Spearo's Revenge — Dirk Fabrie

Having dived the Zululand/Natal coast extensively I have had my fair share of shark encounters as most Spearos diving along this coastline inevitably do. One of my "what the hell am I doing out here" encounters was an incident shore diving off Island Rock where I was lying on the surface retrieving a speared Seapike when a humungous Tigershark came to investigate me. I know Tigersharks are surface feeders but it could have just eaten the Seapike, which was thrashing on the seabed and gone on its merry way, but no it had to remind me who was on top of the food chain by peering into my facemask before casually swimming away.

Another interesting encounter was watching a Great White circle a fellow Spearo off Lighthouse St Lucia and then hone in straight for him, by then we had the boat alongside and he clambered back on board to safety. You would think we would have moved off to another spot but conditions were good which they so seldom are on this reef that we carried on diving without further trouble, even though the shark was spotted again on the reef by some fishermen.

Having recently moved to New Zealand's North Island I didn't really expect any "shark action" but I suppose sharks follow spearos around like remoras follow them. In these waters you expect to see Bronze Whalers that are common in summer and the odd Mako offshore with Bronzies being the local Blacktips in terms of stealing your fish. I had been spearing in the Tauranga Bay entrance and had a couple of reefies or should I say kelpies now? and was swimming back to the beach when I glanced back and saw this large fin slowly swimming behind my float. I was not unduly alarmed as I knew that the shark wanted my fish and that it was a female Bronze Whaler (they come into the Bay to have their offspring).

Memories of pesky Zululand Blacktips came flooding back especially one encounter at Leven Point where a shark took my fish in whitewater right in front of my feet while standing on dry land. With this memory in mind I thought I would have a bit of fun with this New Zealand Bronzie. As the water was calm and only one metre deep I slowly coaxed the shark with my fish closer and closer to dry land where it made one last desperate lunge for the fish and ran itself aground. At this stage there must have been 40 people watching as there is a busy walking track close by and I felt the need to entertain them further much like Steve Irwin in the "Crocodile Diaries". This I did by wading into the water and dragging the 150kg shark onto the beach much to the delight of the onlookers. After they had feasted their eyes on this beautiful creature I pushed it back into the water and it swam away non the worse for the experience and hopefully it would think twice before trying to steal a spearfisherman's catch.