By ENAMYREA ANI
UPNG Journalism Student
FIVE spear fishermen watched in horror as about 10 great white sharks bit and ripped apart their 33-year-old colleague in Abau’s Ragelapara reef in Central on Boxing Day.
Kala Gerea’s family members are planning to return to the tragic scene of the attack to try and recover his remains.
Dinghy skipper and uncle Bri OleWale said: “We (Gerea, Kilalema Suibu, Willie Va’a, Jackson Wala and Onne Ora) decided to go fishing after lunch at 2pm because the weather was good.
“Our first stop was at a section of the reef where the Hula people named Pere. We arrived about an hour. The boys started diving and shot a couple of fish but since Gerea was the most experienced diver, he was sort of took the lead in deciding which spots to go to.
“After half an hour of diving and catching fish, Gerea suggested travelling further up to the other reef to catch more fish. Olewale and Ora remained in the dinghy waiting for the divers to throw up their catch to store in eskies,” he said.
At about 4.30pm, Gerea signalled the skippers to get closer to the divers because the current and temperature of the water were good and there were plenty of fish.
“Gerea swam to the dinghy and unloaded the fish he speared and then he told me, ‘uncle the current is good so we are going to shoot for more.’
“We chatted a little bit before he dived back into the water. Within two minutes, a great white shark bit him
“It all happened very quickly. Va’a was diving with him, so he knows what actually happened in the water,” he added.
Va’a said he was caught by surprise and shock.
“I tried my best to help Gerea but the shark was too big. Gerea dived but I was just floating. He hid and shot a fish. When he reached out for his catch, the shark appeared and ripped off his right arm out. I then tried to distract the shark by slapping the water but the shark did not respond.
“When I took aim with my spear gun, the shark swam away in the bloody water with Gerea’s arm in its mouth. That’s the last time I saw Gerea,” he added.
Va’a said the shark turned around and headed towards him but “I managed to swim to the dinghy for safety.
“The beast was white, big and about five metres long. We went near the spot of the attack but the waters were red with more than 10 sharks circling around.
“We were shocked, we didn’t know what to do because we were really scared. I really feel sad and regret for not saving my brother and leaving him like that.”
“Now we are not sure if we will go back to that place to get fish or not because we will always be reminded with regret of losing our brother”,Va’a said.
Olewale said, Gerea never came up to the surface, he was eaten up by the sharks around him.
He said the Hula fisherman use a very risky fishing technique while catching fish. The technique in Hula language is Kapawalo meaning waist rope.
“These technique is used when the fisher man catches a fish, he ties it around his waist and swim up to the dinghy and unloads them.”
“The shark attack didn’t take place on the surface of the sea but right beneath the sea while making his way up, and he never came up.
“We only found his spear and parts of his clothing”.
Olewale said he was filled with guilt about the shark attack and killing.
“Gerea also lost is father in a shark attack 11 years ago. This attack must surely be extremely painful and unforgettable to his mother.
“The trip was to get fish for me, so I organised some fuel. I blame myself. If I didn’t organise this trip, then this tragedy would not have occurred,” Olewale said.
By ENAMYREA ANI