My long-time professional and personal mentor Alberto, of Alberto’s Scuba in Playa del Carmen, helped me build my first spear gun out of metal parts and pieces lying around, and I was pumped. After a few practice runs, I was ready to try this thing out.
Being a bit of a merman myself having spent many of my young 28 years in the ocean, I was already a pretty strong swimmer and determined to increase the time I could hold my breath underwater. I started practicing regularly and each time trying for a few seconds more, and a few seconds more, and pushing myself. The sport of spearfishing requires such stamina and patience in order to be successful. To a fish, a pretty good size guy like me probably looks like a grizzly bear creeping sideways, holding a palm leaf in front of his face for camouflage. So it is very important to always remain calm and maintain patience while respecting the ocean and its creatures.
I had just speared a ten-pound Jurel (of the Amberjack family) when a bull shark suddenly appeared smelling the fresh fishy flesh, of course. My first thought was wow, what a beautiful animal. My second thought was wow, what a huge POWERFUL animal that’s probably hungry and wanting to rob my dinner from me. Just then another appeared. And another. I was surrounded by three, 5-7 foot Bull Sharks in a cove in the Caribbean. I tried to maintain focus and sanity as my heart started pounding 90 to nothing in my chest. “I’m in their environment,” I thought to myself. “If I remain calm and don’t appear as a threat, everything will be ok. They’re not dangerous killers out of a horror movie.” Which they’re not. Contrary to popular belief and scenes from Jaws, the majority of shark attacks happen out of pure curiosity. When the shark realizes what he tasted was not his usual delicacy, he’s not interested anymore and will generally leave it alone. About the time I found my composure and made my escape plan back to the boat, one of the sharks came at me and quickly brushed across my side and darted the other direction, in a football player move kind of way. It was obvious he wanted my dinner and I didn’t feel very willing to share, so I knew it was time to change my location (and my shorts).
- Captain Nahum Alberto Castillo
Pezcaribe Ocean Adventure Tours
Playa del Carmen, Mexico