January 18th 2017
We land in Kona Hawaii after jumping on flights from all over North America. I’m here with the SAXX production team to shoot the Oahu North Shore native Mark Healey; a big-wave surfer, award-winning spear-fisherman, free-diver, filmmaker, conservationist, Hollywood stuntman and yoga enthusiast. The focus of the shoot? What makes Mark tick as a spear fisherman.
I’ve never been spearfishing so I was interested in learning what it’s all about. After grabbing Mark from the airport, we sit down for a beer and chat about what to expect over the coming days. Our plan is to navigate our way out to some of Mark’s favorite spots off the coast of the big island, but as I’d later learn the ocean holds the unexpected.
The following day we launch from Kauai harbor at sunrise. The boat gently bobbing as we fuel up, to my surprise we’re surrounded by a group of pufferfish. “That’s not the only thing we’re going to see today,” remarks Perrin, the underwater photographer. “This time of year Humpbacks circle the coast in search of mates.”
Driving towards our destination I began to realize the ocean was teeming with life. A pod of spinner dolphins approach, throwing themselves aimlessly through the air; flying fish jump alongside the boat as we crash through the waves. Mark and Perrin both jump in for their first dive as a manta ray glides under the bow of our boat.
Once the guys are in the water there’s not much to see so I chatted with our captain, Asa. He regularly shoots with Perrin and Mark and filled me in about the live volcano on the West coast of the island that’s been spewing out lava from the cliff. If you haven’t seen it check it out here, spectacular doesn’t cut it.
“Spearfishing when done correctly, requires the most skill, and is the most targeted way of harvesting fish from the ocean .”
— Mark Healey
As we circled the area looking for the right spot for Mark to jump in and start chumming fish, we saw a fin breach the horizon. Asa screamed “WHALE” as he turned the boat to try and catch it. Within seconds the humpback's tail came above the surface as it dove deeper below, signaling that the chase was over. This game continued for around an hour as we were teased with the promise of getting close to the very illusory creature.
After an hour or so, we decided to give up the chase and turn our focus back to capturing more underwater footage. Mark and Perrin had jumped in and were only feet away from the boat as I spotted a whale lying on its side waving its ten-foot fin in the air. The game was on, Asa shouts to Mark and Perrin “Guys jump in there’s one that wants to play!”
As we speed towards the Humpback, I grab my mask and snorkel frantically trying to de-fog, with the hopes of catching an underwater glimpse. Pulling within 30 feet of the whale, excitedly Asa shouts “GO, GO GET IN THERE!”. Having never been in the water with a creature of this magnitude my heart races as I jump off the boat after Mark and Perrin.
With Mark swimming just ahead, I see him dive and I start to follow. Once under the surface my mood calms as we hear the song of the nearby whale. It was incredibly clear, as if it were being played through headphones. The water was so deep and blue, it were as if I was floating in space with the sun’s rays spearing either side of me. I turn my head back to follow Mark and there it was. Swimming gracefully into the distance waving its white fins as the song faded into space.
— Mitchell Clements, February 28, 2017
“All surfers were watermen before, since the dawn of surfing with the Hawaiians.”
— Mark Healey