Dusky shark makes off with lionfish meal
A diver told how a shark bumped into him before it “took off” with his spear and the fish impaled on it.
Tim Price was hunting invasive lionfish and planned to put any catch on the barbecue to serve for dinner.
But a dusky shark had other ideas and clamped hold of the fish, taking the weapon along with it.
Mr Price was part of a group diving off Cooper’s Island on Saturday and had two lionfish attached to his spear — one caught by him and one by his friend, Vanessa Conway — as he made his way back to shore.
The 28-year-old said: “It was right at that sunset time when you get a lot of fish getting active, it would have been about 6.50pm.
The shark came up and bumped me, his entire side came up and hit my side, then he pulled off and I saw him circle in front of me.
“He came back and just bit on to the fish, one little flick of his tail and he took off.
“It was so strong I couldn’t hold on to the spear. The last thing I saw was the shark swimming away with the shaft of the spear sticking out. I figured he won, I’m not going to go after it.”
Mr Price, of Smith’s, said the animal was a dusky shark between five and six feet long.
With his flippers on, he was sufficiently bigger than the fish and it had “very little interest” in him. He said: “It was definitely really cool to see. Initially, of course, there is a little bit of panic when you see a shark, but they’re not something that you need to be terrified of; they’re just doing their thing.”
Mr Price added: “They are very misunderstood and in the larger scheme of things pose very little threat to humans. It’s humans that pose a much more serious and realised threat to sharks.”
He said without the lionfish for the barbecue, he and his friends went for pizza instead.
Lionfish are native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, but began to be seen in the Atlantic in the 1990s and are presumed to have been introduced accidentally from home “exotic” fish tanks in southern Florida during Hurricane Andrew.
The species has since spread throughout the Caribbean and Western Atlantic — the first lionfish was caught in Bermuda in 2000.
They are said to be opportunists and eat anything they come across that will fit in their mouths.
Lionfish upset the balance of nature as Atlantic fish are not aware that they are predators and the invader can put great pressure on already vulnerable populations as they feed on young fish.
Lionfish culls and provisioning for restaurants are seen as a way of controlling their population.
Mr Price said: “If people are interested in getting involved in lionfish hunting they should check out the Bermuda Lionfish Culling Programme Facebook page.
“Lionfish are much more dangerous than sharks, not in that they — lionfish — are venomous but in the potential they have to eat all the juvenile reef fish and crustaceans and kill the reef.”