View Full Version : Bull sharks
Anyone have any encounters with bull sharks to share? I dont have as much expierience as some of you guys on the forum here.
I ran in to a bull this past summer, and I've thought about it since then. I was going down, about 20 ft under and I saw him move in my periphial vision. VIs was about 30 ft, and he was about 20 ft away I guess. I think he looked about 8 feet long or so. I stopped and turned to face him, and he circled a quarter turn and left.
Question is, if I had been coming up with a stringer full of fish would he have left?
Has anyone every encountered them in that type of situation? I have doven several times where just as we leave a wreck with our fish they show up as we leave.
I think if I had any fish with me and he got that close it would be a real good idea to separate company with the fish. My stringer is on a long lanyard below me, about 10 feet, so I can drop them if needed. I hate to do that but hey, I can always come back tommorrow. Anyone have thoughts or expieriences on the subject?
02-02-2003, 04:51 PM
This is a topic often discussed here. Spear One's probably the person to listen to. His main piece of advice that's been offered here is to NEVER let go of your fish. You feed the shark, shark gets worked up, things get worse.
Do a search on sharks on this forum. We've had a few threads with some very good posts in them.
02-02-2003, 05:29 PM
Yeah, he went into that yesterday at the seminar. YOU are the predator and it's YOUR reef not the shark's. If he disagrees, give him something to chew on, like the end of a .223 powerhead.
02-02-2003, 06:23 PM
I have what I call the 5 to 9 rule,from the month of may thru sept. I will not stop any anything 8 miles on in to the beach. The bait moves in,then the tarpon move in,and you just keep working your way right up the food chain.
02-02-2003, 06:45 PM
Thats a real good point. I usually only dive deep water, but that rule of thumb works real well.
02-02-2003, 09:41 PM
Here is my trip report from 8 July, 2001...
Anchored over a small patch of rock bottom in the endless sand a few miles off Perdido Key, Sunday's second dive started out with a slight wrinkle... my buddy was late showing up at the bottom, so I headed out by myself, easing along looking for dinner. I cocked my speargun and began an expanding square roughly centered around an old tire on the bottom. Nothing. The snapper I'd seen on the way down had suddenly disappeared, which was a little odd but not disconcerting - still, I wondered why.
Suddenly a big Crevalle came by my right side, and my immediate thought was that he was the reason the snapper had taken cover - then another and another, then two big redfish. Suddenly, I was surrounded by dozens of the big Jack Crevalle and hundreds of two to four foot long, delicious, beautiful red drum, flashing golden and gorgeous through the clear gulf water! They were circling me, going in both directions! I'd never seen anything quite like this in over thirty years of diving. It was remarkable, beautiful, mesmerizing… and I brought my gun to bear on several nice reds but wasn't quite satisfied with the shot yet - something wasn't right. These fish were moving too fast. Too skittish, too much energy being wasted in behavior that obviously has nothing to do with feeding... why, these big fish were acting more like a baitball than the large gulf predators they are... and for some reason they've obviously chosen me as a center of the ball. No, something else is going on here...
Suddenly, all comes clear -
Two big sharks!
Two big heavy bodied sharks, and two more smaller ones.
Not just "cruising by" sharks, not "lucky to see" sharks, unapproachable, marvelous interesting sharks - no...
These are big, stocky, back up pectorals down maneuvering quickly and purposefully hunting feeding hungry serious Bull sharks intent on herding the school of Crevalle and Reds, and me in the middle of it all! Suddenly the biggest one (estimate 350 pounds, 7-8 feet) flipped and headed directly at me, with speed and purpose. All I could do was raise the speargun, realizing that I had no chance of doing any real damage to him, but maybe enough to discourage him with a poke in the nose. Just out of speargun range he veered off suddenly, passing on my left. As I turned to keep him in sight I could feel the dragon crawling up my spine as I was forced to turn my back on the other big shark. Why, oh why had I not waited for my buddy, my wingman - anyone to cover my six and help me keep both those big boys in sight? By now I had started a slow, deliberate, non-threatening "I am definitely not the food you want" ascent... Two full minutes - an eternity - from the sixty-odd feet where we'd started. The baitball of big fish and the hunting sharks stayed with me for awhile, but thankfully began to drop below me as I cleared 30 feet or so. No safety stop today, thank you. I surfaced about 50 yards from the boat, then dropped and made a slow, deliberate swim back there just beneath the surface so as not to be flopping around like a wounded fish, all the while keeping my head on a swivel, watching for the sharks, catching the occasional glimpse of them still working the baitball beneath me.
As I got to the boat, I didn't even need to ask my buddy if he'd seen 'em too, as he was already climbing in, speargun still cocked and aimed below.
God, I loved it!
02-03-2003, 08:35 AM
Sheeeeeet.....Pucker factor 10:eek:
Had a similar experience off WPB in about 130fsw.... about 20 or more Bulls in the 6ft range. They were not in a "feeding" frenzey, but were herding up the AJ's and smaller bait fish. I did'nt stay around to see what was going to happen:D
02-03-2003, 09:36 AM
I had a bad experience with an aggressive 'Cuda in the Keys who ended up taking my fish. I was more pissed about it than anything else. But there definitely would have been a brown cloud of runny fluid coming out the back of my wetsuit if I had the encounter with a school of feeding bull sharks.
02-03-2003, 09:43 AM
Haven't seen any bulls in the Destin area this winter (doesn't mean they're not around).
I've given up fish twice. The first time, the bull was in full aggressive mode (pecs down and rapid advance and retreat, kind of like swimming in a figure eight). The second time, all I had was an anorexic flounder that I didn't want to clean anyway.
02-03-2003, 10:10 AM
When the temp climbs into the mid-80s and the water warms up, it will again be common, even offshore, to have to descend through bait so thick that you'll think that you're hitting the bottom, only to pass through and see another 15'. That is always when I feel the most vulnerable, because you have no viz in the bait, and any number of fish, including sharks, could tear you a new one if they decide to rip through the bait school. I would imagine a king mackerel or wahoo inadvertantly clipping you wouldn't feel very good.
Sometimes on the top of the ledge the bait will swim around you like you're safe harbor or something. I won't stay in them down there. I'll either hunt from the bottom of the break, or get above them. Even large amberjack circling around you are a little spooky. When you shoot one, his dumb ass friends just hang around longer. :D
02-03-2003, 12:35 PM
Your bull shark story gave me the willies. One spring/summer I was freediving close to shore on some artificial, about 15' of water and got birdcaged by a big school of Cravelles. I didn't think much of it at the time. I just sat at the bottom and marveled at it, although it did seem creepy. I do recall my spider sense tingling a bit. I didn't get too alarmed because Cravelles always travel in schools and I thought they were just being curious.
02-03-2003, 12:57 PM
A couple of years ago I went shooting with two buddies and ended up each shooting a nice cobia. This was one of those trips as described above where you are going down through a cloud of bait and can't see the end of your gun in front of you. The first shark I saw was a 7-9 foot hammer head swimming away from the bait as I approached the edge of the school. After he left my field of vision I descended to the bottom and swam over the wreck to the West side where I looked down on a beautiful school of 13+ cobia. I got one, found my buddies and they each got one. All three fish were in the 30-40 lb range and put up major fights while bleeding a LOT . While we were looking for some Mangroves we each started seeing bull sharks heading in from every direction. After seeing no less than 4 at one time we signaled eachother to go up and we made our safety stops with no further sightings.
Of course I was with one buddy who is simply a shark magnet...every time I go shooting with this guy we see sharks...luckilly he is in HAwaii now and I don't dive with him over here. I hope he doesn't pull in the Great Whites like he pulls in Bulls!
02-03-2003, 02:52 PM
****ING DURNIN!! It was with me when we ran into his and my first bull shark and Brandon just happened to find us and coax us out of the rubble piles " we were dug in like a friggin stone crabs" lol Its easy to laugh now, but it was a helluva lot of high fives when we got back on my boat!!
02-03-2003, 05:47 PM
I'm new to the west coast so have not seen much on this side, but bulls are quite commopn in the keys and southeast coast. I found a solid ten-footer creeping up behind me at 130' one day as I was diggin lobster out from under a wreck. I quickly joined the lobster in the first hole big enough to fit my ass into. Mr bull swam around the other side of the wreck and dissapeared. Only to reappear as I ascended to the boat. Toughest safety stop I ever abbreviated. Had a friend get blind sided by a seven footer in the keys seconds after popping a large mutton. His dive buddy watched the whole thing in horror as the shark beelined for him and slammed him into the reef, ripping his mask and regulator from his face along with a tooth. Once mi amigo got his shit back together he found the bull aggressively circling within feet so he cut the mutton off the shaft and the big guy snacked it up. His dive buddy did not do much diving after that. Know another couple of dudes that got gang raped by a pod of bulls in Ft Lauderdale. They separated the guys and then bit one of them in the ass as he surfaced. He held onto the fish until right after he got bit. I think there is definately a point where one must relinquish the food to avoid this. Not right away, but if an 8-footer wants what you got and he ain't quitting, you'd better have a powerhead to push yourself back to the top of the food chain before a couple million years of predatory evolution chooses you:eek:
02-03-2003, 09:36 PM
i had some really mean bull chasin me around last week in wpb while freediving the princess anne. holy shit! they at one time were trying to eat my bouy while i was in the boat. got chased out of the water three times, but the fish were thick, so i wasn't goin nowhere.
02-03-2003, 09:39 PM
also, a friend of a friend of mine got eaten by one last summer. what a way to go.
02-03-2003, 11:01 PM
This is my first response on the board, just telling my tale. I live in Ruskin, and when the weather or gas funds are not to hot we dive the Bay. Now, a lot of you are right in thinking God that must suck, and it does sometimes. The rewards however might surprise you. Have always gotten the limit of stone crab claws and their are plenty of decent fish to hammer. Any way last summer on one of our little wrecks I shot my first cobia. Being somewhat new to the sport and not realizing the strength the fish would exhibit, which I should have being a fisherman. This 40# sucker starts to kick my Ass!! Luckily only in 20' of water so I had plenty of air to do battle which you guys can imagine was not pretty. Anyway, finally gained control of the fish and while I am sitting on the bottom putting my self together an 8' plus bull sneaks out of the 10' vis and proceeds to try and take my fish!! To make a long story short I am sitting on the bottom with 300Lbs of teeth eating my fish and trying to eat me. Luckily he got half of the fish and I was able to get the hell out of dodge. Needless to say that was the last air we wasted on the bay. The truly funny part was trying to explain to my wife where the other part of the fish was.
The snake bits the flamingos ass hardest at high noon
02-04-2003, 07:55 AM
are you serious? your friend got eaten by a bull shark? what the hell happen, was he spearfishing?
02-04-2003, 08:20 AM
Originally posted by fishhunta
also, a friend of a friend of mine got eaten by one last summer. what a way to go. Fishhunta, that's terrible. What happened, and where did it occur?
02-04-2003, 08:23 AM
That aint cool fishhunta. Was he provoking the bull?
02-04-2003, 09:21 AM
Yeah, WTF?? That has got to be the worst way to go. You guys remember the old man that got eaten by a bull while swimming in the canals around st pete beach a few years ago??
02-04-2003, 04:14 PM
im not joking. a guy ive met, but didnt know very well(3 of my friends did) was diving with a rebreather on the rbj in 265 ft of water. he dissappeared and the papers reported a drowned diver, but when they found his body, his arm and leg were missing. the coroner said that drowning was the cause of death, but the leg was definately taken off before he died( they can tell because of bruising). a few of his friends that i know very well were diving the same wreck a few months ago and a huge bull charged them before they even reached the bottom. the powerhead flew, but was a dud. I'll tell ya one wreck that ill never dive!!! btw- no, he was not spearing, and the second incident they hadn't shot anything yet..
02-04-2003, 04:35 PM
I read an article about it a while back, but I didn't know he was using a rebreather. I'll see if I can find the link.
You have to wonder if diving a rebreather (no bubbles) makes you more inviting to a shark. I don't pretend to know what a shark is thinking, but I think it's been proven that they don't like bubbles. I remember the article said that that site is notorious for big sharks.
P.S.: Here is the link that I was thinking of: http://www.marcodailynews.com/02/04/florida/d759860a.htm
02-04-2003, 07:45 PM
Too crazy. I saw a huge bull in that same area and it about scared me to death. Man eater lookin':eek:
02-04-2003, 09:21 PM
Diving in 300'? Damn!!!
02-04-2003, 10:37 PM
On a lighter note, ever notice when your buddy sees a shark and you are on the boat they always come up feet first. When we see the fins first we always hurry for the pickup.
02-05-2003, 06:28 AM
I remember "that" incident. Eric Reichardt was his name. He was a fish collector, diving a CIS Lunar, the actual unit that killed Dr. Henry Kendall.
We will never really know what happened because it was basically a solo dive. This incident was openly discussed for several weeks and the only conclusion I came away with, was that another solo rebreather diver had died, and was at some point eaten by a shark.
The ME concluded it was a drowning (lungs were full of water) and that the shark in question was a tiger or bull. His body was found several days later on the surface w/o his rebreather.
The tech divers focussed on the dive equipment and the procedures of the dive. The ME focussed on the state of the remains. The shark attack file group used the incident to help bolster their political agenda (It was the only shark related death in Fl that year and this group was fast becoming irrelevant much like Jesse Jackson after his love child surfaced). At the time there was a great debate on whether or not to ban Jim Abernathy's shark feeding dives. The shark attack files group brought forth their "data" and offered their expertise for a fee to the highest bidder.
Here is the "buddy's" report.
Fellow Divers, I am writing to report to you the facts that I have concerning the loss of Eric Reichardt on Sunday, 9/16/(01). Some have voiced concern that nothing was reported in the paper and no information was available concerning this tragic event. However, as was reported here, attempts to locate Eric with the USCG, BSO, area dive boats, and the kind assistance of other boaters were taken.
I was the only diver who entered the water with Eric, and as such, I am the only source of information concerning the events. Eric was fully certifed on, and diving, a Cis Lunar MK5P Closed Circuit rebreather. I was diving an AP Valves Buddy Inspiration Closed Circuit rebreather. We both had OC bailout and deco gases available, as well as all other normally carried tech gear.
The dive was on the wrecks of the RB Johnson and Corey and Chris, depth approximately 268 FSW. This was my first dive with Eric, who was self employeed in collection of tropical fishes. He had recently dove this same wreck on the Cis Lunar and had seen a desired species, and he was attempting to capture it. I had planned to explore certain areas of the interior of the Corey and Chris.
We agreed to drift into the wreck and go about our separate plans once on the wreck. We had both 25 minute planned bottom times, with total run times of 107 minutes and 121 minutes. Eric was likely to finish deco first, as the Cis Lunar has onboard realtime deco capabilities. I was carrying a reel with an enclosed bag inflated on the surface which I would tie into the wreck and use to drift off of after the dive. Eric was to shoot his own bag from the wreck.
Current on the site was 1.5 knots south, visability was about 40 -45 ft. Eric was carrying gear to contain the tropicals, which were positively bouyant, thus slowing his desent. I watch him above me occasinally as we drifted into the wreck. Entry time was 13:20.
I hit the bottom at run time 1 minute and put my depth guage in the sand to get a bearing on the wreck location which was not in view. Depth was 268 which meant that the wreck was slightly west of our location. I took a compass bearing and swam at an angle westward, and looked up and saw Eric about 30 ft above me and slightly behind me, next to my line. I did not see him having any problems at this time.
Decent time is a busy time for rebreather divers. In addition to normal descent procedures, a rebreather diver has to monitor his PO2 readings, add diluent to the counterlungs, change from low set point to high set point, etc. Suffice to say, it is a high task loading period.
Shortly after beginning to head west, I caught a view of the stern of the wreck and swam hard for it, as the current was fairly strong. I got up to the deck of the wreck, moved to the leeward side to tie in so as not to chafe the line on the superstructure. I viewed my PO2 and systems, and noted a run time of 3 minutes.
I then went back to the other side of the wreck to see where Eric was. I did not see him, so I swam the wreck to the point of contact with the RBJ in search of him. Though the visability was poor by Florida standards, his large yellow rebreather would have been relatively easy to spot.
I began to consider what could have happened. My thoughts were that one of three things were possible. 1. Eric missed the wreck, surfaced for another drop, or continued a "dirt dive" out of my sight. 2. Eric saw a fish he wanted, and went after it, as that was his goal. 3. He had a problem on the dive.
I acted in a worst case scenario and began a full bottom search for him. I began by backtracking to the area I had last seen him, with a difficult swim against the current. I then attempted to search other areas of the wrecks that were previously out of my view. As the wrecks are 226' and 180' this is a large search area with this visability.
At run time 16 minutes, I decided that he was not on the wreck, at least to the best of my abilities in the search. I believed that it was best for me to begin an ascent for a number of reasons, and cut my deco obligation, in case he was injured on the surface.
I sent up a second lift bag to notify the surface there was a possible problem. I completed my deco and surfaced to find that Eric was not on the boat.
We immediately contacted the boats in the area, told them the situation, and began looking for a lift bag. We contacted the USCG and advised them of the overdue diver, and were offered assistance by boats too numerous to mention here. My sincere thanks for all who tried.
We identifed the areas where Eric might surface based on current and run time. A full search effort was underway to include air support. I requested permission from the USCG to do a SAR dive in the area where I felt Eric might be. They were understandably hesitant to agree, but contacted superiors for permission. I agreed to their terms as it was their scene at this time.
At approximatley 18:50 the USCG stated they did not want me to dive, but reversed that decision shortly thereafter. With the sun low on the horizon, poor vis and low ambient light, I decided the dive would be fruitless. There were other factors, including support, stack time on the breather, diluent gas, etc. I decide to try the next morning.
I and a team of OC divers assembled this morning to attempt to recover Eric. Dive conditions were very poor. Current at the site was 3.3 knots south, and another dive boat reported 20 ft vis on the Miller Lite, a shallower but nearby wreck.
We will attempt again tomorrow. I will continue with this effort until it is accomplished.
We have seen other tech diving fatalities, and the community has come together to recover the victims. This is done mainly for the benefit of the family, but also it is done for the dive community. It is what we should, and will, do.
I am sure that there are some who will second guess my actions on this dive and I am amoung them. All I can say is that, though we were diving solo, I did the best I could. Those of you that know me know that is is nothing I would not have done in efforts to rescue Eric, or for that mattter, any diver, had I been sucessful in locating him.
My deepest condolences to Eric's family and friends, and my heartfelt thanks to the many who have offered assistance and support. Regards, Mike
02-05-2003, 07:03 AM
That certainly appears to be the best account of what happened, and I would only echo Mike's condolences to Eric's family. Very sad.
02-05-2003, 07:45 AM
Wow...what a story. Thanks for sharing it.
I dive primarily for the thrill and adventure of it.......this type of story kind of brings you back to reality.
02-05-2003, 02:24 PM
i too am a commercial fish collector and that is how i know of him. it is possible that im wrong, but everyone here refers to the incident as if a shark bit him, then he drowned, then the shark bit him again. the local word(reliable?) is that the ME said one of his wounds was before he died which would certainly cause him to drown. thanx swim dive for that report. i'd ask the other people that im friends with tha t were on the boat that day for details, but its kinda touch for them....p
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