holy cow, guys!
my internet is down at home and i can only get on here at work. looks like i've missed quite a bit.
yeah, that was me who said "we all know freediving is one of the most dangerous hobbies out there."
i'll try to retain some brevity here...
2 months ago, i was in a dive store in miami picking up some things. while at the register, a little kid(couldn't have been more than 8yrs old) and his mom comes in. "can i help you?", asks the owner. "i want a harpoon", retorts the kid. "a harpoon?"(owner). "yeah, you know, one of those things that harpoons fish!"(kid). the manager looks back at one of his employess for some sort of acknowledgement. "hmmm, let me see..."(owner pulls down small speargun) "how about this?". "holy crap this is awesome, mom.. buy it!"
the owner asked the kid if he knew how to use it. the kid nodded yes without losing eye contact w/ the gun. well, not having spoken a single word, the mother walked out behind her kid and his new toy with the receipt to the $120 speargun.
after notifying the owner of his loss of a longtime customer, i raced out of the store. i caught up with the two and introduced myself. come to have it, the kid had only been diving right off the beach and had apparantly seen a fish. but, he only had a mask. no snorkel or fins, just a mask. anyways, the kid had no idea how to load the gun. i informed him of how the gun needed to be loaded before it could be fired. the 50lb kid couldn't even move the bands back on the gun. (although he tried for quite some time) i realized what i was doing, and immediately overwhelmed the kid with the complexities of spearfishing laws, regulations, and license costs. i also told him stories of all the sharks that come when you spear a fish. his eyes grew to the size of apples and i think his mom loaded her shorts. i told her the best thing for her to do for her son was to go buy a cheap pair of fins, a snorkel, and a few snorkeling books. actually, knowing how bad my spanish is, i probably told them to get into scuba diving
yeah, they took it right back inside. i kinda felt badly about the whole situation(you know, interfering with peoples' lessons), but i know what i did was right.
on the subject of regulating spearfishing...
i would really like to see some sort of regulations on the use of spearguns while using tanks. i think at least a cert. level greater than "open water" should be required. in both cases(scuba & freediving), i think a "harvest method" stamp should have to be purchased to go on your fishing license. with this, you'd need to sign something along the lines of "acknowledgement of self-endangerment". and, of course, minors would need a parent's sig as well. i think a required course would be difficult to enforce because of the relatively small percentage of spearfishermen.
i think that if you can afford to spear&scuba, you'd be smart enough to grant yourself suitable access to information from media or knowledgeable people. if not, why argue with letting the idiots take themselves out of the gene pool?
aquiles and i try our damndest to educate as many people as we can on spearfishing. i get letters everyday from people wanting to know more about what we do. lightyears short of being god's gifts to spearfishing, we beat to death the fact that spearfishing is a love and an art, not a fad hobby. (although i did mention freediving was a hobby, but i think it's more a love and an art as well.) from our perspective we find it much more gratifying to hear these new people talk about experiences and encounters rather than what they put in their coolers.
of all my interests, spearfishing stands above it all. it's too difficult to share this feeling of humbleness and exhilaration to anyone who has yet to experience it for themselves. i do believe that this sort of spiritual level keeps many from attaining the comfort level that will keep them in the water. i think freedive spearfishing has it's own sort of human filter, and allows only the more pure individual a certain "right of passage."
i think the safety of our future spearos pretty much resides in our own hands. i think it's pretty much our responsibility to share our knowledge and experience with the rest of the world. just take a look at some of the legends that have done just that. that was their era, ....now this one is ours.