Cuba spearfishing

  • I always get nostalgic when I see spearfishing pics from Cuba because that's where I started spearfishing. I could've taken a lot of spearfishing pictures in Cuba. But digital photography was just starting back then and I didn't have time to develop conventional photos. The photos you'll see here are not mine, but the memory might as well be, the scene and the feeling is the same. Although Cuba has an oppressive regime, when it came to spearfishing it was total freedom. Note the ever present homemade pneumatic spearguns.





  • Since I stayed near the coast it wasn't uncommon to see a pescador submarino walking down the street with a gun and a stringer, standing on the coastal highway trying to catch a ride, or on a crowded bus holding a burlap sack with a fish tail sticking out.

    In a neighborhood from time to time you would see a big fish like a shark hung on a tree being filleted, or someone under a shed working on fish.

  • A common sight in Havana Cuba, fishing off the Malecon (sea wall).

    The Malecon as a entry point is easier to get to for Havana residents, but normally it's slim pickings.

    A wood speargun is very unusual to see in Cuba. Band spearguns are rare in general. Cuba is the land of the pneumatic speargun, usually homemade.

    The following pic is typical of parts of the northern coastline. High cliffs with deep water close by. My favorite place to dive and we had to climb down those cliffs and lower the gear with a rope. At other spots you had to throw the gear in the water and jump in from a height of approx 30'. I used to have pics of my water entry from just such a place and pics from the top of the cliff of the speargun floats disappearing in the distance.

  • A common sight in Cuba, fishing off the Malecon in Havana.

    I saw a guy in a wetsuit crossing the street with an octopus. I also saw a 12" jack when I was in the water. Nothing else though except tiny tropicals.

    Davie Peguero

  • Whenever I think of diving from the Malecon/near Havana harbor I remember the story of Sir Brook Watson.


    It was whilst swimming alone in Havana harbour, Cuba in 1749 that Watson was attacked by a shark. He was fourteen at the time. The shark attacked twice before he was rescued. The first time, the shark removed flesh from below the calf of Watson’s right leg; the second time, it bit off his right foot at the ankle. Watson was finally rescued by his fellow shipmates, but his leg could not be saved and it was amputated below the knee. Watson recuperated in a Cuban hospital and recovered within three months

    I remember reading he used the shark attack to his advantage later in life, because of the publicity he received he eventually became lord mayor of London, and on his coat of arms was a drawing of a wooden leg. This is the famous painting depicting the attack. Interesting how the artist didn't know exactly what a shark looks like.

    Watson and The Shark

  • Made me start wondering what that tarpon and ray taste like?? Anybody??

    I remembered that I bought tarpon once. The fish was big and very bony. Made filleting almost impossible. Would be good for soup and croqueta. I don't remember the taste but remember making a note to myself not to buy it again. If anyone has experience with tarpon they can confirm.

  • I heard ray tastes like fried shrimp on a review someone posted and they would keep one if they ever caught it again (H&L). They just cut off the wings and throw the body back. Then make sure to keep the wings from coming in contact with the fish, their blood spoils the fish or something like that. Wrap it up in plastic bags.

    Davie Peguero

  • I speared a tarpon (60lbs.)here in P.R. on a dare and stoned it, if you can believe that. We proceeded to fillet it, or at least attempt to. It was fibrous as hell! And the meat was very mushy and broke in my hands as I tried to grab a hold of it to skin it. Anyways, the guys loved it in deep fried meat balls and even brought me some at the house but I kindly denied. They want me to shoot another one but I promised myself that would be the only one.

    BTW, where are the Cuba's spearfishing photos?

  • Well there aren't many that can be found, I feel a little lame posting other peoples pics but it's better thant nothing. Maybe Pantoja will add some.

    I can't believe you didn't want to try the tarpon. Did it have a lot of little bones as I recalled?

  • I couldn't tell whether they were little bones or just fibrous flesh.

    My father had a friend many years back who brought an album full of spearfishing pictures from Cuba. I used to Scuba back then (1983) and I remember how he would always tell me that Scuba was for the wealthy and non-elite. That struck me pretty hard at that time especially since I had just graduated from Airborne School. The pictures were impressive to say the least. 80 lb. Goliaths, huge Caguamas (Loggerheads?)which they would spear through the neck! Lobsters I haven't seen the like in any of the spearfishing forums (illegally of course). The man has since passed away and I don't know what happened to that album but I assure you that it would put Terry Mass' book to the test (not to say to shame).

  • My dad had hundreds of photos. As a cameraman for CMQ in Cuba and a photographer and columnist for Mar y Pesca, he literally took thousands of underwater and out of water shots. The reds took them all after they raided their apartment in Cuba. Some of his stuff can likely be found in some old Mar Y Pesca magazines. I think my mom still has a few of him while he lived in the Caymans for a year. I spefically remember one of him walking on the beach with gear after a shore dive. I may try to have her dig it up and scan and post.

    My dad always laughed when he would snorkel over the reefs here. He would always say; "los fondos mas bellos del mundo estan en Cuba".

  • First of all, I know Ricky. He is italian, from Rome, like my parents and we spent a couple of vacations together in Venezuela. The pictures Dan posted are from last year. He went there afer visiting my family in Venezuela. He is married to an Holguinera. I will invite him to join the forum. He's got a lot of photos and stories. He is one of the moderators of one of the most known spearfishing forums in Italy; Apneamagazine.

    Then, I have to say that both Sabalo and Chucho (spotted eagle ray) are edible. The key is how to prepare/cook them. Here in Puerto Rico (illegally), tarpon is "transformed" into "Chapín" to be sold in "Empanadillas". In Venezuela what they do is hitting them with a Coca cola 2 liters bottle until the flesh becomes soft and then open like a hole near the tail and use the bottle to squeeze the flesh through that hole. It is used both for empanadas or for "mojito" (pescado guisado), which is different from your drink.

    With the chucho, there is a delicacy called, "Pastel de Chucho", which is pretty much like boricuan "pastelón", changing grounded meat with "mojito".

    I speared a couple of tarpoons in Venezuela (They were legal in competitions!), but it was too much work to properly clean them. I gave them away and people was gratefull to me.
    I also speared some rays there and, I have to say it, can feed 4 families with good quality meat. Neither of them is what we can call a "game" fish, but both are good eating. :;

    A couple of pictures of Ricky during his last visit to Venezuela:

    PS: Wearing speedos is "legal" in Venezuela and barracudas are good eating as well. No ciguatera at all... :rolleyes1::D

  • MArco, thats one serious post about spearfishing, I enjoyed it. Thanks. For most people spearfishing is a sport. For most latin american families is a great way to get prime meat and is as controversial to kill a fish such as a ray or shark as is for an European to wash theri hands before a meal. Sharks, rays and tarpoons (Sábalo) are as good animals to eat (and kill) as any other edible fish in the Ocean.

    Except for ornamental picasso trigger fish and porkfis in scuba :D

    I'm a Speardiver, not a freediver

  • Hi everybody, ricky05 am i: the one on the right in the first picture. Marco invited me today.
    Glad to join you.
    Later i'l tell you something about Cuba, although i'm not cuban.

    The post was edited 1 time, last by ricky ().

  • el ssabalo a mi me encanta matarlo y comerlo en hamburguesas al carbon con un poco de barriga de puerco molida se mescla con el picadillo de sabalo y quedan riquisimas.

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