The sense that somethings not right and the constant distraction like a buzzing bee hovering around your head.
Yep, you’ve just seen a shark OR your imagination (or 6th sense) has just triggered your anxiety. Not a pleasant feeling and one that most of us who dive in waters with plenty of the ‘men in grey suits’ aka ‘the taxman’ can empathize with. Although, like many things in life that scare you, exposure can steadily desensitize you. The caveat to this is to NEVER lose your respect for sharks OR believe that you ‘have control of them’ because you don’t.
“Newbie spearo here (got my first fish the other day) with a question: How do I manage shark anxiety? I know the stats and ‘rarity’ of being attacked, but I just can’t shut off the anxiety switch. I need to get past this as providing for myself is a large life goal. Cheers for your help in advance.” – Lee (Rewritten from a Facebook Group Spearfishing Victoria)
Some good advice and wisdom was shared following this post;
Galin“Someone told me that a trip to QLD and diving with the blokes up there can break any shark anxiety. Maybe worth a go?”
Blake“Second Galin. I went to QLD and dived in some crappy vis. When I got back to Melbourne I didn’t even think about sharks anymore.”
Luke “With any anxiety, you slowly introduce yourself to the environment that is making you feel that way until your brain no longer perceives it as a threat. So start by doing short trips and you’ll eventually adjust.”
These guys have tapped into some wisdom here. Psychologists describe this process as desensitization and if done gradually can habituate spearos to obstructive fears. Over time they find that their reactions to sharks and/or situations where they begin to experience anxiety decreases. Exposure can help to weaken previously learned associations between sharks and bad outcomes (think JAWS movies). Possibly the greatest benefit to healthy shark exposure teaches spearos that they are capable of confronting their fears and can manage the anxiety. During positive exposure to sharks, a spearo can learn to attach new, more realistic beliefs about sharks, shark behavior and how to adapt their own personal response to them.
Accept anxiety, don’t fight it, sit with it and learn to bear it. It will diminish.
Learn breathing techniques to relax on the surface and reduce fear and anxiety.
Being in situations with sharks when the water is clean and the sharks are relatively calm can acclimatize you to the fear.
Turn fear into curiosity – learn about sharks. Observe their behaviour. Research their body language and cues. Knowledge dispels fear (gradually).
Ground yourself in the moment by paying attention to the details.
Prepare to not be prepared. Do what is in your control and listen to your dive buddy.
Is it worth it?
Sharks an be unpredictable and dangerous, they can kill you. They are often big, unimaginably fast, sometimes sneaky and you are in their environment however MOST of the time they are wary of us and you can learn techniques to dissuade their attention. You can also avoid shark red flag moments to minimize the risk too;
🚩 Dusk – when the last light of the day hits the water, sharks can be at their most erratic.
🚩 Struggling Fish – blood in the water is far less of a turn-on for sharks than a fish flailing on a hook and line OR a spear. Dispatch quickly and spearfish in pairs/groups.
🚩 Dirty Water – Brisbane Bullsharks are notorious for their confidence in dirty water and they aren’t alone. When you see big sharks in <6/7Meters (20ft) vis, get out and move spots.
“I don’t want to not live because of my fear of what could happen. If you stop exploring, everything becomes smaller. Fear is an unbelievable motivator. Fear is a natural response. Without it, we wouldn’t survive. Meet up with your fears. If you’re afraid of sharks, go learn all about sharks. Get into the water with one.” – Laird Hamilton.
What Do You Think?
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Which technique from today’s post are you going to use first?
Are you going to get in the water with sharks? Or try some breathing techniques to calm down?
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.
There are plenty of ways to improve your spearfishing. Here are five spearfishing mistakes to avoid next time you go diving. This list was sent to us by Eckart Benkenstein, spearo and freediving instructor
This is a classic mistake that we’ve all made and is generally caused by diving out of our depth or not being confident enough to reach the bottom. Improving your diving ability will improve your depth. Having a good buddy that is drilled in good buddy technique will also allow you to relax a little more and push a little deeper knowing your buddy is there for you.
This mistake also limits your ability to shoot reef fish as you are out in the open for everything to see. Being on the bottom will conceal you and allow fish to unwittingly move into range of your gun.
Big predators of the grey variety are often seen swimming mid water. Not something we want to emulate if we want to get closer to the fish.
Another classic Noob mistake. Fast movements underwater have a couple of implications. Firstly fast movements tell fish that you’re a predator. Sharks move quickly when they’re agitated and feeding. Pelagic fish will move quickly when in a feeding frenzy as well. It sends the message that you’re a threat that should be avoided.
Secondly, fast movements increase your heart rate underwater and that means increased oxygen consumption, loss of relaxation and ultimately shorter dives.
You need the right tools for the job. It’s a simple task to get the right gear. Anyone local that’s been diving in your local area will tell you what you need. Knowing what to buy straight up will save you money and you’ll get comfortable using the right gear from the start. I’m not talking about brands here, though there are some to avoid. I’m talking about the practicalities of your gear like the length of your gun, thickness of your wetsuit and the stiffness of your fins to name a few.
Don’t be afraid to ask a retailer, local diver or someone from a club, it will save you time and money.
Just swimming around
Eckart says a common problem he sees is guys just swimming around hoping to bump into a fish. Eckart says you should target a fish and and learn the conditions that will help you to find that target fish in your area. Wind, tides, water temperature and any seasonal migrations are a great place to start. Get on the Google and do some research or get into a club and learn off the locals. You only get so many hours in the water, make the most of them.
If you manage to overcome the midwater warrior phase and get yourself on the bottom you may be making bunny ears with your fins. You might have your body pressed low against the bottom ready to strike but it will mean little if your fins are waiving around above your head. Get long and low to keep your fins connected to the bottom. High fins let the fish know exactly where you are like waving a flag above your head.
Q2. Is it OK to supplement additional photos with beautiful spearo photography (e.g. the hunt/the adventure/the dive/the kelp/etc) to bolster our submissions?
Q3. Hey Shrek bro, did you guys need photos with the recipes we submit or just the recipe? I have a few but don’t have photos at the moment?
You have it right , photos are pretty important and you can’t even submit the recipe unless there is at least 1 photo. The good news is that submissions are open to Aug 30 so you have plenty of time to get some together if you have a chance to spear and cook. We have 39 submissions as of 13.07.2021 so far:) – Shrek]
Q4. I’m having trouble uploading photos to the link. The error message says my photo files are not compatible. What can I do?
Sending photos through the submissions form helps us out with the editing process. However, if you are having trouble sending them, don’t worry: we’ve got your back! Send us your files via WeTransfer or Dropbox to [email protected].
(Please make sure you use the same email in both the recipe submission and the WeTransfer/Dropbox, so we can identify your photos)
Q1. Many of our recipes are super simple, like the scallop ceviche, or the dry aged sushi, but there is one aspect of the meal that requires time (e.g. making tapioca pearl chicharrones is suuuper easy, but takes about 3 hours to dehydrate before frying… or aging a fish is literally leaving it in a bag on ice for 2-4 days… or making sushi rice is really easy, but rice takes like 45 min to cook… or making fish stock takes 30 min but you can work on other aspects of the meal while it renders). Are these recipes OK to include and submit?
Q2. What happens if you get too many Ceviche Recipes or Baked Fish Recipes?
Q3. Would you be interested in a section of your book for staples that are used in many recipes like a standalone section for how to make sushi rice or fish stock or how to make rad looking garnishes that are easy and make any meal look 100x cooler? Then in the recipes for say a sushi roll, instead of adding all the text on how to make sushi rice, you just say refer to page xx.
Yes, I’m super keen on this. I am going to have some dedicated sections for cornerstone content like a guide to smoking fish then 3 smoked fish recipes. I’m super keen on your idea for this.
Q4. Who do I put as the Spearo Chef Author if I am part of an Organization?
Name, Organization for example; Isaac ‘Shrek’ Daly, Noob Spearo
Q5. Can I sign up to get an early copy of the first book?
Yes, we have an editing and design team doing their best to make sure the recipe is presented in a way that readers from everywhere can read and adapt to their area. We also have design and space limitations!
I recorded this interview live on a recent Patron Funded trip to South Australia. I stopped off on the way back to Melbourne in Portland, Victoria and got to chat to Aaron overlooking some of his pristine diving/lobster chasing grounds. This interview has heaps of great intel for people wanting to chase Southern Rock Lobster, Southern Bluefin Tuna or even just start spearing in the Victoria/South Australia area. Listen in to Aaron Edmonds share his story and stoke right here!
04:00 Welcome to Aaron Edmonds – live in Portland, Victoria. Getting started spearfishing and a bit about his commercial diving experience.
08:45 Early lessons learned spearfishing
10:00 Chasing Lobster or Crayfish
21:30 Scary Moment | Cramping Out in a Cave
29:25 Funny Moments with Jamie
32:00 Underwater Photography | Catching the Bug
40:00 Southern Bluefin Tuna | The Learning Curve!
52:50 Taking out juniors and sharing the stoke
58:40 Spearo Q&A
Who has been the most influential person in your spearfishing journey?
What are the best spearfishing resources for new spearos?
What is your dream spearfishing destination and fish?
Could you describe what the spearfishing experience means to you in one sentence
This episode is all about getting the word out about the all new Australian Spearfishing Course (in association with AUF) that will reach the next generation of spearos. We discuss how Adam Stern, Tom Sandstrom and the AUF are getting qualified crew into clubs to help teach groms and new spearos coming up about basic safety and physiology. Tommy and Adam “We will be creating a freediving for Spearfishing course that we want to role out throughout the country over the next 12-18 months, which we hope to have available for free to auf club members or at a super cheap price.” Listen in as the boys drop some knowledge bombs while we learn about this cool new initiative!
Australian Spearfishing Courses | Important Times
07:00 @tommy_dozz introduction and background 09:30 The motivation behind doing the Freediving Instructor Course 15:00 Freediving courses for spearos? 22:00 Being a good spearfishing buddy 25:00 Pool training? Is it relevant for spearfishing? 35:00 Teaching people to spearfish 40:00 How Tommy started out in the water and introduction to spearfishing 42:00 Coffs Harbour Spearfishing Conditions and Fishery 44:20 Rotating your spearfishing through different spots 48:00 Adam Stern Drops In Late! 58:00 Three Active Components to Spearfishing | Equipment, Hunting and Freediving 61:00 Spearfishing Dolphin Fish aka MahiMahi 64:00 What happens in a Spearfishing Instructors Course?
What is in this spearfishing course?
What about the experience of the course? Did you have some characters in there?