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Posted: 1/10/2006 11:58:53 AM EDT
Not exactly like shooting a deer from 50 yards away with a 30-06.www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=61&objectid=3560210

Twinge of sadness as spearfisherman kills record marlin

13.04.2004


By ANNE BESTON

A two-hour battle between a spearfisherman and a marlin ended with a world record and a vow never to kill another of the giant gamefish.

David Mullins of Auckland expects to hold the striped marlin free-diving spearfishing world record after his ordeal landing a 156.6kg giant, 22kg heavier than the previous record a New Zealander set in 1997.

Mr Mullins' adventure began during a dive for snapper on Good Friday at South East Bay on the remote Three Kings Islands, 64km northwest of Cape Reinga.

The 2m-tall 23-year-old is a "bluewater" free-diving spearfisher, a sport growing in popularity where divers in only a wetsuit and fins use a manual speargun to hunt gamefish such as marlin, tuna and swordfish.

To qualify for a world record they have to subdue the fish alone and underwater. They can't hold on to a boat but can hold on to a float attached to the line.

"I dived down for kingfish and this thing [the marlin] must have cruised up behind me. He was all lit up. He was an impressive sight," Mr Mullins said.

"I took a small dive over the top of him, lined him up and shot him. I tried to kill him outright because I thought I'd lose my gear."

He shot the marlin near the shoulder and it rose to the surface.

"I was just going to grab him and get the knife into him but I thought maybe he was just changing gear, so I backed off."

Mr Mullins swam back to the float and held on while the marlin plunged to the bottom, using all 30m of line and pulling the diver 3m under.

"I tried really hard to stay near the surface. Any further and I would have had to let go."

The fish towed the diver for two arm-wrenching hours at up to 9km/h.

"At times it was a bit frightening. When the line went slack and you could see it curving off I was sort of wondering if he was coming back around, but there was no serious danger. It's all in your head."

Crew aboard the launch following the pair eventually threw Mr Mullins a bigger speargun, allowed under the sport's international rules.

This time he hit the marlin through the head and then dived 15m to retrieve it.

Official weighing at Houhora in the Far North confirmed the world-beating weight. "It's bloody great. I still can't quite believe it," Mr Mullins said.

But along with the elation there was also a twinge of sadness. "I'll never shoot another marlin. They're a really impressive fish. You don't want to go killing another one. One's enough."
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