Part III Blue Shark rescue in La Jolla Cove
Now, at 30 feet in the kelp forest with about 900 psi left in my tank, I have this about 6 foot long blue shark pinned upside down on his back in the rocks. With the palm of my left hand pressing down moderately hard on his belly it is just possible for me slide my hand over to pinch onto the treble hook that is firmly affixed to his left pectoral fin. His tail at the other end is firmly in my right hand. I start twisting the treble hook out of his left pectoral fin with my left thumb and index finger. Got it! At this point it feels pretty good to have gotten this far with all of my body parts intact and no blood except the little bit from the wound in the sharks fin from the hook I just removed. Now he is free, the treble hook is between my thumb and index finger and my other three fingers now have the left pectoral fin firmly. I have to shove him off and hope he doesn't turn and thank me for all this by taking some part of me with him as he goes.
I lift him out of the reef upside down and rocking him forward and back in a long swinging motion, one, two, three , release, away you go right? Wrong !!!
When he takes off, he is so fast I don't get my left hand with the hook in it out of the way quick enough, and the treble hook now snags him at the tail. He takes out about 10 feet of line away from me, is yanked to a complete stop, then he turns back directly towards me as I'm trying to swim away. Lucky for me the line on the hook snags in the rocks again. It yanks him to an other complete stop and probably saved me from great bodily harm. But, darn it, he is snagged again, this time by the tail back down in the rocks.
Check air, jeepers, down to about 650 lbs! Check on John!
John is hovering off about the limit of visibility probably wondering what psycho ward they let me out of. My breathing is hard cause the heart rate went up a bit (ya think) when I saw Mr. Blue coming back at me. Check air again, John and I are now down to about 550 psi. Mr. Blue is down and not moving again. OK, looks like I have to do this all over again, air is really low. But, one more time; exhale, descend slowly, contact, pin him, roll him over. Unbelievable! It works a second time!
Now, twist the hook out with thumb and index finger, got it! But, heck what if I snag him again on the release? The hook is right next to his tail fin even though it is out of it.
Looking back at John I realize he has to take the hook from me. I start this hunching motion with my right shoulder holding the hook and tail up towards John. I want him to come over and take the hook out of my fingers before I release Mr. Blue. I sure don't have air, or luck enough to play with Mr. Blue a third time. John is not understanding or he simply is not buying into the rescue. He doesn't move.
I need to check air, 475 psi I'm guessing, don't really know at this point and I can't see my pressure gauge. Got to do something. OK John, I'll come to you! So, I start swimming around the rocks with the shark held upside down, getting more line free from around the rocks. When I think have enough free I turn and swim right towards John. Believe me, no one has seen eyes in a diving mask bigger than his as I come up to him with the shark in hand. He freezes. I start tapping towards his mask with the hook and shark tail. He gets it finally and takes the hook out of my hand. Then, with a swinging, rocking motion once again; one, two, three, loose, go Mr Blue\! I threw him off and forward. He takes off like a bat out of hell and disappears into wet, blue-green void Yeah!!! Shark rescue 101 !!!
So, John has the hook, turning to him I take it out of his hand., swim down the line, pick up the marlin lure and wind the remaining line around it and put it in my buoyancy compensator pocket. In the moment we surface we each have about 250 psi.
We look at each other. John says, "That was bloody brilliant mate, I can't believe you just did that." It is only now that I think, "Rod, you are out of your mind." But, the plus side is I am building good shark Karma.
Footnote: I took the lure and treble hook home, cut away most of the line, ran about 18 inches of the line from the hook to the lure, typed the date, time, and John's address in the UK on a sticker, put the sticker with the information on the marlin lure. That hook and lure are hanging in my office to this day. Anyone that doubts the veracity of this story can get the John's name and address in the UK from me if you so desire :)