I got one for you!
After it passed, Donna looked back at me, I'm sure my eyes were BIG! and she gave me the "let's you and me be buddies" sign language since the guys were so far away from us and we needed to pair up and stay close to each other. I nodded my head "yes" and then I noticed a gray reef shark (7 - 8 ft big) was swimming right toward her. I swam up next to her. Jerrod was trying to get back over by her. It approached quickly to check us out, then swam off just as fast and circled wide around us.
We all surfaced and recapped the many extraordinary things we saw while diving.
We had to wait 1 hour until we could dive our second SCUBA tanks so we drove the boat over to a big rusty barge that is wrecked near shore of an island. It sticks out above the water, high on one side. Rich and Jerrod climbed up it to jump off - like cliff jumping. We played around for a while and then headed to our second dive spot, ocean side of the atoll.
Anyway, by now we were ocean-side of the atoll heading toward the pass that we travel through to get into the lagoon and back to Kwajalein.
We three could see a white shadowy body just below his feet. It was then that I realized that he wasn't being clumsy- instead he was frantic and panicking! We didn't have a shark on the line, we had Rich holding on the line for dear life with a shark hunting him, posturing, and preparing itself to eat him! Finally we got him to the side of the boat and Jerrod hoisted him up, over, and in before anything happened.
Freaky FREAKY! So Rich was totally shocked and upset as he told us his story....
While in the water he saw a really BIG shark 30-40 feet below him in the distance. It looked at him and them swam directly up at him until it was right off his fins. Its face had scars and gashes, was about 15 ft long and had an incredibly large girth compared to the gray reef sharks we are used to seeing; its coloring was much more predatorily looking – extremely white belly / dark back.
Rich maintained eye contact with it and his feet/flippers between he and the shark. He felt he must maintain eye contact to avoid a possible bite and also so if he did get bit he could have some control over what part of his body be targeted.
There were all sorts of large dog-toothed tuna and other fish around but the shark was only interested in one thing – my husband! It stayed just inches off his fins right up until we actually pulled him out of the water and into the boat.
F I S H I N G... the happy climax....
He had a BIG catch! We were all excited as the guys battled to reel the rope in with his hand line, talking about "what if it's a shark - what are we going to do with it" since we didn’t have the right equipment with us but we wanted to keep it. The fish was flipping around in the water and fighting hard. As it got closer we saw yellow flashes. Donna said "Look, it’s yellow!" We looked at each other and all at the same time realized it wasn't a shark. It was Yellow Fin Tuna! - The yummiest fish in the ocean! hahaHA! Jerrod literally started jumping up and down and we were laughing and celebrating like a boat full of little kids. We were all so excited!
The guys pulled it up to the boat and it was BIG ~ 50 lbs of pure muscle thrashing and beating against the boat. We didn't have any of the regular fishing equipment with us so Jerrod reached down, grabbed it by the tail with both hands, and together he and Rich hoisted it into the back of the boat. It was thumping and jumping like crazy in the boat, almost high enough to hop out and back in the water. Donna and I scrambled to move dive gear out of the way (not wise to have even a hint of the smell of fish blood on SCUBA gear). Jerrod beat the catch in the head with his fist and slit the gills open with a dive knife so it would bleed out and die quicker.
Now, I don't know if you can see it since Jerrod's muscles are such a distraction ;o) but the scale reads 47lbs...
from using needlefish and a hand line! Haha!
After a hot shower, later that evening we got together for dinner and to look at our pictures and movies. The sashimi was great! We looked up the type of shark Rich was being stocked by… oceanic white tip. Google it – I dare you! Even Jacques Cousteau thought the oceanic white tip was the freakiest of all sharks!!
It took a few days to process everything and weeks before we could laugh about it… swimming with 15-30 gray reef sharks at Troy’s Coral Head, the horror of Rich's close encounter, the oddity of snagging a needle fish through a bird pile, and the joy of catching and eating yellow fin tuna with our friends on this beautiful little island out in the middle of the equtorial Pacific that we call home. It truly was an amazingly crazy Kwajalein day!
Photos: Jerrod English, a few from Jane Erekson, and one shark picture was spliced from a movie shot by Dan Morgan (different dive at Troy's with Rich and Jarem, but the sharks all look the same crazy-mean at Troy's Coral Head no matter what day it is).