Recently, I found out about a spearfishing tournament in which tarpon were an eligible species. A quick Google search revealed a link for the tournament’s website. I clicked on it and a black page popped up. Cheesy flames surrounded medieval-style calligraphy bearing the organization’s title, Hell Divers Spearfishing Club. It looked like the logo of a wannabe Hell’s Angels biker gang or a really bad heavy metal band.
I learned that as I write this the club celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Spearfishing Rodeo. The event’s tarpon division has cleverly been dubbed the Special Hell Divers Research Category. Sounds disgusting, right? For those of you with weak stomachs, you may want to stop reading. Not only does Hell Divers reward tournament entrants for the savage-like slaying of any tarpon — but it also awards bonus points to those who kill fish with breeding capabilities. In fact, here are the specifics of the tarpon category pulled from helldivers.org: $100 for the smallest, less than 20 pounds; $100 for the largest, must be greater than 120 pounds; and $300 each for the first two spawning-
capable tarpon. According to the Hell Divers constitution, its objective is: “to undertake all diving applications for scientific purposes.” At a glance, this statement coupled with its “research” prize category might give the impression that the organization is in fact conservation-oriented. I don’t buy it. When the cross hairs of members’ spear guns are lined up with a tarpon’s vitals, what do you think is going through their minds? “I can’t wait to see what kind of scientific breakthroughs we’ll get from this fish” or “That’s a big ass poon! I can’t wait to kill it and Facebook the picture!”? Wouldn’t it make sense for an organization that boasts about its commitment to science to have a portion of its website dedicated to the scientific findings it’s gained through its “research”? I would think that after 50 years of “data collection” it’d have a healthy list of findings to share. I searched the site high and low, and guess what I found along the lines of scientific discovery? Nada! What its site lacks in scientific findings, it more than makes up for with an extensive spreadsheet devoted to record kills of myriad species, including tarpon. So — am I wrong to feel that its claim to kill in the name of science is nothing more than a beard for ego-building?
I fully understand that I’ve just opened myself up to hateful commentary from Hell Divers. Oh well, I highly doubt I have anything in common with them anyway. Even though they aren’t technically breaking any laws, frankly, I find their tournament and practices appalling, and while I typically reserve this page for lighthearted subjects, I just can’t stop myself from calling them out and addressing an issue concerning a fish that’s far too special to catch only once — plain and simple.