Let me start by saying that I’ve never spearfished. But if I had, I’d imagine that the very last thing I would ever want to hear from my fishing buddy after returning to the surface would be, “Holy sh*t, did you see that tiger shark behind you?”
That’s exactly what Tom Horn heard from his fishing partner Zach Dunlevy after surfacing from a free dive at the Frying Pan Tower earlier this week.
As they arrived at the tower for a day of spearfishing, they prepped their gear and Zack took the first freedive. He spotted a good size cobia but missed the shot. When he surfaced, he told Tom to go after the fish. Tom breathed up and then descended in pursuit of the cobia. He was facing the tower support legs and was distracted by numerous amberjacks in the area. He searched for the cobia but had no luck. As he reached his air limit, he resurfaced and that’s when Tom surprised him with the tiger shark question (35 sec mark).
Although Tom had his GoPro HD 2 camera mounted on his head, he did not catch a shot of the tiger shark but you do get to hear his response when asked about the shark. After learning of a tiger in the water, the two calmly returned back to the boat.
Back at the boat, Tom and Zach told the other spearfishermen about the tiger encounter and the large cobia. Their response was to jump right in as they didn’t want to miss a chance at seeing a tiger shark, nor did they want to let that fish get away. Tom and Zach were a tad more cautious. Zach had a device in his gear bag called a Shark Shield and it supposedly deters sharks using an electric field. Zach strapped it on and they both reentered the water with a slight sense of increased safety.
On Tom’s next dive, he shot a large permit fish as shown in the video. His primary concern at that point was that the struggling fish might attract the lurking tiger shark but fortunately for him, the tiger was never seen again. Tom said he was relieved when some smaller, less pugnacious sharks (seen in the video) showed up and took interest in his catch. Tom knew from his past experience of fishing in Hawaii, that if a tiger shark was still in the area, the smaller sharks would not have approached.
Tom stated that he was able to secure the permit fish with no issues and attributes the Shark Shield as possibly helping keep the smaller sharks at bay.
The fishing trip was a success as they bagged grouper, amberjack, taug, sea bass and a huge hog fish. And although the tiger shark was camera shy that day, Tom did capture some fantastic underwater images from around the Frying Pan Tower.