There are inherent risks to outdoor recreation. Spearfishing can have many risks, including overly inquisitive or aggressive sharks. Sharks are part of a healthy ecosystem and will likely be in the same habitats and hunting the same prey as recreational speros.
In rare instances, ISAF has recorded spearfishers being rushed suddenly by sharks. This is likely a form of territory defense. The majority of spearfishing incidents reported involve the shark investigating the person for several minutes. The vibrations and blood of a speared fish may cause sharks to approach the person or even enter a frenzied state. Most often, spearfishers are bitten trying to defend their catch. All of these combined reasons are why the majority of spearfishing incidents are classified as Provoked by the ISAF.
Wildlife should not be fed, because it can cause animals to associate people with food, making them bolder and possibly aggressive in future encounters with humans. That said, spearfishers should not endanger their safety for the sake of a catch. Using the tips below, you can minimize your risk from sharks while spearfishing.
Tips for spearfishing with sharks:
- Dive with a buddy
- Cut the speared fishes’ gills or pith the brain/spine to stop vibrations
- Vibrations may attract sharks faster than small amounts of blood
- Avoid poor visibility water
- Do not use a belt stringer or dive bag to carry fish
- If possible deposit catches on a boat or land in between shots
If a shark does get near you:
- Maintain eye contact with the shark
- Slowly move away, and if possible, exit the water
If the shark tries to bite you:
- Hit the shark on the snout and push away
- Do NOT spear the shark
- Most spears will likely not have the power to incapacitate the animal and will only make it more aggressive
- Exit the water when you can safely do so