Sunday, November 21, 2010

The time is far spent

well, my time here on this caribbean island is all but over and done. I have studied so much over the last 6 months that I havn't even got to spearfish. Actually, I did go about a 4 times but that was very uneventful. I have nothing to say but to say that I cant wait to get back to civilization. (if idaho is civilized) But I will be transforming this spearfishing blog into a bird hunting one. I liked the uniqueness of spearfishing, but hunting in the mountains is where my true love for nature lies. Seeing these exotic fish is always nice and they are pretty and all, but give me a bugling bull elk in a calm meadow on a crisp autumn morn and I'd be in heaven. As in, "kill me now, because it doesn't get any better then this." I have some underwater pictures on my camera that I will post when I get them developed, but plan on loads of Hungarian Partridge, Pheasant, and Chukar photos over the next few months!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Spear Fishing Spoils for March and April

So we have been going out a bunch over the last few weeks. We spent about 20 hrs in the ocean becasue the water was so clear, warm and crazy calm. We have seen all kinds of neat things such as Spotted Eagle Rays, millions of Sea Turtles, Tarpon, Barracuda, Squid, Eels, Grouper and so many other types that I cannot begin to name them all. My wife is quite annoyed that I have spending so much time out free diving but it is semester break after all.This shot doesn't quite do this fish justice. This is a Blue Bar Jack. I had a Dog Snapper cornered under a boulder at about 10 ft and I and gone down 5 times and just hadn't quite had a good shot at him. I went down one last time to get a shot at him and just as I got to the bottom this little beauty swam right in front of my cocked spear. I hit him well but he pulled off of my spear. There was a trail of blood that came streaming out of him. He was moving slowly so I hurried up and went down after him. I shot him again in the head and that was it. It turned out that I my first shot hit him right in the heart, he bled out quick.
This is a much larger Bar Jack. This one is obviously a black one. He tips the scale at about 15 lbs. The locals say that the black ones are poisonous, which we didn't find out until after the fact. With this fish we were swimming along and I went down after a small bar jack and when I came up for air, Greg was holding up this fish. He said that the big dummy just swam up to him and he shot it. crazy luck!
This is a Caribbean Spiny Lobster. They are larger than the typical Maine Lobster. Notice that they don't have any claws. We don't get chances at them all that often but when we do we take advantage of it. We have harvested some that had 3 lb tails and overall weighted 8 lbs! They are pretty tasty but not as good as the lobsters grown up north.
This is a Dog Snapper. Some have Black tiger-like stripes across their backs and others don't.This is a good sized one. He is about 5 lbs and as you can see they are all head. They do have a lot of meat on them as well. They are very good. They are the main focus of what we really want to kill when we go out spearfishing. It is a big treat whenever we get one. They are the hardest of all the fish that we see semi-regularly to hunt, they are super smart, but super duper yummy.(I wish that I could say that for all of the fish I have eaten here)
This is a Parrot Fish. They are very colorful and also difficult to hunt and kill. They come in all color types, from brown camo to blue and even green. Some are blandly colored but some are very pretty like this beauty. He too is about a five lb fish.

These are salt water snails. We collected about 25 of them on one calm day in the ocean. They ranged in size from baseball diameter to Lemon sized. They had no specific flavor, but were as rubbery as my Goodyears.
This picture was taken after they had cooked for about 45 min and then they would just pull right out of their shells.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sting Ray

     What have I been up to lately? I have been hard at work studying. I know that I need to get on here and update my goings on, but I haven't really had the time. I have been getting up at 3 am for the past two weeks in order to have time to get all of my material straight. So, by the time I get a bit of free time in the day, the last thing that I want to do is type. (I am about the worst typist ever) But over the last week My good spearfisng buddy (Greg) and I have been able to get out and do a bit of what we like to do.
      Last Thursday, Greg's son was here visiting and Greg really wanted to show Trent(the son) a good time. So Greg begged me for the previous few days to skip some precious study time and get out with them. It is a must to have at least two adults and if there were any more teenagers then one going with us we would have probably have needed another adult. We have never had any problems in the water, (if you don't count the day where I was having conciousness problems-That day every time I submerged the change in pressure was was giving me crazy vertigo. I swam down to about 15 feet and felt very disoriented. I couldn't hardly tell which direction the surface was. I was pretty weirded out and so I stayed on the surface for about a half-hour, and began feeling better. I got the gumption to go down after a large perot fish and when I got down about ten feet I got very dizzy and most of my field of vision went dark. I remember thinking, "This is not a good place to pass out!") Other than that day, I have felt very good in the ocean. I always(well, almost always) feel safe and secure.
       Greg, Trent and I arrived at the bay and got ready to hike around the corner of the island to a new place that was quite new to us. We hiked for about a half hour to a nice rocky beach and geared up. I always get a bit nervous when I go to a new spot. When I  don't know what to expect and my mind starts racing. As I was washing the spittle out of my mask I thought, "Man, why am I nervous like a little school-girl? I'm am not a rookie." Being nervous keeps you cautious I guess. I got into the water and got my fins clipped on. the water was cloudy but warm and I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to fish. But about 30 ft off the shore it was like I swam through a curtain and all of the sudden the water cleared up and the ocean floor came into view. I was astonished at how georgous this new spot was. As I go along here, spending about 4-8 hours per week in the water, I catch myself beginning to take the ocean for granted and I have to conciously remind myself to enjoy the beauty and the life that flurishes on the ocean floor. Off to one side there may be a school of saucer sized blue or green tropical fish, and at the same time there may be green, purple, yellow or white coral growing along the rock outcropping to my left. I am constantly amazed how teaming with life this beautiful turquoise ocean is.
     We swam along for about an hour admiring the beauty of this new spot and watching sea-life go bye, almost totally undisturbed by us. It is fascinating to watch the hundreds of fish and how they interact with their environment and with each other. There seems to be all stages of life constantly playing out below us. There are small fish that seem to be playing; chasing eachother in and out of the holes in the rocks, teenage fish that seem as if they are flirting; nipping at eachother and then dashing off as the other gives chase, and old grumpy fish who seem to be just protecting their spot in this big, big world. I was watching (hunting) a medium sized yellow tailed snapper a few months back. As I was following him along,waiting for him to hide so I could go down after him, he darted into a big hole beneath the reef. He was inside for about 5 seconds before he came flying back out. On his "heels" was another snapper about 4 times his size chasing him out as if to say,"This is my hole. Find your own spot" I would have laughed out loud, had my face not been in the water.
      Recently Greg and I took one of our classmates out to give her a tour of the ocean and all that lies therin. She was constanly ooing and aweing at so many things that have become second nature to me. She helped me come back down to earth and realize how truly blessed I am to have these experiences in my life. Thanks Sheaba! Anyway, I digress again.
     As the three of us swam along there were numerous fish that were huntable size. I told Greg several times that we needed to go after them but he had dreams of shooting a very large fish instead of the 3-4 lb ones that were all around. Another of our classmates keeps telling us that we need to get some stingray becasue is is awesome. So after about an hour, Greg spots a Stingray in about 30-35 ft of water. He goes down and checks it out and comes back up to say that he thought it was big enough and that we could shoot it if I wanted to. I was somewhat impartial and told him that if he wanted it, then to go for it. So after taking a few seconds to catch his breath, Greg again submerges to go see if the stingray will hold still long enough to get a shot at it. He only got about half way down, and game back up gasping for air. He had been free-diving a bit too much and had warn himself out. He then told me that I should try for it. I took two deep breaths and then I was off. I dolphin kicked my way down to the floor and held up between its two eyes, letting my spear fly. I hit him and after making sure that my spear was all the way through its cartlagenous body, started for the surface. He was stronger than I had immagined. About half way to the surface I found that he was begining to pull me down, back to the ocan floor. Before I knew it Greg was at my right and Trent at my left. All of the sudden this poor stingray had three spears in it. I was begining to feel the need to have more air and so I handed my spear to 15-year-old Trent and headed for some much needed air.
      I blew my snorkel clean and looked back down to see the ray,with my spear hanging out of it, at the bottom and swimming away. Just then I hear Greg yell, "BARACCUDA!"
     That was pretty much the last thing that I wanted to hear. I searched the surface franticly to see, off to my right, the 5 ft baraccuda and his enterauge of 6 inch fish. He was just under the surface about 15 ft away. Greg swam over in front of me and said, "I got the baraccuda. You go get the ray." Yeah right! I knew there was no way that if I went down after that fish that Greg could stop the baraccuda from taking a big chunck out of me. But I also wasn't going to let the ray swim off with my spear to die. I grabbed Trents spear from him and once again; down I went. It only took Greg telling me to go about 3 times! I got down at his nose and fired Trents spear exactly between his eyes and grabbed my spear. I proceeded made a b-line for the surface. I got back up and Greg told me to get out of there. Without giving it a second thought, I was off to the shore. I didn't have a clue where the big preditor was, but I hoped that I could get out of his sight-and fast. I collapsed on the shore with my legs and lungs buring, so thankful for dry earth once more.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Just Another Day in Paradise

It's sad when your life isn't interesting enough to have anything to write, and its been two weeks since my last post. In the last two weeks What have i done? Nothing really, I have just been boring and un-interesting. The only thing that I ever do that is enjoyable is fish and if you've posted about it once you've posted about it a million times. But the water has been very nice over the last few days and psych let out a bit early yesterday. So Greg and two of my other classmates and I went down to get in the ocean. From the island road, 1200 ft up, the water appeared as glass, so SMOOTH! We went down and as we got by the water's edge we could see that off the sore 50 ft the ocean was amazingly nice. But there was a weird break happening. The water around the shore would just start to regress and then a big wave would just form from nowhere. It was so weird. But, we walked down around the point to where we only get to go if the water is just perfect.
We got set up and got in. Visibility for the first 70 ft was horrible. It was so cloudy that it was making me claustrophobic. But once I got out past the weird rip-tide, the water was perfect. I called to the others to hurry up and get out there. It was no sooner then the others showed up and we came into a school of huge parrot fish, some of the largest that I have seen. They were probably 5-6lbs and they were the nice blue kind. So we went after them but alas they were too good for us to get close enough with our pole spears(we need to get within about 2 ft to kill one). We fished for a bit and there were nice(2-3 lb) parrot fish everywhere. we got a few and were on track to get 3 or 4 more in the next 20 minutes that we had before the water got too dark. The sun was going down and I looked at Greg only to see him pointing frantically behind me. I turned to see a nice 5-6 ft barracuda about 10 ft behind me. the next thing I knew there he was right up on us. he swam about 3 ft from the end of my spear(which I had ready to spear his little brain). I tod myself that if he got any closer that I was going to stick him right behind his big black eye. He swam around us for a minute or two keeping a bit more distance between us. As soon as he was a little ways off we made a break for the shore. It was scary but not so bad as Greg and I both were ready to shoot if he didn't stay off out fish. I want to shoot a nice barracuda but i am reluctant to shoot him with a 5 ft. pole spear at the risk of making him (and his big sharp teeth) upset.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Dangerous Deep

It has sure been a long week. We had 8-5 classes mon thru thurs. I was very bad, but we had to get ahead in immuno because our teacher had an emergency and was leaving the island for a few weeks. But as a result we only had neuro on friday. So I came in and worked on neuro in the morning before class, which was actually a lab. My lab group is awesome. All but one of us is a married-old guy and so we are all serious about using this time wisely and it was very beneficial. But as soon as lab was over it was playtime! Greg, my fishin' buddy and I got into out swim trunks and went out to hit the ocean. When we got down there the water was angry. It was throwing big ole' waves up onto the shore but we are a couple of hardy, not to mention die hard, fisher-men. We waited for about 15 minutes to find a calm enough window to get in. It wouldn't be so bad if we had a boat and we could just drive out and jump in but getting in from the sore adds a whole new dimension to it. The last thing that we really want is to get smashed up against the rocks and bang our faces to pieces. Especially since our island doesn't have a hospital and we would have to get life flighted to St. Martin. So we found a semi-calm window and got in the ocean. After we gout out in the 7 ft swells we realized that there was zero visibility. I couldn't see the tip of my spear and it was only about 3 ft from my face. We swam out to see if it would get better further from the shore. We swam out about 80 yards before we decided that it was time to turn back. Now, getting in the water is hard but, it is WAY easier then getting out. We swam up to about 20 yards from the edge. Close enough to be close to dry ground but far enough away that we wouldn't get destroyed if a monster wave came at us. I sat there bobbing for about 5 minutes watching for my chance to make a break for the shore. I wasn't too scared. I knew that I would probably get rolled up onto the rocks but I thought the sooner I get out of the water the better.(I think that Greg was a bit more nervous then I was) All I knew is that I wanted to keep my head and face from playing ping pong with the gigantor rocks. I saw what I thought was a big enough window to make my run and I was off like a shot. I was about on my feet in about 4 feet of water(with big fins on that make it impossible to walk just in time to hear Greg holler something that was indistinguishable due to the unmistakable roar of what sounded like a tidal wave bearing down on me. I reflexively reached to grab any rock I could and tried to hold on tight, but a moss covered rock is hard to handle and in an instant I was like a monkey in a barrel rolling down a mountain side. I recall noticing that my fins were up out of the water at-least once and perhaps two to three times. By the time I got my barrings and was calling up the boulders on my hands and knees wondering if i had broken anything. As far as I could tell I was still in one piece but I had to get to safe ground before the next wall of water knocked me down. As it turned out I escaped with a few cuts down my left arm, a nice scrape across my back, a grapefruit sized bruise on my left thigh, two bleeding knees and my life. I knew that it might hurt but I was happy to be able to walk out on my own power. I stood up on a rock in order as to see out a ways so that I could tell Greg when it was safe to make for the shore. He got out without too much trouble. So we had an adventurous day in the Caribbean. You never know what kind of adventure awaits in the ocean but it is best to do all you can to keep from self imposed injury. We really wanted to get out and do some fishing but we were stupid. We now know better.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dealing With Disappointment

Today was a sad day. First of all, the team that I REALLY wanted to win th Superbowl lost. The Vikings came out looking great then as the game came down to the wire they gave the game away. They had more then one chance to take the lead in the 4th quarter but gave the ball back to the Saints three times in field goal range(that I can think of off the top of my head). Also, all of yesterday the ocean was so perfect. There was no wind, and the water was so flat that the sky was reflecting off the surface. It was calm, so calm in fact that we could see where the currents were. Anyway, my friend and I decided that we were going to skip Psych and go out spearfishing. I was excited to get out in nice water. We haven't been out in nice water for about 5 months. I think that the last time we had that perfect of water was early October. I was going to try out our new under-water camera and everything. So I awoke this morning to a very blustery day. From our house (about 1000 ft above the water) I could see ginormous waves. From the moment I saw those ominous white-caps, I knew that the perfect day of spearfishing I had envisioned now seemed as far removed in the past as graduation seems in the future. I was crushed. It is a big blow to go from looking forward to a great day in the ocean one minute, to being faced with 4 hrs of the most boring thing you can imagine the next.
So when we got to immuno first thing she (we'll call her Dr. X) told us was that she had to go back to the US for a family emergency and that she was moving the rest of our immuno class to the end of the semester and moving micro up into its place. (sort of a schedule frame shift) So the whole class was excited to be so close to being done with immuno and Dr. X but alas she will come back and lecture us at the end of the semester. So that was a mixed bag of good and bad news. Sounds like bad news for her. I really don't think that she would go back in the middle of the semester if it wasn't a serious reason.
In neuro we had the teacher lecture with whom we had had some trouble. He hasn't been sticking to the schedule and we were behind for a lot of the first block because of it. We had cerebellum on tap for the day and I was optimistic coming in. So he showed up today and actually taught what was scheduled. He did stay on schedule but he just doesn't have a strong grasp of the material and that is a bit disheartening but, I can read the book if need be. Not that I own the book but, I can check it out for a week at a time from the pathetic school library. He really seemed to love the Vermis of the Cerebellum. he probably said that word 50 times in 2 hrs. he covered the anatomy well but the afferent and efferent tracts of the Cerebellum was a complete mess. The poor man means well but he just doesn't know the small details that we need to know to understand the goings on there. He has real world experience but he obviously has little academic experience.
The day did end on a good note. As I had mentioned earlier we were going to be in psych for 4 hrs this afternoon. But after only 2.5 hrs of absolute torture we were freed!

Just another day in a caribbean med school

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our Island

I have added these few pictures onto the page to give an idea of what some of the landscape is like. My neighbor just brought over some fresh squeezed tangerine juice and wow was it amazing. It is hard to live in the caribbean but someone has to do it!