When game fishing expert Captain Peter Bristow caught this tiny Long Nosed Spearfish off the Portuguese island of Madeira he described it as “the prettiest thing I have ever seen”. Peter has seen a lot of pretty fish too.
The day before he caught (tagged and released) a 700 pound relative, the first spearfish of the season.
Peter and his mates Peter Wright and Dennis Wallace were the original black marlin game fishing skippers who made Cairns, Queensland the prime big game fishing destination in the world.
Peter is 74 this year, (2011) and has 58 years experience with the sea. At present home is Madeira off Morocco. The ocean currents there bring whales, dolphin, tuna and bill-fish encounters described by experts as ‘extraordinary opportunities’ for both fishing and snorkeling.
While living at Cairns, Queensland, Peter Bristow played a significant part in sparking media interest which ultimately protected the unique family of potato cod that later became world-famous.
Known as ‘The Cod Hole’ these fish are slowly leaving due to regulations that limit feeding them. Fish feeding situations unfortunately tend to ‘get out of hand’.
The problems began when pair of former moray eels died whilst being forcefully ‘relocated’. The move considered a necessity after a woman was seriously mauled by the largest eel, her arm requiring amputation.
The cod/grouper were also ‘keen feeders’. Diver Dale Chapman once having his whole head ‘mouthed’ by one of these grouper. (“The lights suddenly went out” said Dale).
Valerie Taylor contemplates the ‘near freezing’ crystal clear fresh water spring known as Ewen Ponds in South Australia. Dressed in a short neoprene suit, no hood. The red stockings were for brighter photo’s more than the little warmth offered.
We were making The Cave Divers film, sponsored by a tobacco company….erhh, (the only people with money to spare) and this location was included. I clicked what is now a photographic treasure with Valerie early in her new career as a ‘mermaid’.
The picture has never been published, lost in a cabinet until now.
Few glamour girls enjoy wet hair and cold shivers. Valerie has made a profession of being wet and sometimes cold and coping with conditions few models would tolerate without a tantrum.
To be the world’s best at anything in life is not going to be easy.
Vic and I quit our jobs and were heading north for three months of diving with a rented timber boat, a tent and a 45 HP outboard motor. At Woolgoolga we picked up the 7 kg crayfish, (now known as rock lobster). It wasn’t eaten. We sold it to the original porpoise pool at Tweed Heads (NSW) to help pay for travel costs.
By this stage we had another couple with us, Ron Taylor and his girlfriend Valerie. It was to be an amazing adventure.
I ‘blacked-out’ and almost drowned during a deep free dive, we speared fish, photographed sharks and sea snakes and camped on Nor’ West Island where I developed ‘coral poisoning’ in my knee and could not walk or even stand up.
I was saved by the early return of “Riversong” and the later to be legend, Captain Wally G Muller of ‘Coralita’ charter boat fame in the Coral Sea.
For each of us it was an amazing adventure at a time with fewer people, less boats, more fish, more sharks. We became life-long friends too.
I did not return to ordinary work either. This was the beginning of a professional association with the new world of underwater photo journalism and documentary films.