golden gloves contest during his time. I did enter the golden gloves and my first three fights were TKOs then I won one. We had a great time working at the power plant with our US comrades and some of their stories I relate to. There were some great times at the Ship Inn. Hello Ginge Howard, Screwy Driver, Fletch, Jed Stone, Bamber Gascoigne and all. I did return as the Senior Customs and Immigration Officer in 1998-99 and thoroughly enjoyed my tour but this time it was too commercialised and the BIOT and Britrep (big chip on little shoulders) went out of their way to disrupt the pleasure of making full use of Diego Garcia as a fun place to be. This tour was different but I met some great people Nick Wakem who remains a great friend and Big Murph - came from New York to my wedding in 2001 - a great guy. We were the ones who built and constructed the new Brit club to completion and I hope you all enjoy the beers on the beach.
Any person who relates to this story are more than happy to contact me. Thanks and bye.
HERE ARE TONY'S ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:
Of course Hector has achieved myth status, and perhaps what they say is not true???
Chris Kelley was there and says it was true:
From: Chris Kelley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
28 Feb 2008
What a great thing it was to see you have Hector on the web.
I believe that the photo that George Wilson scanned for you is one taken in November, 1980 from the fantail of the USS Puget Sound AD-38 by the fantail watch or someone with him. We were stationed there in the Fall / Winter of 1980 to relieve the Dixon. I actually saw a hard copy of this when our Master Diver Chester Stanley showed it to us. He was so proud of it he would not share copies.
The British customs officials at the time had lots of anecdotal stories about him and told us that British and American sailors from WWII has seen or heard of Hector during the war; which made him quite old in 1980. In a 1970s / 80s book called "Shark!" the author insisted hammerheads got no longer than nine (or thirteen?) feet long. I forget which, but after having seen Hector, I was sure wishing there was a way to tell the author about the Diego Garcia shark.
One thing that struck me was the British stationed there told us they had no record of Hector killing or maiming any man. Funny, the British told us not to swim in the lagoon; the Americans told us not to swim in the open seas - or was it the other way around? Anyway, we swam in both!
I have a neat photo of some WWII guns on the beach where we swam. I'll send them from home as work won't send e-mails larger than a certain size.
The reason swimming in the open ocean was frowned on were the black tip reef sharks that populated the black coral reefs on the slopes about 60-90 feet down. I guess they were worried the sharks would wander up for a nice bite of calf meat.
At the time we were there, there were mostly crazed Sea Bees, chickens and donkeys - and an army of coconut crabs. Sleeping in the open screened huts on the [then scarcely populated and untainted] island was a lifetime experience. I wondered then at the future when Hilton or the Sheraton would ruin the island, or civilians from the PI would move there. Later, last decade, I saw an Air Force film showing PI civilians and barracks and enlisted quarters and...ugh! I am so glad I got to see the place before that mess.
Thank you for having this site on the INet!
Chris Kelley, PE
Professional Engineer / Hydraulic Specialist
Former MM2/DV, R5 Division Dive Locker
USS PUGET SOUND, AD-38
Eddie Turnipseed has this to add:
1983 and 1984 (see his entire warstory on the 1983 page)
NAME = Eddie T.
MY QUEST = To follow the Bald Eagle
VT of a SWALLOW = 11 meters per second, or 24 mph.
E-MAIL = email@example.com
NATIONALITY = American
SERVICE = Navy
UNIT = USSOCOM
RANK/RATE/JOB = Operation Specialist
... I want to talk about a Hammerhead named Hector. I was up on the bridge one day on watch chatting with my CO. I looked down on the starboard side and saw a young whale approaching the ship. It rammed it's head into the bow about three times. I said ' Wow! Look!! There is a whale by us. It must be a young one. Maybe it's sick or lost from it's mom. Hey!! It is bumping the ship with it's head'. At that time a guy on watch with me looks through a sent of binoculars and said 'Damn. Shit!! That's a shark'!! So I went down and up to the bow as fast as I could and watched this monster swim for about a bit and then it left. Somebody near me had a camera and took some photos. We think it was about 25 ½ to 27 feet long. Now when I get to the island (as mentioned above) I went on a tour and went fishing and went diving. I saw some of the boats you could rent out that had some bit marks in them. I got a few photos and if I ever find all my Navy stuff I will add them to this site. I saw a boat that had the motor chomped on and was pulled off by Hector. Now, these are stories I am getting from the locals (military) and they really believe Hector is the one that goes after anything that moves. This is his territory and don't mess with him. I heard of guys who claimed the have gaffed him once or twice and he holds a grudge for all of this. Maybe so? I anybody has been there after '86 let us know if you heard of stories of Hector. I want to know if he lived a long life. They can live up to 40 years and some have bee known to live up to 50 years...
If anyone has any other photos, please send them to me and I'll get them on this page.
Visit the Rest of The PPDRDG by Returning to the Site Map and Picking Another Page!
Want to use something from this site?
See the TERMS OF
This, and everything else I write and every photo I produce is copyrighted by Ted A. Morris, Jr.