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Thread: Fish kills spear-fishing diver

  1. #11
    Wreck Diving Moderator acelockco's Avatar
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    Jun 2007


    It also makes you think about the kind of power a fish like that has. Underwater we are so limited not only by our air/gas we breathe, but also our speed and mobility. It must have taken a lot of power for that fish to not only pull the diver, but then pin him.

    And to the question about the fish living, I seriously doubt the fish had any chance of living.

  2. #12
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    Oct 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by bottlefish View Post
    Thanks for the post Ace, interesting reading.. and re being two month old news; remember, this is a global site, news doesn't travel that fast across borders or waters, sharing stories keeps us all informed. Better to hear twice then not at all.

    With regards to the status, IUCN still lists this species as critically endangered, this was reassessed in 2006

    Regardless of the status of the species, still a sad loss of life for the unfortunate diver and his family.
    Just to clarify, as I know how things can be mis-understood when reading written comments I wasn't implying he deserved to die, its is a total shame.

    I visited Tanzania and Zanzibar last year and enjoyed the sight of two endangered species the Black Rhino and red Colobus Monkey. It breaks my heart just how many species (land, sea or air) are at risk.

  3. #13
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    Jan 2007


    Good eye Ace... this occured over a year and 2 months ago!!

    It's so old most of the links are all dead.

    Diver's last catch a fatal one
    A diver lost his life in a rare underwater accident, this one involving a goliath grouper.
    Gary Cagle, an avid free diver, made two mistakes on a Key West fishing trip last Saturday:
    He speared a goliath grouper, a fish that is illegal to kill in the Florida Keys. He also forgot to bring along his knife.
    That error cost him his life.
    Cagle, spearfishing a half-mile off Smathers Beach, shot a 40-inch goliath grouper. The fish bolted under a coral head, entangling the diver in the line and, acting like an anchor, held him underwater until he drowned.
    On Sunday, Key West police divers found Cagle's body pinned to the coral 17 feet down, his mask still on but the snorkel out of his mouth. The spear line was wrapped three times around his wrist, with the spear shaft still in the carcass of the dead fish -- shot right through the gills.
    ''It is bizarre,'' said Becky Herrin, spokeswoman for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
    Goliath groupers, which can grow up to eight feet and weigh more than 600 pounds, are not known as aggressive -- but many of them show little fear of divers or snorkelers. The huge fish can be found on many wrecks in the Florida Keys.
    Fishing goliath grouper in the Keys has been illegal since 1990. But friends of Cagle's say they believe something unexpected happened, expressing doubts that he would have speared the protected species intentionally.
    ''He must have been trying to protect his life,'' suggested friend Lori Kerry. `` The grouper was about 160 to 200 pounds and must have surprised him.''
    Other experienced divers saw self-defense as an unlikely reason for spearing a goliath. But Kerry said Cagle had great respect for nature and once insisted she return a 50-pound goliath she had caught by accident, she said.
    Cagle, 42 and a Georgia native, worked many years bartending at the Bull & Whistle Bar on Duval Street in Key West. His friends say he saved his money and invested well so he could spend most of his time on his aquatic passions. Almost daily, he drove his Jet Ski to sites where he could free-dive -- that is, dive without a supplemental air tank -- and fish for four to six hours at a time.
    His friends say he weighed about 175 pounds, was in great shape and could hold his breath for four to five minutes under water, sometimes free-diving in depths of up to about 70 feet.
    ''He was like a fish,'' said Cagle's girlfriend, Melissa Aiello.
    Last Saturday, Cagle left Stock Island alone about noon. When he didn't return that night, his friends became worried and called the Coast Guard. The Jet Ski was found that night but Cagle's body wasn't located until the following morning.
    ''While we worried about him diving by himself, we also didn't worry because he was so good at it,'' Kerry said. ``But Gary always, always, always said if he died he wanted it to be in the water.''
    Marks on Cagle's body showed he struggled to free himself from the spear line. But he could not and drowned, according to a preliminary autopsy report.
    Bob Holston, director of operations at Dive Key West, said he knows of few free diving or spearfishing accidents, but when they do occur it's usually because safety practices weren't followed. A major safety requirement is bringing a knife, in case a line does get tangled.
    ''Not wearing a knife is like crossing I-95 with your eyes closed,'' Holston said.
    Kerry said Cagle was not a careless diver. But she has no answer why his knife was left behind on her porch. ''It's normally on his leg,'' she said.
    A memorial service for Cagle will be held 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Dean Lopez Funeral Home in Key West. Later Saturday, his friends and family will board the catamaran Sunny Days to sprinkle his ashes into the waters he loved".

    This story was well hashed out on many forums.
    There is still a lot of information that does not make sense.
    A 40" Goliath doesn't come close to 160 to 200 lbs.
    A diver who gets a lot of fish doesn't poach a protected species. He doesn't need or want the meat, and he can't sell it.
    Any way you read it, it was a sad story.

    The St Pete Times does archive even our Captains Corner column.

    Outdoors-Daily fishing report-By CHAD CARNEY-Published September 16, 2006


    Gary Cagle's ashes return to the sea today in Key West. Cagle drowned Saturday while free diving in 25 feet of water after spearing a 40-inch goliath grouper and entangling his hand in the spear gun line. Cagle was reported to have been in great shape and was experienced - free diving and spearfishing almost daily for many years. His death is an enigma to knowledgeable spearfishermen. Why did he shoot a protected species? In clear water, a goliath would be unmistakable to an avid spearfisherman. Was Cagle protecting a fish he had speared? Bold goliaths commonly attempt and often succeed in taking fish from spearfishermen. Knowing he didn't have his knife, how did he let the spear gun line get wrapped three times around his wrist?

    Several factors could have changed the unfortunate outcome of this story. A sharp, stiletto knife is as essential to a free-diving hunter as a shroud line cutter and a reserve parachute are to a skydiver. Using a reel on a spear gun can make line handling safer, more efficient and allow a free diver to surface without losing his prey. Floats and lines are often used when targeting big fish, and they also make it easy to locate a free diver. Even experienced free divers can only stay down a few minutes, and they risk possible blackouts from hypoxia on ascent. Free diving with a knowledgeable buddy is wise.

    More information on Cagle's story can be found in an article by Cammy Clark on

    Chad Carney teaches diving and spearfishing in the Tampa Bay area. Call (727) 423-7775 or visit
    Last edited by Chad; 11-17-2007 at 02:39 PM.

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