Fish-on-the-Wall and Deep Undercover at VB14
Zombie Trigger Fish, Killer Mosquitoes and a Banana Famine... It's got to be... Vertical Blue 2014!
By Terry Tarpon: Fish-on-the-Wall and Deep Undercover at VB14
How can you tell when a group of freedivers arrive on a remote tropical island? Easy. The next day there are no bananas anywhere. "They're like locusts!" One old Bahamian lady told me, displaying several bruises and a black eye that she got from being trampled in the scrum for the last remaining bunch. Over the next few days as we wait for the weekly supply boat to arrive there are hordes of us, skeletal, hollow-eyed, wandering the aisles of the Sunflower Supermarket like departed spirits. Once I actually see someone desperately chomping on a plantain with the same look I've seen in the eyes of a junkie on methadone. Plenty of beer left though. A plague of locusts there may be, but if it's biblical references you're after, it's the island that's supplying the flies. I've lived in hot countries before, I've dealt with mosquitoes, but these little fuckers are deadly beyond reason. Set foot outside the door without repellent on and it's like 28 days later. Swarms of them. They've got no scruples, they'll bite you anywhere. Face, lips, in your butt-crack. I swiped one off my eyeball yesterday. Even UK record holder Michael Board, ex marine, a man trained for jungle warfare, was seen slapping at himself wildly and shouting. Poor Marianna Krupnitskaya, too, figurehead for the Russian ladies in the absence of Natalia, looked like she'd contracted a rare and virulent strain of measles yesterday. We've tried gassing them, but the island's biting back.
For the first 5 days of training, an enormous (10cm) zombie trigger fish took up residence under the main platform. Eye witnesses maintain it's the same fish that was relocated in a bucket this time last year but if that's true, it's taste for human flesh has clearly not been satiated. Serbian Lena Jovanovic was one of its early victims, and one of the most seriously injured. "It was like Jaws" she told me afterwards, showing me the pin-sized gashes in her finger and the tip of her right third-toe. "You could see it's eye just...looking at you!". The Eastern Europeans, naturally, wanted to kill it, but, under pressure from their more soft-hearted friends participated in the second "capture and release" program to which this particular fish has been subject. It took 5 freedivers 45 minutes to trap the predator in a mesh kit-bag and relocate it to "some rocks over there" according to Blue Hole Guardian Will Trubridge, who was the leader of the operation. It hasn't been seen since, but every now and then I can't help but get the feeling that there's something in the water...