Blue Water Hunting and Freediving - Digital Version 1 - Page 157

dogtooth tuna
Jean Napier from South Africa with her 114.5-pound dogtooth tuna . Photo by Allan Ubsdell
spearfishermen and she was soon hooked on the sport as well . Diving in the South African National Championships four consecutive years , she always scored well , placing in the top half of the individuals competing .
In 1989 , Jean traveled to Inhaca Island off Mozambique , East Africa on a beautiful , hot , windless day . Once in the crystal-clear waters , she headed for a drop-off where she knew large shoals of fish congregated . Kicking strongly in the current , just to stay in place , she saw large reef fish — potato cod and brindle bass — but no big pelagic fish .
Returning to the boat hours later , she was amazed to see a lone dogtooth tunny ( South African for tuna ) swimming in eight meters of water just below the boat . “ I dove down to its level and made a good shot , midbody at very close range ,” she recalls . “ It took off at fair speed , heading straight for the bottom in 12 meters . I managed to hold it off the reef while playing
it gently , in order to avoid pulling the spear free . I surfaced , yelled for help , and took off at marathon speed trying to keep up with the fish and thus ease pressure on the float line . By this time I ’ d realized that this was a big fish and not to be lost at any cost .”
Jean ’ s friends arrived in an inflatable boat and followed her for another 10 minutes , spare gun ready . The struggling fish attracted a huge potato bass and another very big tunny . After another 10 minutes , the fish tired enough to pull it to the surface and load it into the inflatable . Amazingly , her spear was not bent , but the clip holding it had to be severed with wire cutters . “ We returned to the yacht and hauled it aboard with ropes ,” she remembers proudly . “ I had to cut it into four pieces to weigh it as our scale registered only 20 kilos . It weighed 52 kilos ( 114 pounds )— a record for me , a South African record and possibly a world record .”
Here is John Pengelly ’ s account of his record :
Greg Pickering holds up what ’ s left of a dogtooth tuna . Frequently found in the company of sharks , this is not an uncommon occurrence . Even fellow dogtooth tuna join the feast .
Photo by Gunther Pfrengle