Given the nature of our sport it is inevitable that spearos are going to have run ins with sharks. Luckily here in New Zealand there are few around and encounters while not rare are unusual. Generally these encounters involve "taxmen" stealing fish and the most common is feeling a sharp tug on your floatline as a bitey takes your fish off your float.
Attacks are very rare but a few general guidelines will help keep you safe:
1. Always iki your fish - Nothing attracts sharks more than struggling fish so dispatch them as quickly as possible. Don't be concerned about the blood this may spill as blood will attract a shark from nearby whereas the vibrations of a wounded fish attract them from miles away.
2. Never ever attach fish to your body - Keep your fish on your float. The best way to transport your catch is in a plat; these are small boats that keep the fish right out of the water. Another very good way is by using a fish stringer. This is a spike with a bit of mono that keeps your fish on your float. The main benefit of a stringer over threading your fish straight onto your floatline is that if a shark does take your fish the mono will snap. This prevents a shark from taking off with your whole rig.
3 Look him in the eye - Like all fish, nothing scares sharks more than eye contact. If a shark does turn up either you or your buddy need to eyeball him at all times.
4 Dive in schools - Never dive alone in sharky areas. In high risk situations such as blue water or while berleying diving in groups is much safer.
5 Don't shoot them - The best way to make a shark angry and lose your gear is to put a shaft into them. If they get really close a good prod with your spear should scare them off.
6 Only dive in freshwater
Here are a few of the most common sharks seen in New Zealand:
The bronzie would account for 99% of shark encounters in New Zealand. Being a coastal shark they hang out in all the same areas as spearos and are notorious for pinching fish off floats.
They are a pretty big shark and are a bronzey brown on top with a white underbelly.
While considered dangerous elsewhere they're pretty tame around New Zealand and a sighting is generally no reason to get out.
The mako shark is one of the fastest fish in the sea and gets pretty frisky.
They're an oceanic pelagic so it is a little unusual to come across one unless you're diving in the blue water or on off-shore pinnacles.
They are pretty intimidating with their gaping mouths and the energetic way they approach you but are generally pretty safe to be around.
Another oceanic wanderer the blue shark is occasionally seen by spearos diving off-shore pinnacles or blue-water. They are very inquisitive and kind of docile and will come right in very close to check you out. They are recognised by their long narrow body, elongated snout and long pectoral fins.
They're not really considered dangerous.
|SEVEN GILL SHARK
Seven gillers are dinosaurs. The only shark of their genus still around they're an ancient species and easily recognizable by their blunt noses, lack of dorsal fin and, if you really need to count them, seven gill slits.
They're not a particularly common sight for spearos but I'd be careful if you bump into one. They'll be easy enough to scare off and won't be aggressive but I wouldn't let one get behind me while I was dealing with a fish.
|GREAT WHITE SHARK
The biggest, scariest and bitiest of them all: While extremely rarely seen by divers it is suggested that you get out of the water if you do.