The Wayfarer (mnfaure) wrote,
The Wayfarer

Of course I didn't bring the camera!

Yesterday morning, J and I biked to the beach to check out the state of the lagoon. It looked great, fairly flat (not quite glass-like, but very lake-like indeed), so J called up S, a colleague, to tell him that the morning's spearfishing expedition was a go. I had decided to go out with J in the afternoon, but upon seeing the lagoon, I thought I would tag along for the fishing. No point in taking the boat out twice.

We headed outside the lagoon through the "Passe en 'S'" and anchored on a strip of sand near the reef shelf. Despite the relative flatness of the surface and a deceptively good-seeming visibility from the boat, the water was full of particles and the sun couldn't make a clean break of the cloud cover. J spied two hefty groupers in a crevice and went down to 10m or so wait for them to overcome their timidity. I was on the surface with the camcorder in its watertight "caisson" (can't think of the word in English). I can't stay down as long as he can, so I was going to give him a 30 second headstart before diving to film him spearing a fish. From the surface, I could barely see his flippers, so any hope of getting a good shot from up there was pretty faint. In the meantime, I looked around trying to spot more potential prey. Through the murky water, I saw a very streamline silhouette and thought, "Now there's a big fish." Only when I squinted and poked my head a few more inches underwater, I realized the 'big fish'  was a 'little shark,' Still at around a meter in length that was long enough for me to be thinking, "Don't shoot a fish, J. Don't shoot."  (Shark attacks here are rare, but 1) they attack hunters who carry their catches on their belts, 2) they attack those who startle them or assault them first). I didn't know what to do. I was afraid to dive down to J and have the shark take it for aggressiveness. It swam toward J and I was about to go down--to do what, I have no idea--when it veered off to the right went on its merry way. I tried to film it, but as I said, the conditions weren't great, and you can't even see a hazy outline of it. I should have dove down and swam with it...But, NO!  Didn't have the guts.

After the shark sighting, we decided to change spots. There were lots and lots of fish at the new location, but for some reason, we only came home with two. Still, we got to see some wonderful things: an enormous whale head breaching the water and the subsequent enormous splash (it was too far away to try to approach it though; it would have been gone by time we got to where I saw it), an eagle ray (poor thing had lost its tail); about seven or eight turtles swam with us (though no more than two at a time), a fish that wanted me to shoot it--my first try ever!--but I was using S's gun  (a cobbled together thing) and I was thwarted by a knot that held back my spear. Ah well, another time.  

Annnnnnd, while I was swimming around looking for another target, I heard J shout, "Quela! Get back to the boat!" Well, after seeing the shark before, I was sure that he had spotted another BIGGER one. But no, it was a WHALE.  In fact a humpback cow and her calf about 200m from us! We followed them for a little while and got pretty close. However, we had called a friend whose business it is to take people on whale-watching expeditions, and he arrived where she stopped with her baby before we did. Since we didn't want to scare the whales off for him, we hung back a little bit.

We didn't get to swim with them. Another day perhaps. I'm glad I changed my mind and went out in the morning. Especially since it rained all afternoon...

Tags: mayotte, sealife, sharks, spearfishing, whales

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