Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hunting in the Caribbean

Yesterday was beautiful. Puffy clouds filled a baby blue sky, the water was sparkling and I was excited.

Bucket List:

We went to the beach with the girls. Don and them were going to play on the beach while Pepe, our new friend was going to take me out and show me the ropes of spearfishing. I had my gear, snorkel and fins. Pepe had his, awesome mechanical spear gun, 35' of rope with a small buoy at the end, lobster hook, his 4' fins and snorkel. He visited with Don a bit, they had never met and I think he wanted to make sure Don wasn't worried about this man taking his wife out in the ocean. Can take the Cuban out of Cuba, but you can't take Cuba out of the Cuban. Not to mention he is a Spaniard...all men could learn from them. Anyways, Pepe told Don we shouldn't be more than 2hrs and we headed out.

We were swimming to the outside reef, best guess 1/2 a mile. Pepe said the best fishing was on the other side of the reef. He had explained that the reef out there "is much more beauty, than reef close to island". To start out we were swimming over sea grass the bottom quickly dropped to about 20-30' of water and it was sprinkled with sea stars and empty conch shells. We were cruising along when in front of us I could see a shadow moving across the floor. Pepe was pointing, I cleared my goggles and  a Lagerhead turtle appeared in front of us. He was magnificent, he was pale with large spots, and he was HUGE!! We swam right up over him and Pepe dove down to touch, I was close behind but Mr. Turtle sped up and stayed about 5' ahead of us. He was 3-4 feet wide and about 4' nose to tail. On the surface Pepe told me he guessed his weight to be 200-300lbs. So beautiful.

Shortly after we came upon some rays feeding along the sea grass, little guys about 1'. They are cool creatures. Lots of life, a gigantic parrot fish, trumpet fish, you name it we saw it. Once to the reef I could see Pepe was right, it was more beautiful then the ones surrounding the island. Nothing was dead, everything was bright and so colorful. The fans were bright orange, purple, lime, red. The fish zipped and dove everywhere.

Once to the reef Pepe would dive down and check under all the ledges for Lobster. Right away he found one and he went to work. He first dropped his spear gun by the ledge to mark it, came to the surface got his lobster hook from the rope, gathered his air and dove. Depth was 25' or so and I watched as he tried to hook the lobster. I was amazed at how long he could stay down there. At first I couldn't see the lobster, but finally she came out trying to get away. Bright orange and fast. She doubled back and hide again under her ledge. Pepe tried several attempts, but she was a quick one. Deciding she wasn't that big anyways we moved on. We looked for fish, Pepe showed me these beautiful little flamingo tongue snails that live on the coral fans. People take them and make necklaces out of their beautiful shells, we collected some, but the shells are not as beautiful with out the creature, because the creature is the one with the spots.

Not a lot of fish worth killing we are starting to circle back when a mackerel crosses our path. He sees us and starts to veer away so Pepe throws his knife out, the fish can't resist the shiny object, Pepe has already sunk to the fishes level, and you hear a small pop and there is a spear through the fish's head. A small bit of blood trails up and away from the fish twitching on the spear, my mind for a moments turns to the sharks just beyond the reef.

Pepe reels in the spear and fish, takes the fish and hands it to me, pulls out a mesh bag and we put him in. Dinner is caught! It all looks so easy to me, but I know that there is a lot of skill into what just happened. Pepe has been spear fishing for 30 years.

We head back into a strong current towing, one mackerel and 4 empty conch shells that are from a graveyard of conch. Some fisherman dumped them over the side of his boat, seeing only the value in the market price of his catch. Pepe the Cuban/Spaniard is carrying everything and I am often just bobbing waiting for him. There is less life to look at because the closer to shore we get, the warmer the water has become and most of the animals have moved out to cooler waters. Morning and evening like everything else is the best time to go hunting. As we near shore Pepe caves, disarms his gun and hands it over. He is a smart man, he wouldn't give me a loaded spear gun. Besides I already pictured myself saying oops.

1 comment:

farawayeyes said...

Oops! Are you kidding me?