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Night dives are fun. You see things that aren't around during the day and the
colours are different. I'll tell you about them in another story. Here, I'll stick to
Humphrey and the trouble he caused.
It wasn't his fault. The blame lay with the delinquents who thought they could feed
him. As I explained in my pre-dive briefs, fish feeding is strictly out. It's bad for the fish
and could attract sharks and that could be bad for the divers.
The delinquents never listened. While I was explaining the importance of safe
diving, they were stuffing dinner scraps into the pockets of their buoyancy vests and
hiding them about their persons . I confiscated those I found but rarely had time for a
proper search. The odd chicken scrap usually got through. One night the greater part
a cooked chook escaped my search.
Humphrey must have smelt us coming. He arrived the moment we hit the deck and
made straight for one of my female charges. She was a buxom girl with a bulging
wetsuit which she began to unzip. Divers with cameras gathered round, evidently
aware that something spectacular was about to happen. Lights flashed. The zip went
down and a plastic bag popped out, followed by two pendular breasts ... sucked from
the suit by Humphrey.
Fortunately, he lusted for the chicken and not the girl. The camera lights conti nued
to flash as bits of chicken vanished down his huge gullet and the wetsuit was zipped
back up. We continued the dive and returned to the surface in good spirits. The
camera shots were first class and proved to have excellent publicity value.
The following night, I took extra precautions to ensure that nothing was taken down
for Humphrey. His exploits were entertaining but involved an unacceptable level of
risk. If I'd stopped to think, I might have realised that failure to satisfy his lust for
chicken could also raise problems.
The big cod was clearly delighted to see us . He arrived with a rush and fastened his
huge mouth onto one of my female charges before any of us realised what was
happening. The terrified girl panicked and inflated her buoyanc y vest in a frantic
attempt to break loose. She would have rocketed to the surface if I'd not managed to
grab her ankle. Over-rapid ascent can be fatal. Air expands and lungs can be burst.
The other divemasters agreed that the whole thing could have ended very badly.
Sitting around after the dive, drinking beer, we decided that Humphrey had to go. We
had powerheads to deal with sharks and had used them to protect our divers. We had
no inhibitions about shooting Humphrey, even if he was a lovable character.
At this stage, I should explain that a powerhead is an explosive device that can be
fitted to a speargun. It's as lethal as a 303 bullet and is definitely not the sort of thing
to be used at night after a couple of beers . We decided to go down and get Humphrey
the next day. By then, a storm had blown up and we were forced to return to port.
Warnings about Humphry's dangerous ways were issued to other divemasters but
no one had the heart to shoot him. Cods can live to a ripe old age . For all I know, he
is still on the Yongala cuddling up to divers.