Blue Water Hunting and Freediving - Digital Version 1 - Page 61

sharks stare blankly back at you , almost like a punchdrunk fighter — a vicious and dangerous one at that .”
Their unpredictability is aptly displayed in an incident Tim recalls while spearfishing on the Little Coral Reef at Leven Point , Zululand . Swimming on the surface almost shoulder-toshoulder with his friend , the late Noel Galli , a 2-meter zambezi shark approached very slowly , snaking along the reef 10 to 12 meters below . At no stage did it appear agitated or excited , and no one had yet speared any fish so the divers weren ’ t particularly concerned . When it was directly beneath them , it made a dramatic lightning back flip and tore at incredible speed straight up at Noel , whose gun was pointing in the shark ’ s direction . With a terrific impact , the shark impaled itself on Noel ’ s loaded spear and knocked him inches out of the water . “ I was a frightened spectator with the shark thrashing only a few feet away ,” Tom remembers . “ With a vicious shake the shark freed itself and sped to the bottom , where , to our amazement , it continued its slow snakelike progress across the top of the reef as if nothing had happened .”
Tim says the best defense to these sharks is to keep circling , using your speargun to make a buffer zone between you and the shark , and if necessary , using it as a shark-billie to prod it away . “ Should you encounter this shark ,” he suggests , “ do not shoot fish in its presence , and if possible , move to an alternate reef .”
A close relative to the zambezi , and just as mean , is the bull shark which inhabits Florida and Caribbean waters . One big bull almost swam off with the son of my friend Ron Schlusemeyer . While we were scouting for the 1966 Miami National Spearfishing Championships , my teammate Carl Krupansky and I traveled to Jupiter , Florida accepting Ron ’ s kind invitation to introduce us to subtropical spearfishing . It was not too long before we saw bull sharks gathering on the reef . Ron and his buddies , used to diving with big bulls , just laughed at our obvious neophytes ’ discomfort .
“ Terry , it was that lax attitude toward bull sharks , developed over years of diving with them , that got me and my son in trouble ,” Ron said . Ron
and Kevin , his 11-year-old son , had found a good reef off the Bahamas in their usual fashion — by towing a diver behind the boat on the surface . They stopped to check it out . When Ron spotted a bull shark he told Kevin to stay on the surface while he examined the reef further .
“ The shark was acting kind of jerky as if to tell me that this was his part of the ocean and I was not welcome ,” Ron recalls . “ I made one last dive to see if the shark was gone . I was down about 25 feet when the shark charged me , and to my surprise raced by me and grabbed my son who , without my knowledge , had followed me down . In defense Kevin threw up his left arm , which the shark grabbed . I had underestimated the size of the shark — it was 7- to 8-feet long and weighed 300 to 400 pounds . Kevin beat at it furiously with his free hand while I jabbed at its head repeatedly with my spear . Reacting purely by instinct , we countered the attack for at least 30 seconds , but we were losing ground . Finally , one of my spearjabs to its eye caused it to release Kevin .”
Kevin survived the ordeal , initially receiving 500 sutures during five and one-half hours of surgery in the Bahamas and later a skin graft in Florida . Kevin even returned to diving . It took a little push at first , but he soon became relaxed and comfortable in the water again , and he still dives with his dad today . His weight lifting hobby has built up the muscles around the shark ’ s wound , helping to mask the 2- by 3-inch scar on his left forearm .
“ Looking back now , what impressed me most about this shark was its robotic action exemplified by its large eye devoid of life , devoid of care , as it grabbed and held my son — like the Terminator ,” Ron says . “ This incident obviously changed my whole outlook on sharks . I suggest that divers always pay attention in the presence of sharks because anything can happen . It is easy to make the mistake of overconfidence .”
We ’ ll close this chapter with some advice from Cameron Kirkconnell :
One of the most important things to remember while diving with sharks is if they want you , they ’ ll get you . A ten-foot shark can