Terror at sea
Clive Campbell, captain of the 18-foot ill-fated boat the Kahder, which set out on a spearfishing expedition in which Donovan Haywood returned to land without an arm, described Saturday’s battle with a seven-foot shark as a harrowing nightmare.
“Is like we a watch a movie,” he told The Gleaner on Sunday as he rued that Haywood, 53, succumbed to the wounds he sustained as Campbell and some of the 10 other fishermen on board tried to rescue their partner.
After setting out to sea after 8 a.m. from the community of Russia in Westmoreland to spearfish off the shore of Little Bay, Haywood was attacked, while underwater, by the shark, which sank its teeth into his left arm and inflicted several bites to his upper body.
The dramatic fight on the open sea lasted about half-hour, said Campbell.
The boat captain said that he and his brother, as well as others in the crew, encircled the shark in a bid to prevent the fish from taking away their partner’s body.
“The shark come up from underneath him and grab on pon him entire left side and have him a flash him all bout inna di water,” said Campbell, adding that another fisherman was almost knocked unconscious by the violent swing of its tail.
“Every minute, the shark go down wid ‘Doggie’ then him come back up.”
Campbell said his brother shot the shark in its head with a fish gun, but by that time, it had already gone with Haywood’s severed arm.
The boatmen hurried back to shore and transported Haywood in a pick-up to the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital. But their frantic efforts to save the life of their colleague were in vain.
Kemeisha Titus, Haywood’s sister, said the father of four – two girls and two boys – had been a fisherman since he was a teenager.
“Although all a we a grieve, we still glad fi know seh we get him body fi bury,” Titus said.
Shark attacks are extremely rare in Jamaica’s territorial waters, but there have been several sightings along the coastline. A shark was killed in Seven Miles, Bull Bay, on the weekend.
However, Wolde Kristos, first vice-president of the Bluefields Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society, which manages the Bluefields Special Fishery Conservation Area, has warned spearfishers to have adequate personnel to transfer shot fish quickly into a canoe. He theorises that Haywood was swimming with the fish he shot, drawing the shark to the scent of blood.
Kristos has also urged the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to make it mandatory for fishermen to undergo first-responder training.