Dive Trip Report to:
The Reefs off of Vero - By Wayne! -
Purpose: Get Lobster by Wayne:
Captain's Log: "Dances With Sharks" 8/14/01
About 3 miles off Vero Beach (N27 40.2, W80 18.7)
Weather: clear, light wind, calm seas, 2 ft swell (ideal)
Depth: 32 feet on top of rocks & ledges, 38 on the bottom
Visibilty: top-to-bottom, 25 ft on the bottom (nice)
Lobsters: only shorties and pregnant females (boo, hiss)
Fish: lots of snapper, grouper and trigger (speared 2 groupers)
Near the end of the dive, I was returning to the anchor line when I noticed that I had company . I had never seen a Live Tiger Shark before, but there was no doubt about the vertical stripes matching the photos. Size? I've seen many 5-6 foot nurse sharks and this one was definitely bigger. 7 foot? 8 foot? I saw it make two passes at the edge of visibilty, then one about 15 feet away. By then my anchor was in view. I found a friendly rock to cover my back while I watched awhile. After three minutes of no sightings, I swam to the anchor, attached my catch bag to the chain and ascended the line hand-over-hand (no fins kicking). Back on the boat, I told myself that there had been no real threat. Wrong! When diving solo, I drift a styrofoam ball on a 70 foot line off the stern of the boat (in case a current takes me past the boat). When I pulled the line in, it looked like a Hollywood movie. A dorsal fin surfaced behind the ball, closed the gap and there are teeth marks on the ball now. The shark followed it all the way to the boat. When I pulled up the anchor, all but the brass clip of the catch bag was gone . Then, I saw the shark following the anchor up. Just before it cleared the water, the shark bit the anchor . If I hadn't seen (and felt) it, I wouldn't have believed it!
Moral of the story: I've always believed that sharks are only interested in the speared fish. My wife named the boat because of the times I've waltzed in circles trying to keep our fish to ourselves. I've had sharks come from outside visibilty range and take a fighting fish off my spear without ever looking twice at me. Until today, I've never worried that a shark would attack me personally or ever follow me to the surface. Also, on a taste bump, neoprene isn't fish-flavored. Mr. Tiger proved all my theories wrong. This guy was after anything in the water, on top or bottom . He was biting first and tasting later. I guess I'm going to have to re-evaluate my thinking before I dive again.
P.S. To help keep things in proper perspective, in the Army I was a Green Beret. Usually, I don't scare easily. Today got my attention.
And - some more fuel for the fire:
I just left Hatt's Diving. Mike said that I was the 4th or 5th person he heard complain about tiger sharks harassing divers near Vero recently . He asked when my incident occurred because he knew that a 10 footer had been killed a few days ago . Obviously, my shark wasn't the one killed. In any event, in all his years in the dive industry, he's never heard about so much tiger shark activity at one time.
Then, another customer walked in and entered the conversation. He asked: Were you off Vero? Straight out from the twin towers? About 35 to 40 feet deep? About an 8 footer? When I responded "yes" to all the questions, he said he knew it because it harassed him and his buddy on Sunday. They weren't spearfishing; just lobstering. It was their first tiger, too. It didn't actually attack them on the bottom, but it was passing close enough and scary enough to abort the dive. While ascending, they attached their catch bag to the flag line. They made it to the boat, but the bag [Lobster Bag] didn't. He said it also attacked his dive flag bouy and then the lead weight under it.
I had wondered if the shark was migrating or something and my seeing him had just been a same ocean, same day random encounter. I guess not. Also, according to a book I just read, tigers travel continuously and catching the same one that attacked a human is nearly impossible because only a few hours later, they are miles away. I'd like to talk to the author about his theory. Actually, I'd like to take him water skiing near Vero . . .
Last Updated: 10-July-2002