Blue water: Diana Bank, Bahamas

Into the blue at Diana Bank, 30 miles south of Long Island, Bahamas. The bank is an offshore pinnacle, exposed to wind and swell: an island no longer able to reach the surface of the sea. Days calm enough to get there are rare in winter, but a window of good weather gave us the chance to make the run. The crew included Atil Tosun, our captain and host, Ren Chapman, husband of U.S. and world record holding freediver Ashley Futrual, and local charter captain Luke Maillis, whose knowledge of the bank was a big factor in our success.

Diana Bank rises from thousands of feet of water to within 20m (65 feet) of the surface. Upwelling currents bring in baitfish, which bring in larger fish, which in turn bring in sharks. We hoped to catch fish and film sharks, and weren’t disappointed by either.

Leaving Clarence Town harbor at 06:15, we raced south to the bank, the sun rising brilliantly to our left. By 7:30 we were trolling the bank, and within minutes landed our first wahoo. By noon we’d have over 400 pounds of wahoo, plus a couple of mahi mahi. Both are spectacular fish—fast, and brilliantly colored in the water—and great to eat.

By mid morning the fish boxes were nearly full, and we hopped in the water. I hoped to spear a wahoo: tricky business with a spear gun, and trickier here in the Bahamas where spear guns are verboten. I was limited to a pole spear, a metal pole with a barb at one end and elastic band at the other, attached to a float line and buoy: the idea is to shoot a fish, let it run against the buoy, and retrieve it before the sharks devour it. Not great odds to spear and land one, but a good excuse to see magnificent fish in their own environment.

Wahoo on line

The wahoo seemed to know my plan, passing by for a look, but out of range of the pole spear. Turning my attention to floor of the pinnacle, I swam downward, and saw a large hogfish cruising the bottom. I thought I could spear it, and maybe even swim it up to the boat before the sharks made a meal of it. Then I lurched to a stop: float line fully extended, the buoy stopped dead at 17m (55 feet)—I could keep going, but not with the spear. Feeling that karma was against spearing, and surrounded by inquisitive sharks, I swapped pole spear for camera (a GoPro, but better than nothing). Ren and I spent the next hour shooting still and video of sharks, who seemed more than happy to cooperate.

Reef shark, Diana Bank

By 14:00 we were on our way back to Clarence Town, looking forward to many evenings of fresh wahoo!