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June 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 24, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Bahamas Bull Shark Bites Back at Irked Spearfisher

from the June, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Luis Hernandez, 48, spent two weeks in a Miami hospital after getting his right forearm mangled by a bull shark near the Exuma Islands. But that’s a real possibility if you’re poking at the animal with a spear.

Hernandez and his wife, Marlene, 46, traveled from Deerfield Beach, FL, for a romantic getaway. On May 6, the second day of their trip, Hernandez decided to do some spearfishing while Marlene waited in the rented fishing boat. He had just speared a grouper when he spotted the seven-foot shark.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, nice shark!’” he told reporters from his hospital bed. “So I swam a little closer and thought about spearing it but decided to let it go. I just poked it so it would get out of my way.” That’s when the shark sunk its teeth into his arm. After a struggle, the shark let go, taking a large chunk of Hernandez’ forearm with it. Marlene pulled her husband out of the water, crafted a tourniquet and got the boat back to land.

Carl Luer, senior scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL, told the Miami Herald that the shark was probably startled by the encounter with Hernandez, and the grouper spearing may have led to the attack. Hernandez poking at it could also have been a reason.

Now Hernandez says he wants to return to the reef one day with his brother to hunt down the shark. We know who we’re rooting for.

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