May 2003 Shark Bytes
Posted on Saturday, 31 May 2003
Hello Shark Byte Readers!
May has been a surprising month with both highs and lows!
When I say highs, I am referring to our pelagic trips with the Mako and Blue sharks. In the two previous seasons of us conducting these trips we have not been out into the deep past the month of April. As a general rule there is supposed to far less tuna around, the water temperatures cooler and the warm water much further from the coast. Despite these factors we had some of our best experiences of the whole season, diving with Mako’s on all but one trip. But, the most exciting experience happened on one of the best weather days we have had out in the deep pelagic currents.
There was no swell and there was no wind, pretty good factors for an enjoyable day! Sometimes when the weather is this good we find that the sharks can be quiet slow. After an hour of waiting we had a small blue shark come up to our bait. We all got in the water with him even though he was a touch shy, going away for a few minutes at a time and then returning for a short while. He eventually tired of us and left us waiting! Just when things seemed really quiet, Chris saw a silver flash behind the boat…now that usually means only one thing, Yellow-fin tuna! On a very few occasions we have seen a few shoals fly by while we are in the water, but what we were about to experience was something we would have never have expected to happen.
On seeing this silver flash Chris threw a few pieces of sardine on the surface. An explosion of water followed as the yellow-fin launched at the sardine and broke the water. After throwing a few more chunks of sardine the rest of the shoal started to follow suit. The sea in front of us become a swirling mass, as the surface water broke while the tuna competed for the bait. We estimated them to be moving at speeds of up to 30 kmph .The scene was mind-boggling! I had just climbed out the water after being with the blue shark and in my excitement I grabbed my mask and snorkel and jumped in the water. I didn’t even have my weight belt or fins and was hanging on the dive step! When I looked beneath the water the scene was of about 40 extremely large tuna fighting for the tidbits and rushing in at enormous speeds. I remember screaming with excitement every time one would rush up to me. While everyone scrambled to get wetsuits on, Chris was throwing little bits of sardine no less than 40 cm from my mask! I would just see the sardine for a few moments before the beautiful fish with its elongated yellow sickles would approach like a bullet train. Now these tuna can get extremely large and we thought that the fish we were in the water with were in the region of 50kgs to 90kgs (roughly 100 to 200 pounds). I think that if one of these guys were to collide with us it would be pretty painful to say the least! I was surprised to observe that at anytime the sardine bit was too close to us the tuna would steer clear of us.