The Sling - Spearfishing in the Bahamas by Felix Leander

Primitive spearfishing while freediving is really the only way it should be done - and the most challenging is with a Hawaiian sling.  Last September, Mike Portuondo and I spent Labor Day weekend in the Bahamas to best capture the essence of spearfishing with the sling.  And of course there were a lot of sharks as well - basically on every dive.  Below is the video...

Spearfishing with Hawaiian Sling in the Bahamas hunting grouper, cubera snapper, hogfish, lobster and other reef species. Freediving with tiger sharks and Caribbean reef sharks. All video shot on GoPro while freediving. Freedivers are Mike Portuondo and Felix Leander

Stuart Cove's Being Bad by Felix Leander

We have come to expect more from Stuart Cove's - particularly when it comes to shark encounters and the handling of the animals...or maybe not.  The video titled "Hammerhead shark tries to attack diver" shows a Stuart Cove's shark wrangler clearly teasing and antagonizing a Great Hammerhead with a piece of fish.  He goes on to give the guests a "show" by grabbing on to the shark's head multiple times further exciting her with the fish.  Circus and rodeo come to mind...

Whatever happened to keeping things simple.

Great Hammerhead Shark - keeping it simple.  Image by Wolfgang Leander, 2007

And while no one was hurt - once again the shark is made to look like the villain, just one example - the video is featured on Yahoo with the following description: 

"A dramatic video has emerged of a hammerhead shark trying to attack a diver in the Bahamas. In the footage, captured during a scuba diving trip in the Bimini Atoll in late January, the shark can be seen circling a diver before lunging forwards several times. Fortunately, the experienced diver was able to push the shark away and survived the experience without any injuries."

The description is completely laughable as is the "experienced" diver.

For more details on the story you can read Mike and Martin's blogs.

Stuart Cove's has been quick to criticize other dive operators for not adhering to high standards - it's time they look at their own.

Logan Mock-Bunting Captures Freediving Competition by Felix Leander

Came across a Wired article about freediving yesterday that features the photography of Logan Mock-Bunting.  Logan was in the Bahamas late last year to document the 2014 Vertical Blue freediving competition.  He captured the ups and downs (literally and figuratively) of the participants - from the celebrations to the black outs.

Shallow water black-out.  Image by: Logan Mock-Bunting

Be sure to check out his work at

Sharks: To touch or not to touch them - that is not a question for Mike Neumann. by Wolfgang Leander

Mike Neumann will not compromise. Divers who touch sharks, worse: ride them, are, in his opinion, submarine perverts. He calls them 'Shark Molesters'. 

I have a slightly different opinion. I say: If you have a lot of experience diving with sharks, have learned to understand their distinctive body language, and, most importantly, if you love and respect these animals, actually all animals, then I believe it's OK to touch, even caress sharks.

Nurse Shark love. These sharks are very gentle if you treat them gently.
Photograph by Karin Leander (Bahamas, 2004)
Click to enlarge 

Riding them is a different story. Sharks are not horses or bulls, and even former rodeo riders should not manipulate sharks abusively, like turning them upside down or jam Go-Pro cameras on a wand into their mouths (I have seen such totally unacceptable behavior during my last tiger shark trip).

Further down is a brillant article wherein Mike puts forward his thoughts about the subject. Not only do I hold him in the highest esteem for his convincing arguments, but I really believe that his way of introducing his underwater guests to sharks as a responsible and sensible diving operator should become standard protocol in the shark diving industry. 

I am sure that after having read the interview with Mike you will agree with me that this is how shark operators should run their businesses - always allowing certain exceptions,  of course...... otherwise, how would I be able to go back to where I could caress my beloved striped girls again?.... :-)

Contrary to their bad press, tiger sharks can be as gentle as nurse sharks - if you know how to communicate with them.
Photograph by Felix Leander (Aliwal Shoal, 2008)
Click to enlarge