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Too Close for Comfort

Bob Diaz | SpearBlog 2002 | February 07, 2010 | Print

During the weekend of August 25, 2002, my brother-in-law and I were diving some ledges that we hadn't dove on in 1-2 years. We had passed by these ledges the weekend before, and saw some snapper and grouper, but we had missed the tide, so we couldn't dive. We decided to come back first chance we had the following weekend.

 We got there a little before slack tide Saturday morning. We jumped in and started looking for some of our favorite quarry, Mangrove Snapper and Black Grouper. On our first pass, just my brother-in-law and myself jumped in. We saw quite a few grouper as well as some decent snapper (2 - 2.5 pounds avg) as well. We shot one grouper and about 3 snapper. We decided to make another pass.


On our second pass, three of us jumped in, my brother-in-law, his son, and myself. My brother-in-law and nephew were swimming together with myself about 25 feet away. Normally, that isn't too far apart, but on this occasion, the viz was only about 15-20 feet (the 20 when you're looking up).


We hadn't been in the water for more than 5 minutes on this pass, before I heard my brother-in-law say that they had been buzzed by a 7 foot Bull Shark. Taking a little extra caution because his son was in the water with us, we decided to move to another location.

Since we knew we couldn't dive another spot and make it back in time for the tide to not overwhelm us, we decided to wait until the following tide to return.

Upon our return, we were able to dive the ledges and shoot some more fish. On or about our third or fourth pass through the area, we were following some grouper which were trying to avoid us by moving into some deeper ledges (about 25 feet). We both descended after the grouper, since the viz was still only about 20 feet.

When we reached the bottom, my brother-in-law went to look under the ledge, while I hung back about 7-8 feet, just in case they decided to bolt. Just as my brother-in-law starts to pull out from under the ledge, something catches my eye just over my left shoulder. Of course, it was the Bull Shark.

He was swimming along pretty lazily, unlike most Bull Sharks I have run into, which are usually earning their name by "bulling" their way through whatever area they happen to be in. Especially if there are fish in the area that they feed upon.

He came in over my left shoulder, about an arm's length away, and headed in the direction of the back of my brother-in-law's head. I realize at that moment, that they are on somewhat of a collision course, so I go to lunge towards the shark in an attempt to get him to change course. At that very moment, my fin falls off! I try to move forward anyway, because by now my brother-in-law is clearing the top of the ledge and the shark is actually closer than 10-15 inches to my brother-in-law's head.

My efforts were not fruitless though, as when I tried to get closer, it was enough to startle the shark just enough to get him to decide to get out of there quickly. Of course, my brother-in-law didn't see it that way at first, because the shark gave him a good bump on the shoulder with his tail on his way out of there.

He was obviously startled when he got bumped, as well as thinking at first that it was me that had done it. At least, that's what he thought until he looked in the direction of the bump itself and sees the 7 foot Bull Shark swimming so closely by him that he could have grabbed it's tail as it passed him.

Luckily, neither of us had shot any fish at that time. Sometimes you get upset when you're not catching enough fish. Sometimes, you don't realize how lucky being unlucky in fishing can be...