Marlin in rare boat attack

2014-04-28 00:00

TWO Durban fishermen were impaled by a massive Blue Marlin as it launched itself at their ski boat during a fishing competition on Saturday afternoon.

Sean Theunissen, Gareth Collingwood, Gary Clouws and skipper Marc Gieseler were participating in the Durban Ski Boat Club Festival 2014, the largest offshore fishing event of its kind that attracted 355 ski boats this year.

On their boat Mduduze, they were fishing 2,5 nautical miles off-shore of Umdloti — about 12,5 nautical miles from the Port of Durban — when Gieseler hooked a Blue Marlin of about 100 kilograms.

“We originally thought it was a shark as it did not seem to realise it was hooked and it peeled the line slowly at first and then rapidly. I was fighting the fish and Gareth was at the helm when we decided to follow the fish to retrieve some of the line and then break it off.

“At about 100 metres away the fish broke water and we agreed that it was definitely not a shark as it was silver in colour.

“The fish then turned in front of us and swam directly towards us. It broke the water a couple of times before launching itself over the nose of the boat, breaking and bending the bow rails, coming over and through the front windscreen, piercing Collingwood through his left upper torso and then piercing Clouws through his upper left chest and shoulder in a sosatie-type effect,” said Gieseler.

Both crewman had ducked to avoid the fish, narrowly escaping life threatening injuries as both puncture wounds were close to their heart and lung areas, said Gieseler.

The two men were then pinned against the back motor roll bar where the marlin’s bill then ripped out of the men as the fish cartwheeled over the back of the boat and disappeared.

“It all happened so fast and the crashing noise and screams and groans were sickening. Sean and I quickly placed what clothing we could find on both injured crewmen, applying pressure to stem the bleeding, laid them down in the vessel and assessed the situation,” said Gieseler.

The radio and navigation system had been ripped out by the fish and were no longer working, and Gieseler used a cellphone to contact two other boats.

“I am still battling to get past how lucky we actually are and how quickly things can go bad on a fun day out,” said Gieseler.

Fishing competition convener Hilton Kidger said it was rare, but not unheard of for Marlin to become aggressive.

Typically, with a Marlin on the line, it will swim away from the boat, “but problems can arise when the fish turns around”.

“When this happens, we try and move the boat away from the fish to keep the line tight. In this case, however, the Marlin went straight for the front of the boat,” said Kidger.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said that while he had heard of Marlin leaping onto boats, he believes it is the first time that the NSRI has had to deal with such a case.

Kidger had much praise for the NSRI and Netcare 911, as the injured men were in hospital barely an hour after they had first received the emergency call for assistance from the boat.

The boat was also extensively damaged and had to be escorted back to the port of Durban by the sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II.

The injured men are now in a stable condition at St Augustine’s hospital, said Kidger.

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