Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend fish=dive=Greatwhite shark

On Saturady morning Mark called me saying that the sea looks ok to go fishing but with the odd shower we would need to put on our wetsuits or suffer the cold in our sickly states(flu bugs still hanging in there). I tossed in diving gear just in case and we lowered our fishing lines an hour later. Using large hooks to exclude small fry saw us bring up no fish and we headed over to Thunderbolt for a look see - hopes that there was enough surface viz to hunt yellow tail. Some huge waves rolled in and we went out behind the "Deep Pinnacles" and put the pick. A light westerly of about 10 knots was blowing. I got in first and saw vertical sheets of murk in the otherwise clean water. If the wind turned West we would have about 30 min max of viz. However, the gods favoured us and it jacked up to about a 15 knot SW and soon the viz was 8-10 m despite the grinding swell. The current had picked up and feed clean water in over the reef we dived on. We each managed one to two small fish and late Mark got a nice galjoen further back and inshore nearer the breaking wave on the "deep pinnacles". We had bee dispensing pilchards at a moderate pace but found no yellowtail. When getting on the bot to feed out line to shift the boat backwards we had a short chat. Mark complained of feeling extremely spooky in the water - I was indifferent and had greater focus on my squeaky sinuses. A fleeting thought of sixth sense warnings passed through my head. Little did know that I had ignored an instinctive signal, though not mine directly. The boat drifted back nearer where Mark found the galjoen and we began diving I was just about to go down when I heard "AHHHAAAHAHHAH!!!"
That was a bit more than a yellowtail alert and expecting a marlin, monter tail, or great white to be the cause I turned toward the source of the sound - Marks' gun had not discharged and his free hand was chopping up and down in the water - fingers extended like shark teeth.
Swiftly I reached to my powerhead pouch and pushed the speartip in. Now we headed back toward the boat about 60 m off - back to back and heads scanning our individual 180 deg. I secretly hoped for the shark to return in a good mood. Swimming back to back like this is such a pleasure compared to doing it solo on shoredives, and of course probabilities are halved immediately.
We got to the boat with with no further encounter(except the fear that herds divers out of the water), and I asked Mark what happened.

Mark was on the surface, looked left, then right to see something different and after a short while he registered - WHITE!
It turned away and at the same time Mark turned and headed up-current and alerted me. He said the shark was very fat and probably about 5 m - 700 mm longer than the boat we were on. He said it was weird how the pointed snout flared out into a monstrously wide body.
For Mark's full story see http://www.saspearoranking.co.za/ForumDB10/iyziForum/default.asp

It is very unusual to find great whites in the water here in PE. Statistically I was due for such an encounter - once every three years or so. My last was on RIY banks and rather hairy - I went home that day with a severely busted muzzle and my 7 mm springsteel spear was bent into a Z shape.

I would expect more white encounters than normal at the point as they are probably concentrated there as they round Cape Receife into or out of Algoa Bay. My theory is that they come and eat seal pups in August and September. RIY banks is directly between Cape Receife and Bird Island so they may cross over it on their way if they were to swim direct. An old fisherman with over 49 years of experience said to me that Aug and September it "their time" i.e. when he had seen most.

So let's see how we cope mentally in murky water at Thunderbolt now...

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