sharks

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


Featured Photographer - Scott Campbell by Felix Leander

Just a little less than two decades ago there was only a handful of freedivers that were capturing moments underwater that were focused on large marine life.  Aside from the Nikonos V, u/w cameras were bulky, expensive, and did have the high resolution as they do today.  And freediving was just starting to go through a revolution and become more popular.

One of those freedivers / photographers is Scott Campbell.  While I am not sure what gear he uses, all his photography is black and white and his subjects include sharks, whales, pelagic fish among others.  I remember seeing his images in the early 2000s - the ones that struck a cord was that of a oceanic white tip (he was doing it before it was "in").  His photographs are raw, rough, yet beautiful - a direct result of the ocean he mostly dives in - The Pacific.

The fact that Scott spent 5 years competing on the US Freediving Team and set numerous records for depth and duration have worked in his favor - being comfortable in the ocean have allowed him to approach animals in ways that a SCUBA diver could never.

Have a look at his gallery / website: http://www.on1breath.com 

Scott definitely was a trail blazer...

Scott Campbell freediving with Oceanic White Shark.  Photo by: Unknown

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