Everything we do in life carries risks, even going for a drive. Wear your seatbelt, learn to be a defensive driver, and life goes on. Spearfishing has risks too, but they are manageable.
A lot of people ask, “What about sharks?” I tell them, “Sharks are like dogs. The vast majority are not a threat. In fact, it’s a privilege to see them in the water. You should enjoy the sight!”
Unlike the Jaws movie era, most people now understand that sharks are not mindless monsters. They are beautiful creatures, and there’s many sightseeing opportunities for tourists and photographers.
On the other hand, when you are spearfishing, you don’t want to be too cavalier and shoot fish in front of sharks. They are wild animals and should be respected. One should not spear in areas where shark feeding takes place or areas known to be “sharky.”
Fortunately, sharks don’t appear out of nowhere and start munching on your leg; that is not their nature. However, it is their nature to be attracted to wounded fish. The vibration attracts them even more than the blood. This is one of several reasons to strive for the killshot on your prey. If you do not achieve that, it is wise to dispatch and place your fish on the boat as quickly as possible. It’s also best to keep moving along. Don’t stay in one spot, especially in the Bahamas.
Assuming you’ve done everything possible to avoid an encounter, the next most important step is to dive with a buddy, stay aware, cover each other, and don’t stray too far from the boat. Bad situations tend to escalate gradually. If one diver maintains a watch while the other is dealing with their fish, you are less likely to have a surprise encounter. A good buddy will alert you, call the boat over, and make sure the fish is landed without incident. Sharks tend to make several passes before zeroing in on the target, so there should be plenty of time to land the fish before things escalate.
When a shark does show up, it’s important to not show fear or run away from them. Like dogs, they sense fear and will be more interested if you freak out. Stand your ground, face them, assume an aggressive posture and calmly exit the water.
Here’s a summary:
1. When spearing, avoid shark encounters as much as possible.
2. Try to get killshots or dispatch the fish quickly and put it on the boat. Don’t carry a stringer.
3. Move from spot to spot, even if you haven’t seen a shark.
4. Dive as a buddy team and look out for each other after shooting fish.
5. Keep the boat nearby so you can quickly unload fish and/or exit the water.
6. Do not give up the fish to a shark. That tends to escalate the situation.
7. Do not panic or run from a shark, face them with confidence, but exit when possible.
Happy Hunting and see you in the water!
by Sheri Daye
Sheri is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter, and producer of “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram.