Whenever you hear Great White, terror is struck to your inner core as a diver. We all think Jaws. Well this weekend in FORT PIERCE a group of freedivers participating in a spearfishing tourny spotted a great white. With mini season upon us, perhaps you should stay away from the Treasure Coast and leave all the bugs for me?
At 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Steve Maldonado, 32, of Palm Bay, and three of his friends aboard his boat, Boaty Call, were about to enter the water in 130 feet northeast of Fort Pierce Inlet.
Maldonado said diver Eros Morales of Palm Bay jumped in first and began untangling the float he attaches to his speargun. Suddenly, Maldonado noticed Morales was swimming backwards to the boat while he had his speargun pointed back towards something he was swimming away from.
“Eros is screaming, ‘There’s a big (expletive) shark!'” Maldonado said. “I could see behind him coming at him was about six inches of the top of the dorsal fin sticking out of the water and a big shadow underneath. ”
“I called great white, but probably prematurely, and another guy said tiger shark,” he said. “When Eros got in the boat, it swam close and we could see it looked a lot like a great white.”
Morales, 31, said he was surprised, but he stayed pretty calm. He estimated it was about 30 feet from him and turning towards him.
“The water was very clear, and I could easily see it was a big shark, but I wasn’t too concerned with trying to identify it,” he said. “I just focused on the task at hand – kick towards the boat and keep the gun pointed at the shark.”
Jeremy Reed was cutting sardines and tossing them overboard as chum, but had only tossed over a few cuttings when the shark arrived. Maldonado noticed the large shark would not leave. They then tossed in a large chunk of snapper carcass from a catch last week to keep the shark close to the boat. That gave him the opportunity to get his GoPro video camera on a pole to video the shark as it swam close.
This is where I have to discuss my feelings. I have contemplated spearfishing. Hubby used to be all about it but we both have some conflicting emotions about whether it gives man an unfair advantage and with fish stores across the world being depleted, I am at a crossroads on this subject.
They estimated it to be about 12 to 14 feet in length.
Great white sharks are considered very rare in Florida waters, however, there have been occasional sightings and catches numbering about one to two per year between Miami and Cape Canaveral. They are more common off the New England states and in southern Canada’s offshore waters.
Last year in late June, a Sebastian commercial spearfishing diver shooting amberjacks in 170 feet of water observed one and captured it on video with a GoPro camera.
“That shark seemed as scared of the diver as he was of it, and it left right away,” said Maldonado, who saw the video. “Our shark was determined to hang around. What I read about sharks after watching our video is it seemed to have its fins pointed down, like in an aggressive manner. He didn’t eat the snapper carcass. I think he wanted to try some mammal that day.”
Anyway, please refer back to my previous post on shark attacks. Chumming to me is an open invitation to these guys to come close and get a little dinner. Just be prepared, you may be the main course. Review your shark safety if you are a diver. Get to the bottom, take out your knife and stick with your dive buddy close. Two of you will appear to be one large object. Remember if threatened that a good punch in between the eyes will encourage him to leave you alone. You are in their home and are naive if you think you will never see a shark, granted none of us really wants to come up close and personal with a great white bastard, whoops I mean shark.