“Get over here!!!” My words cut through the cloudless afternoon sky like the razor-sharp teeth in the hungry beasts below us. Plunging my face back into the water, I watched all three sharks circling and continue to jockey into position for another attempt at Mike’s grouper.
Only about six minutes before this moment, we shared the ocean with the sandbars and they weren’t a problem at all. Granted, any time you’re spearfishing and a large shark circles you about every 45 seconds, you pay attention. But it wasn’t until Mike motioned for my speargun that things got .... interesting.
We both hunt with Blacktip spearguns, but for some reason, the slide ring on Mike’s gun that converts it from a freeshaft to a line gun wasn’t fitting over the tip of his spear shaft. I knew he’d found a nice fish up under the ledge and needed to get him out when he motioned for me to give him my pink-handled speargun. We swapped guns, and I took up patrol, hovering about four feet above him while he went to work. I heard the gun go off and saw the commotion of dust and debris flying out and knew the fight was on. I surveyed the scene for company and all was clear. But was it?!?
As I turned back to check on Mike, I was shocked to see that a seven-foot sandbar had snuck in from behind both of us and was trying to get under the ledge with Mike, about six inches from his right shoulder! I screamed and jumped on the shark’s back, stabbing it and shooing it away. But he didn’t go far. He darted only a few feet away and came back in again for another charge at Mike. I cut him off with another jab and this time he veered off a bit further. I turned around to check on Mike again and he finally had the thrashing grouper in his hands, and to my dismay, another shark was coming up behind him, straight at his back. So, I charged at him too. It was all happening so fast!
I reached for the powerhead that I have mounted under the stock of my speargun and realized in a quick moment, “Shit! Mike is using my speargun!!” And here they came again. Jab! Poke! Jab! SHOVE! They were coming at us from all directions and one particularly pesky set of teeth started chewing on the end of my speargun while I was trying to stab at her! I was looking for a break in the action so I could swim to Mike and get the powerful protection we so desperately needed, but they just kept coming. And now there were three.
Mike and I have been dive buddies for several years and have discussed a going-up method that works for us: We face each other. “You watch what’s behind me, and I watch what’s behind you.” Ascending in this way allows us to be able to communicate if we need to. Massive amounts of trust are required to do this when you know you’re surrounded by aggressive sharks. We did the best we could and just dealt with the situation moment by moment. We were a committed team and neither one of us was backing down without a fight. Thankfully, it worked because we made it back to the boat with no injuries AND the fish!! Mike Abbott, I’ll be your dive buddy any day of the week, sir!!
Yesterday was filled with ALL sorts of adventure: Rough seas (it was supposed to be one foot or less and we had four to sixers!?) colder than anticipated water (can you say 71?!) Big lobsters and big red grouper (Wes Mead and Mike), big stringers (nice work Jason Thompson!) White squalls, lightning and storms, broken regulators (Tobin, I’ll be in the shop later today) and a slip-and-face smack at the boat ramp that almost required a trip to the emergency room.
This is my life. What a great day!!