The Spearfishing Tax Man: Sharks, Big Fish, Eels, Seals, and Dolphins
Spearfishermen and women have been taxed by marine life from the start. For those unfamiliar with the term “Getting Taxed”, it refers to when you harvest a fish then some other creature fights you for your fish. The nice way to think about it is the ocean getting its taxes from your enjoyment of the resource. That being said, no one likes having to pay taxes to the spearfishing tax man.
Sharks – The Main Spearfishing Tax Man
Sharks are probably one of the most common creatures to tax a fish from a diver. Different species of sharks are found all over the world. It should be no surprise that almost all of them eat fish in a predatory, or opportunistic way. Some species of fish are renowned for being difficult to land because of their proximity to voracious sharks. Dogtooth Tuna come to mind as the primary example. As you spend more time in the water, sharks are just an accepted part of the sport. You learn to read their behavior better, and have an idea of how to best land your fish around them… at least most of the time. When it comes down to it, no fish is worth your life, or your hand or foot.
Some divers use the Freedom 7 Shark Shield as a means of deterring sharks from taking their catch. This tends to be a more proactive approach, where powerheads tend to be a more reactive method of dealing with sharks.
There are plenty of other big fish out in the ocean that can steal your catch just as effectively as any shark. In the South Eastern United States the Goliath Grouper is on of the most notorious Tax Men in the ocean. They are relentless and do not fear divers.
Other than large reef fish there are also some pelagic species, like Barracuda, which can be found in blue water or on the reef. They are fast, and their teeth will cut a fish in half faster than you can blink.
Eels are not the most common tax men out there, but they have defiantly stollen their fair share of free meals off the ends of spears. They can get pretty aggressive to divers. They have razor sharp teeth, and two full sets of them. Eels do not have tongues to move food to the back of their mouths, they have a second jaw that rests in their thought that launches forward to just behind their teeth to pull food back. It’s like the movie alien, but the second jaw doesn’t launch forward of the teeth.
Seals and Sea Lions as the Spearfishing Tax Man
In some parts of the world seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals have been known to steal fish. While it is certainly impressive to see these animals in the water you should always remember they are essentially feral dogs that are able to move through the water infinitely more effectively than you. They can also weigh several hundreds of pounds and can be aggressive, especially when they feel threatened.
Dolphins are tricky tax men. I haven’t heard of too many divers losing their fish to dolphins directly, but I have seen them clear out a spot of fish. I have also heard plenty of stories of dolphins taxing hook and line fishermen. Dolphins are amazing to see in the water, but they are still competing for the same resource as you.
Probably the worst tax men out there are your own dive buddies. I can’t count how many times I have been diving down to shoot a fish I have been hunting and stalking, only for a buddy of mine to cut in front of me and shoot this fish. Talk about a frustrating situation. It doesn’t matter how many drops you’ve done, or how much you had to learn about that fish to start lining up on it. The second your buddy’s spear hit that fish it stopped being yours. It still sucks though.