tiger shark

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

Tiger Shark Research by Felix Leander

The RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is conducting research on tiger sharks in The Bahamas (particularly Tiger Beach) to study their movement patterns and reproduction.  The study is looking to answer several questions including:

  • Are tiger sharks using TB as a mating ground, feeding area or gestation ground? If not, where are these critical areas?

  • What are the overall residency patterns of sharks within TB?
  • Does dive tourism affect tiger shark behavior and movements at TB? If so, how?
  • How much movement is there in and out of TB? What are the migrations patterns of tiger sharks in the subtropical Atlantic?
  • How much time are tiger sharks remaining in the Bahamas Shark Sanctuary? If they move out the Sanctuary, where and when are the sharks most vulnerable to fishing exploitation?
  • How are shark movement patterns influenced by their body condition and health?

The research is being led by Neil Hammerschlag and his team.  It will be extremely interesting what the results will yield, particularly if shark diving tourism in the area has an effect on the sharks.  Many have theories - but none have been proven.

For more information visit University of Miami's website - and find out about all the other projects that the University is working on.

Tiger Shark at Tiger Beach, Bahamas.  Photo by Wolfgang Leander (2009)

Freediving... by Felix Leander

There is nothing more pure, nothing more beautiful than freediving.  To truly become immersed in the ocean and connect with it, you have to strip yourself of the one thing that makes you comfortable on earth - breathing.  For as long as you are connected to oxygen you are disconnected to the world down below.  Add any marine animal to the mix, be it a dolphin, shark, grouper, or damselfish - and they too will immediately sense the disconnect...

Beyond the athletic aspect of freediving - the mental state takes each freediver to a place within themselves in which they find peace (which will vary for each) and calmness even when working (spearing / photographing / etc).

Freediving and having the privilege to interact with animals, no matter their size is something that cannot be replicated on SCUBA.  Of course that is some work that requires all the pesky gear --- but I would dare to say that a lot of it, particularly photography / videography can be done on your own breath.  Some of the best u/w photographers I know freedive only - some are old and some are young (there is no excuse).

With all the shark material that is being pumped out - there is nothing more beautiful than capturing a moment between sharks and freedivers (no direct interaction even necessary)...

And while you see guys getting more and more complex in what they do on SCUBA...in freediving you think about simplifying everything. 

Freediving with juvenile tiger shark and lemon shark.  Photo by Wolfgang Leander (freediving)

Freediving with juvenile tiger shark and lemon shark.  Photo by Wolfgang Leander (freediving)

Freediving and filming tiger shark.  Photo by Raul Boesel (freediving)

Freediving and filming tiger shark.  Photo by Raul Boesel (freediving)