My Tips for Snorkeling and Spearfishing
(This article about snorkeling was written by Andy (32), my nephew from Switzerland. He spent the summer months of 2010 spearfishing and shark watching in Eleuthera.)
Andy: Exploring the underwater world has always been a big passion of mine. I enjoyed it especially in the clear and species-rich waters of Eleuthera.
I spent countless hours snorkeling the magnificent Atlantic side reefs during my five Summer months in 2010. And I was amazed by the beauty every time I went out to explore the underwater world.
Oh, here is a shot I took of the beauty who accompanied me on my various Eleutheran adventure tours.
Swimming by myself below the water surface always made me forget everything especially time. Often I swam the quarter mile (400 meters) from Hut Pointe beach to the outer reef. This area is on the upper left of the photo below, near the Sky Beach Club resort.
The outer reef runs along the greater parts of Eleuthera's Atlantic side, pictured below.
Notice on the aerial photo the long, white line that extends to the left and right of the words Atlantic side of Eleuthera. That's the outer reef.
Great Reef & Interesting Coral
Most of the reef is intact. Wonderful! Sometimes the coral is shaped like castles, and the variety of coral and fish is stunning. I also found numerous dive troughs and fascinating caves.
Here is the strange-looking spotted trunk fish
I'm not saying that the area between the beach and the outer reef is boring, not at all. You will find many beautiful snorkeling spots close to the beach. Watch out for dark blue areas in the water. They are full of coral and sea life.
Sometimes coral reaches up almost to the water surface. Therefore you can snorkel in depths of just 2 feet. Feels like flying over a countryside.
Here's a good example of snorkeling in shallow water. Johana is literally floating over the "vegetable garden".
Be careful though not to touch coral with either your fins or hands. Why?...
- Coral is fragile and breaks easily.
- Coral protects itself with a substance that will burn your skin just as jelly fish does.
One day I didn't watch out and got stung by the nasty fireworm. This is a coral eating worm that sits on top of coral heads. The worm's hair is highly toxic and gave me a terrible burning pain that lasted for days.
On my underwater tours I saw several crawfish (lobster) and schools of small reef fish. But also big fish like the giant barracuda (below), huge stingrays, tarpons, turtles and of course sharks.
The Joy of Watching Sharks
Elegant reef shark
There's no reason to be afraid of sharks. They do not attack humans if there's no blood in the water from either your body or from a fish just spear-gunned.
I was always cautious while spear fishing. How?... I dragged a Styrofoam container behind me and as soon as I had speared a fish, I threw it into that container. No blood in the water to attract sharks.
During all of my summer snorkeling in Eleuthera, I was combing the reefs for my daily food. And never did any shark bother me, with this one exception...
As I was on my snorkeling and spearfishing tour close to shore, a Caribbean reef shark turned up. I watched him quite relaxedly and he seemed pretty uninterested in what I was doing. At least that's what I thought.
Sharks seem to know exactly what spear fishermen do. My reef shark suddenly disappeared and I presumed he had gone. Shortly thereafter I shot a yellow tail snapper.
As I was just about to take the speared fish into my hand, my reef shark shot by like a torpedo. He went for the struggling snapper. Luckily the snapper managed to get off the spear before either the shark or I could grab him. Otherwise the shark would probably have gotten the snapper as well as my hand. God, what a relief!
I was quite shocked by the unexpected and fast reappearance of the reef shark but I tried to stay cool as the predator drew his circles around me. This shark behaviour made me recognize that it's best to leave the area now, which I immediately did.
Sharks generally will sense a struggling fish on a hook or spear from afar, and they will naturally go for it. But don't worry about experiencing a similar situation while snorkeling. No shark will be interested in you unless a fish is fighting for his survival on your spear. Get it out of the water quickly and into the floating box behind you.
If you spot a shark, don't panic. Stay calm and stop moving. Quietly enjoy this happy moment. I always regarded it as a true gift of nature to be able to watch these beautifully streamlined predators pass by peacefully.
As I was just starting to snorkel in Eleuthera, a local friend jokingly said to me...“Isn’t it weird to know that we are not at the top of the food chain any longer”? Well,...
I can honestly say that I have seen plenty of nurse sharks, reef sharks even hammerheads. And I never felt endangered by them. Instead, I admired these gorgeous cratures! Remember... No blood, no problem!
I‘m really grateful for having had so many breathtaking experiences in the turquoise and blue underwater world of Eleuthera's Atlantic side. To me, it was a unique time in paradise.
Fascinating!... Four palometa fish hunting a large school of small fish
And here is an enthusiastic report about snorkeling, written by a couple honeymooning in Eleuthera.
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