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A Shark Story

A Shark Story

shark4 lemon

When I was young and full of fire, living for adventure, I completed the Underwater Skills program at Seneca College in King City, Ontario, qualifying me as a commercial diver and underwater welder. When I was 16, my dad had been posted to Norfolk, VA, to take the next level of his officer training as a naval officer, and they had a great youth program, that allowed me to take my NAUI scuba certification. I loved diving, and the ocean, and so Seneca’s training was a great fit for my adventurous personality. After graduation, I went up to Honey Harbour, Ontario, and worked a couple seasons on a cable laying barge, laying telephone cable that connected telephone lines to what is known as the ’10,000 islands’ on the East side of Georgian Bay. Round about October, or November, when things were starting to freeze up, I would buy myself a ticket, and head south to Key West, Florida to go treasure hunting with Mel Fisher. Got to work one winter for Mel’s son, captain Kane, aboard the ‘Dauntless’.


Now this treasure hunting is quite an experience. Mel had 8 or nine boats working for him in his fleet, and people signed a contract for a percentage of treasure found. Mel had previously discovered the ‘Marguerita’, with 22 million dollars of silver and gold recovered, and investors made money, as did crew members that year, for contracts were signed by the year, anticipating the find of the sister ship, ‘the Atocha’, that historians record as having sunk in the same storm with hundreds of millions of gold and silver bullion aboard.

There were generally two types of boats in the fleet, search boats and dive boats. Search boats tow various metal detecting equipment, and dive boats are equipped with digging equipment, as the area the ships were known to have been lost, is known as ‘The Quicksands’, with the bottom covered with constantly moving and shifting underwater sand dunes, that are often 30-40’ high. The dive boats are equipped with air lifts, and a neat thing called ‘mailboxes’. These mailboxes, are huge elbow shaped tubes, that fold down over the propellers of the ship. We had little Boston whaler skiffs with outboard motors, that we would use to fly anchors out on three or four sides of the dive boat, so that these mailboxes could be folded down over the propellers of the dive boat, and pinned in place. The boat would them rev up it’s engines, and blast the prop wash down into the bottom, quickly digging a hole in the bottom 30’ or more deep, all the way down to bedrock. Then, the engines are idled back, to direct a stream of clear, surface water down into the hole. We then, as divers, would grab metal detectors, and would scoot down to the bottom, to see if any silver, gold, or lead musket balls had been uncovered by the blast.

shark shark1

We were allowed to keep our first silver or gold coin found, I still have my 1622 silver piece of eight to this day.

There was a wonderful side benefit to all of this digging in the sand. When we dug the first hole in the morning, the props would immediately uncover any clams, worms, crabs etc, that had been under the sand. Huge schools of fish would begin to congregate around the digging area, so that by the end of an 8-10 hour day of digging, there were literally thousands of fish swimming around the hole with us as we continue to work our metal detectors. We would begin to view the menu for the evenings feast throughout the day…

Now, we were not allowed to spear fish during the day, as any blood in the water would attract sharks, but at the end of the day, just as the sun was setting, we would descend with spear guns, and shoot a dozen or so fish, for Hor De Orby’s (hors d’oeuvres). Probably 8-10 of these fish were grouper or snappers, or some type of delicacy, that we would quickly fillet and hand to the cook, to bread and fry up, as we began the evening chores of washing out dive equipment, greasing ‘O’ rings, filling tanks, cleaning the deck, etc, as we began the three hour ride into harbour, where we would anchor out for the night. These were gratefully served as snacks enroute, before our evening feast. Usually, we anchored at Marquesis Key, as it’s channel enters into the only coral atoll in US waters.

shark spear

We would take all the fish guts, scales, etc, with any trash fish we had speared, and put this in a 45 gallon garbage container, with about 5 gallons of sea water. Someone, over the years, had welded a shark hook to a 3’ length of chain, that we would attach to a clevis on the end of one of our spare anchor lines.

Then after the traditional nightly feast, we play cards on deck, and then hook up a 2-5lb trash fish to this shark hook, and let the line drift back behind the boat 50-100 yards. Every couple of minutes, we would scoop up some of the blood and guts from the 45 gallon trash can, and we would chum for sharks.

For a couple of weeks, all we caught was one skinny little 5’ hammerhead, so I had a hard time believing the stories of the monster sharks the crew had caught in previous years. Sounded like fish stories to me….

Well, one night, there was a ‘glow in the dark’ plankton bloom that was awesome to see. The water was really clear and calm, and you could look down into the dark, and anywhere something moved, these plankton would light up, leaving a glowing trail when a fish swam. Every crest of every wavelet would light up, and it was really peaceful and picturesque. Looked like those greenish glow sticks that people wave around on July 4th fireworks: Really beautiful.

shark glow

Round about 10-11Pm captain Kane told me to pull in that shark hook, and go to bed. I was really tired, and nodding off, but I really wanted to catch one of those big sharks everyone talked about. I pleaded with him to leave the shark hook out, and he said I could on one condition: ‘If you hook a big tiger shark, and it fouls that line in the props, you are first diver in with a knife, to cut the props free.”

“Sure!” I said!

So, I dumped the whole trash can full of chum over the side, and rinsed out the container. Then I thought: ‘How will I know if I get a bite in the middle of the night?’ So, I pulled in about 40 feet of rope, and figure-eighted it around a 70 lb spare Danforth anchor that we had stowed around a set of bollards behind the cabin where we slept. I figured that if a shark hooked itself, it would rattle that anchor on the metal deck, and I would wake up and pull him in.

Finally, I went to bed, and fell into a deep, exhausted sleep.

In the middle of the night, I was awakened the sound of a loud ‘clang’, and the boat was shaking, and everyone was up, and men were yelling: ‘We got a shark, we got a shark!’ There was the sound of gun shots, as I sleepily ran to the back deck of the Dauntless. They had a spotlight, trying to spot the fin of this huge shark exploding through the surf behind the boat. When the monster had taken the bait, it had flown that 70lb anchor 40’ through the air, and the anchor was pinned against the back guard rail so hard that two men, could not pull it off. As the fish exploded from side to side behind the boat, it seemed like the entire ocean lit up from the line, like a ‘glow in the dark’ football field. A couple of us tried to pull it in, but the rope just tore open our hands, and the entire boat was shaking from the fight!

Each time the fin of this thing would surface, captain Kane would squeeze off a couple of rounds from the .303 rifle we kept on clips for sharks and pirates.

“Bam, Bam! I think I hit him! Bam! Bam!’

Finally, someone had an idea to fire up the big 6-71 Jimmy motors, and hook up one of the winches we used for pulling anchors. Quickly, a snatch block was run off the side, and the rope run through it. We then engaged the winch, and began hauling this beast in. As it got closer, Kane managed to get a couple rounds into it’s head, and the fight was over. Yet, we couldn’t lift it!

So, we placed the rope around a brace, and began winching it in, to discover we had caught a 9 foot, 550 lb lemon shark. Teeth, going somewhere to happen.

Problem was, that even though the fish was dead, it’s jaws would still clamp shut involuntarily, and I had to duct tape a fillet knife to the end of a broom handle to cut the hook out. I wanted to gut it, and put it in our walk in cooler, but Kane wouldn’t let me, so as the knife did its work, the body of the beast dropped off, and descended into the deep, clear waters. We followed it with the spotlight into the deep, and I remember the words my father had ingrained in me as a young boy: “Son, if you are going to kill something, you better eat it!’ I thought about what a waste of good meat that was, and how that shark would never have bothered us diving, or probably even come close to us, as lemon sharks are fish eaters, not generally known to attack people.

shark teeth

Well, the moral of the story:

Sharks are rather amazing creatures I’ve found. A shark’s primary sense is a keen sense of smell. It can detect one drop of blood in a million drops of water (25 gallons or 100 liters) and can smell blood 0.25 mile (0.4 km) away.

By throwing ladlefuls of blood into the water behind the boat, sharks would hone in on the scent trail, and would readily take the bait placed for them.

So it is in our life. God is love, and we who know Jesus, are His children, designed to walk in love, life, light, strength, power and authority in the earth. With Him, we are invincible, and satan knows this.

So, he has to do something to get through our impregnable armor.

God forgives us, but commands us to forgive others:

shark forgive

Colossians 3:13

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].

Luke 6:37  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Mark 11:25

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop.

Mark 11:26

But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.

God commands us to forgive people who do us wrong, but in the business of life, people can tick us off, and we can get offended. This is a bait of satan, designed to get us out of the will of God for our lives. John Bevere has a tremendous book by this title that you can download.

shark un

2 Corinthians 2:11

To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.

This is one of the wiles of satan, a trap designed to destroy us.

Unforgiveness to the devil, is like blood is to a shark.

1 Peter 5:8

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

shark rent free

Satan is a predator, trying to devour our lives. He cannot touch us when we are fully walking with God, in love towards our fellow man, so, he sends people to do us wrong, with the intent purpose to get us in unforgiveness. Why?

Remember the story Jesus told in Matt 18 about the servant who owed a huge debt he could not pay, and how he was brought before the king? He asked for mercy, and the king graciously forgave him, and released him from his debt. This man then went out, saw another guy that owed him a small amount, and had the man thrown in prison. Servants told the king, who then had him arrested and brought back to court. His verdict?

(Mat 18:33 NIV)  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’

(Mat 18:34 NIV)  In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

I want you to see this. Unforgiveness will produce torment in your life.!

When you or I choose not to forgive, we go into bondage. You get turned over to the tormenters.

(Mat 18:35 NIV)  “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Unforgiveness brings torment into our lives, and allows the devil to come and do what he does, kill our dreams, steal our joy, blessing, or perhaps our lives, and destroy things that may have taken us years to build.

Grudges only hurt us, not the person we hate or stonewall, for they allow demonic spirits to torture us, and steal our peace. Forgive: It’s your life at stake…


  1.      Come clean with God. Ask Him to show you all the things you’ve done that offend him, and ask Him to Forgive you Come clean with others. Ask God to show you all the people who have hurt you, and forgive them. I had to make a 21 page list, forgive them, then burn the list.
  2.      Come clean with yourself. Ask God to show you all the areas of your life where you are beating yourself up, and forgive yourself.
  3.   Ask God to show you other people that are caught in this trap, and pray for them. There will be healing in it for you. (Job 42:10 NIV)  After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.