FREEDIVE BULL SHARK ENCOUNTER
BULL SHARK ENCOUNTER IN CUBA
Not all dives end on a happy note. This past Tuesday we took advantage of the good weather and calm seas around Havana, and headed out for a day of spearfishing. Our freezers were empty, and we headed out with a warrior’s spirit. We headed out of Havana at 5:30am, and reached Havana’s eastern beaches at 7:15am. My old Soviet-made Jupiter motorcycle got us there safely, but definitely not quickly. This day’s expedition had us entering the water just east of the old wooden bridge at Boca Ciega. We swam north from Boca Ciega beach for forty minutes until we reached the first reefs.
Once we got there we realized our mistake! The previous day’s rain and the cold front that had just passed had seriously clouded the waters off the coast. Visibility was down to fifteen feet, and there was no current, which in this area means little likelihood of seeing any fish. We pushed on even though we knew our chances of getting any fish were slim, and swam further out than we had planned. We decided to swim further north, to the next series of reefs about a half a mile away. The visibility here was much better, about thirty-six feet, but still without current, and no fish. We zig zagged the area of reefs, where depths range from forty to sixty feet. We began to swim towards the west, and started to dive deeper to scout the area. At this point we started to see fish, but due to the improved visibility we could not get close enough for a shot. The fish were few, and even the ubiquitous Barracudas were nowhere to be seen. When there is a strong current in this area, the Barracudas are everywhere, swimming or just drifting in the current near drop-offs.
We were able to shoot a few medium size snapper, and after three hours of swimming decided to head back. On the way back we saw a large palmetto that went by us very fast, and a large snapper that we could barely make out because of the low visibility.
When we were about seven-hundred feet from shore we decided to hold in an area that was suitable to ambush a passing fish. While on the surface drifting, we saw a large shadow pass under our fins about fifteen feet from the bottom. The shadow soon came around again, and passed immediately under us. It was an eight-foot Bull Shark that was swimming erratically, and after making a couple of more dives we saw him again for a second about forty feet away, and decided to call it a day. It had been several years since I had seen a bull shark, and although not exactly a pleasant experience, it was certainly memorable.
By Hugo Cabrera