How's the Diving on the Big Island of Hawaii?
An ongoing series of freediving journals
by Rob White
May 8, 2006
I am writing this journal with a demented
smirk on my face. This weekend was fun for one main reason, I was
able to catch, on my still
camera, a White Tip Oceanic shark scare the @^%$ out of a “guy” I
took diving. It’s fun to see where I use to be and where I
am now with sharks. But I’m sure their teeth feel the same
regardless if the shark approaches you or if you approach the shark.
The “guy,” his name shall be “guy” to protect
his innocence, speared a nice Mahi at VV buoy first jump this morning
but lost it just before he could grab it. But for his first time
Blue Water diving he did ok. We checked all the other buoys within
a days range but were only able to attract bait fish… a lot
of bait fish but still only little guys. At the end of the day
we decided to throw all the chum at VV buoy before heading into
usual bait fish enjoyed the afternoon snack, but nothing came up
worth spearing. I looked up to notice one of the two guys with
me this day, standing back on the boat. I couldn’t figure it
out because I thought he was enjoying himself…? I look underwater
to find the other “guy” when something caught my attention,
I thought it was a dolphin because he, actually a she, was swimming
straight up from the depths toward my red floater. But it wasn’t
a dolphin, it was a girthy Oceanic shark.
I was excited because I happened to have my still camera in my
hand already and I’ve wanted to get some still shots of the local
tooth critters. I glanced over to make sure the “guy” was
ok with a shark in the water and noticed “he” was making
a bee-line straight for me for protection. I told him to just be
mellow and everything will be fine. I also said, and don’t
worry, I’ll protect you with my camera.
At the surface, the shark made an abrupt turn and was coming straight
at us. I used the opportunity to dive about ten feet down and intersect
her for a photo-op. This is where the humor began… well, for
me anyway… terror for the “guy.” My first shot/picture
was of her approach, the next was taken three inches from her head.
Now you would naturally think the shark would take notice of me and
react in some way, right? Being three inches from her eye. Like it
would look at me, or turn away from me, or turn toward me, or flinch,
or something… but it didn’t make any sort of gesture
at all. All it did was pick up speed and go straight at the “guy.”
Poor “guy,” I could see his eyes bulging through his
mask. He was backpedaling as fast as he could which caused his snorkel
to fill up with water AND it eventually came off all together so
he had to hold it with his hand, which you can see in the picture.
He’s holding my gun in his hand, which is over six feet long,
but you may sense the only thing he would call safe is the couch
in his living room watching this action on TV.
Well, the shark ran right into the tip of the spear and she didn’t
like it very much. She gave a big splash and kick but did a big circle
and came right back for round-two, like sharks often do. I think
the “guy” thought I was nuts when I told him not to poke
her so hard because, I don’t want to hurt her. Ok, maybe it
was stupid to say at the time but the reason still stands.
The “guy” finally made it back to the boat and I thought
I noticed a tear in his eye when he took off his mask… but
it could have been the ocean water. It was the baby-diaper smell
coming from his shorts that threw me off the whole ride home. Man,
did someone step in something?!?
Ok, so I’ll tell you this much… the “guy’s” name… is
April 17, 2006
I haven’t kept up with my journal entries and I’m very
sorry for that. I have been a bit busy and distracted away from
what I like to do second best… first would be spearing fish
myself. After last journal’s Whale of an Experience, I have
a fishy one this time. And for me… it was worth waiting for.
I rarely have chance to dive with my old, I mean long time, dive
partner Bruce Ayau. Bruce and I go back a ways so it’s tons-o-fun
when we both have time to dive together. I, of course, took my video
camera to capture this rare occurrence to dive with master Ayau,
and I’m glad I did.
We were doing a “shore dive” but swimming out to the
Blue Water, which isn’t that hard to do here on the Big Island.
With a billion pounds of chum on Bruce’s floater, I seem to
swim comparatively easily with my usual heavy-laden camera and housing.
Reaching a random destination he began to chum as I filmed the fish-sludge
erupting around him.
The first toss of chum did little to bring any brands of fish around.
So we moved a little ways and tried again. This time we saw some
bait fish. So we moved again, through some more chum and this time
we had the same bait fish and some other larger bait fish… Ok,
so you might see a pattern here… Not much action but the
little action we had grew every time we moved. Eventually, we had
like every bait fish in the Pacific ocean but still nothing worthy
of impaling. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye ALL the bait left
in the same direction. Ooooooooo, something’s coming, I thought
to myself as I look around frantically. I see Bruce concentrating
on something closer to him but deep. I try to focus my eyes where
is looking when I see a GOOD SIZE Ahi, I might even call BIG, but
not GIANT, and definitely not HUGE, anyway, he was coming up to
the chum to have a bite.
For the next hour or so this Ahi took Bruce and I to school as
we unloaded most of the chum to keep him around, but to no avail.
that one-hour time numerous other GOOD SIZE fish, I might even
call BIG, but not GIANT, and definitely not HUGE, came up into
line to feast on Bruce’s sloppy-joe of fish-guts, fish you
would normally be happy to spear like Ulua and Uku’s, but logically
you don’t want to miss your opportunity on the Ahi while you’re
messing around with a minnow.
As the day went on the Ahi gained brain cells and stayed deeper
and deeper to eat the fish-guts at his leisure rather than have
him around the upper column of water. My summer wetsuit was starting
to feel very thin after the first ten minutes so now after two
hours or so my upper and lower jaw became one. At this point all
thinking about was Starbucks and a Lemon bar. Every time the Ahi
would swim by deep in the distance I would imagine it to be trailing
steam out of the perforated lid where the froth of a fresh brewed
cup-a-joe was poured and the powdered sugar wafting in the air
like an off-shore wind on a massive wave from the top of the lemon
as I walked to the table to make passionate love to what seems
like the last food on earth…
Bruce distributes the last of the chum as we both watch with indifference.
Some bait fish show up but they to appear to have had enough as
well. The chum has fallen to about 80 feet, which is about 75 feet
than I am willing to dive at this point, when I take two kicks
toward shore and look at Bruce to let him know I’m done when
I see him diving! What the…! I look down and see a squadron
of 6-8 Ono circling up in our direction. I follow Bruce down as
Ono keep a bit of distance but are attracted by Bruces “antics.” I
don’t know how Bruce does it but he does the funniest things
underwater to attract the fish… and it works! I can’t
tell you what he did because children might be reading this.
The biggest Ono in the group, he was GOOD SIZE, I might even call
BIG, but not GIANT, and definitely not HUGE, turned just right
and Bruce shot. As Bruce was heading toward the surface he had
his Rob Allen floater as it was pulled about 20 feet under the
surface. Bruce said his 75 foot Riffe bungee tag line made all
while fighting it.
The Ono weighted in at 55 pounds, which as I said, it is a GOOD
SIZE fish, I might even call it BIG, but not GIANT, and definitely
HUGE. Keep your eyes out for the video(s)… coming sooooon.
January 22, 2006
You could say I had a Whale of a time. Yes, Whale
season is here and MY GOD are these animals HUGE!!! It’s been a
while since I’ve seen, let alone swam with, the Humpbacks
and I have forgotten about their “attributes.” I have
been telling myself lately, I need something to scare me a little… I’m
glad it was “only” a Whale.
It’s a strange sensation when you take a sip of your friends
Sprite when you think you’re drinking water… It’s
not a bad surprise per say but it’s just not what you expected.
Similarly, when you're out diving and you expect to see some fish
or maybe a shark when all the sudden the entire bottom of the ocean
is moving and it seems to be moving in your direction! Five relatively
small Humpback Whales swim briskly by while I’m sitting on
the surface. Stunned, I know what I just saw, but did I…?
What the…? Who the…? Why were they…? Did I just…?
Ok, I floated there for a minute studying my thoughts, when I heard
the sound of wind briskly escaping a huge balloon. I lifted my
head to see two more Humpbacks taking a breath on the surface and
straight for me about 100 yards away… and they were moving
fast! I asked myself, Whales are smart enough to know that I’m
here, right? They won’t just run into me, will they? And than
nothing… Nothing at all. Complete silence.
I swam in the direction I last saw them when I see a slight difference
in color before me. I slowed my pace and tried to move silently
so as to not appear intimidating, as if I could intimidate a Humpback,
but I also wanted to let them know that I’m here just incase
they decide to breach. As I approached I noticed they were nose-to-nose
and sitting perfectly still. They were HUGE! Not like big fish huge,
not like big shark huge, not even like big Whale huge, I mean these
things were HUGE, huge!
Maybe because they were nose to nose where one’s tail was at
the tip of visibility on one side and the other’s tail was
at the tip of visibility on the other side making them appear like
a 200 foot-long two-headed, 10 billion ton Mammoth Whale with big
tusks… What I mean is the imagination started going as far
as what this/these beast(s) could do to me if it wanted to…
Like a napping infant the two massive mammals sat motionless, nestled
against one another for about five minutes. Hanging about forty
feet below the surface when one Whale began to move. I just kept
Than the strangest thing happened. The Whale that was moving began
to drop its tail while its nose was more or less pointing straight
at me. This made me slightly uncomfortable. Than, once again, without
any usual or visible means, like the swishing of it’s tail
or pectoral fins, the Whale began to rise… straight for me!
Brings a whole new meaning to bladder control. Ok, but now I’m
I started rolling my video camera so at the very least people would
know what ate me and to show that Baleen Whales can be man-eaters
also. I can only thank the Whale for turning at the last second
because I just sat there like a piece of plankton floating in the
But I did have to move my legs a bit because the Humpbacks over-sized
rudders, they call pectoral fins, almost clipped my twigs (legs)
a bit shorter.
I kept the camera rolling as this incredible creature rolled on
the surface to take a breath and than dropped right back down nose-to-nose
with the other Whale. Amazing! What can I say??? I survived an
with one of earth’s largest creatures. I feel pretty good right
January 2, 2006
I can’t emphasize enough the importance and significance
that pure and simplistic interaction with the marine animals plays
in the role of a “successful” spearfisherperson and freediver.
Imagine if the only “device” you needed to defend yourself
from all dangers one may encounter while diving was your brain. Let’s
look at some real world examples we are given and decide for yourself…
The critic will instantly discount what I have said and what I’m about
to say but try and consider this… Since I have been on this planet I have
naturally been drawn to all sorts of animals and environmental issues. For as
long as I can remember I have watched any programming including Discovery, Animal
Planet etc. any and all of the Jacque Cousteau series, read books and periodicals.
More recently I have become not only a student but an active seeker of new information… Let
me point out some of my findings:
Have you noticed that a growing number people are not only seeing
but actually interacting with dangerous animals? Going backwards,
but in no particular
order, most recent was a cameraman in Hawaii who filmed a HUGE Great White
Freediving without the protection of a “shark cage.” That cameraman
must have watched the same shows I have, where only a few years ago a brave cameraman
dared to venture out of the cage for the first time ever… the footage was
INCREDIBLE! Many freediving spearfisherpeople have filmed sharks attacking their
speared fish but to film the Great White shark… it was always in a different
class of insanity to interact with.
This next example is a great example of how stupidity and arrogance
can get a person in some serious trouble. Did you ever hear about
or see the
the two guys in waste deep water baiting in Bull Sharks? Well, the one
guy was the host of this show and the other guy was the idiot who claimed
which have been know to attack and eat humans and are on the top of the “man
eater” list along with Tiger, White Tip Oceanic, Zambezi and Great White
Sharks are relatively harmless!!! So this guy and the host stood perfectly still
wearing only swim trunks for “protection.” Well, surprise-surprise
when finally one of the sharks removed his calf muscle with a single bite… Lucky
for the host it wasn’t himself.
Another form of interaction, and one that I don’t necessarily agree with,
is the guy Manny that likes to wrestle Alligators and sharks etc. for TV. I give
him credit for “taking the plunge” literally and pushing the envelope
to see how far sharks and other dangerous creatures can be manipulated and manhandled
without loosing a limb. All these things desensitize us in a good way from the “horrible
eating machines” the tabloids have labeled the shark in the media and allowed
the general public and divers alike to enjoy or at least not loose sleep over
the sight or even the word SHARK.
This weekend I went out with one of my dive partners Garrett to
find some fish, but all we saw were some random sharks. The water
possibly due to the lack of current and cloudy weather so even filming
was fruitless… until we went to “C” buoy. There, we found one
shark and the conditions were ideal. Garrett helped out watching my back while
I got some great footage. I pulled out my still camera to snap some shots for
this journal but I couldn’t figure out how to turn the internal flash off
while it was in the housing. I guess I should read the instructions... but I’m
a guy… guys don’t read instructions!
Anyway, I finally positively identified these sharks we’ve been seeing
a lot lately as Silky Sharks. They don’t seem to be particularly aggressive
but I’m still learning. We have speared fish while several Silky’s
were in the area and they came close to investigate but never made any serious
runs at us like the White Tip Oceanic have and will. I enjoyed the fact this
Silky stayed around and would come right up to the camera and give a nice smile.
He “twitched” a couple times for whatever reason and boy could that
thing move FAST when he wanted to! He was relatively small, only about 5-6 foot,
but definitely capable of taking off a hand or a foot so plenty of respect was