The Dangers Of Diving Clear Water

A Story With A Lesson

Hey there, spearos. This is The Stone Shot, your weekly dose of spear content (and maybe some fishing, but we try to keep it below the water line)

Here’s what we have for you today:

  • A Story: The dangers of diving in clear water

  • World Record Of The Week: Alligator gar

  • Video: Massive marlin w/ limited resources

The Story

The Dangers Of Diving In Clear Water

Spearfishing is a dangerous sport. There are the obvious stories of SWB, predators, and LMC. Additionally, there are tales of diving in poor visibility, losing sight of your dive buddy, and facing adverse weather conditions.

But what about diving in the clear, warm waters of paradise? That's supposed to be safe, isn't it?

Well, apparently, that comes with some other risks that aren't talked about as much.

For this story, we spoke with Max Augliere, a spearfishing guide in Rhode Island. Max has been spearing since he was 19 and has thousands of hours in the water.

First Trip To The Bahamas

“My buddy told me on our way over from Florida to West End "It's extremely clear, be careful.””

He was right.

Max was used to diving the murkier waters of up north. And when you’ve been diving as much as Max had, you develop habits and visual cues.

Cues like seeing the bottom and thinking it’s no more than 35 feet down…

The Unintended Deep Dive

Max recounts the day -

“We left at 4 am to head to the Bahamas. It was a clear sky day, the water was slicked out like glass.

We checked into customs and jumped in our first spot shortly after. The bottom was 30 feet deep and slowly dropped off to about 80 with a ledge that went to about 130 feet. It was insane, I've never seen anything like it, fish everywhere. It almost feels like you are flying above the ground because the water is so clear. You could see black grouper on the sand in 130 feet from the surface, they looked like submarines.

I started diving in 30 feet, and slowly followed a grouper on the bottom. I came back up, and continued to follow the grouper from the surface. I focused in and got tunnel vision. Seeing a fish from the surface was entirely new to me. It went into a hole and peeked its head out, so I made my drop.

I had never used a pole spear before, so that was a little awkward for me. When I touched down, I stalked the fish, lined up the shot, and let it fly. It was a stone shot (not common for me at the time by any means) however, unknown to me, the tip didn't go all the way through the fish.

I began heading up, but the fish slipped off the spear and started drifting back down. I turned around, grabbed the fish, and checked my dive watch and it read 70 feet. I looked up, and had a second of panic as I realized how far down I was and how little breath I had. I clung back to my focus lightly and just tried to kick as gently as I could back to the surface.

I made it back, my buddies were right next to me, and everything ended up being fine. That stuck with me forever, and I took a lot of lessons that day.”

6 Lessons Learned

Luckily, Max didn’t black out that day. However, this is a story all too common in the spearfishing community, which sometimes does not have as fortunate an outcome.

Max leaves us with 6 lessons that we can all learn from:

1) I took a freediving course (which I highly recommend)

2) I learned that my personal risk profile in spearfishing comes from when I'm very focused on an object - such as grabbing a lobster out of a hole, or untangling a fish from a reef. I tend to focus and lose track of my time. Each of us have a set of static risk that just come from spearfishing in general and the environment, and then I believe we have personalized risk as well. With that awareness, I'm extremely mindful of what the cost of my focus can be, so I hedge against it.

3) Don't ever turn around on a dive.

4) Know the depth you're in.

5) Don't be too object-level focused, be extremely mindful of the environment as a whole. Where the boat is, what the clouds are doing, where you're buddies are, does the anchor look secure? Am I drifting? What are the tendencies and personal risk profiles of the buddies I'm with....If you are just focusing on that pair of lobster antennae, you can get in trouble.

6) Get to know a new environment and cut your working threshold in half of your working capacity in a place you are comfortable with.

If you’re in the New England area, book a trip with Max at Spearfishing Rhode Island.

World Record Of The Week

Alligator Gar

Weight: 235.0 lbs/106.6 kg

Spearo: Darren Carr

Location: Texas, United States

Date Speared: Aug 3, 2018

(Read the story here)


Next time you’re complaining about your gear - remember this guy who shot a massive marlin with limited resources. Click play to watch video

That’s it for us! We’ll see you back here next week.

PS - We’re in the search for great spearfishing stories. This could be crazy experiences in the water, unique spearing methods or exotic spearfishing trips.

Any stories of your own that you'd be willing to tell? Respond to this email and we’ll send over a short questionnaire!

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