The first question we have to ask ourselves - is this a realistic scenario?
Well, according to this article from the WWF (World Wildlife Fund, not the World Wrestling Federation!) "Even in the least damaging scenario, say a 1°C rise along with an increase in rain and snow, glaciers will continue to lose volume over the coming century." At the very least, the world waters will RISE only a few feet. Image if it is far worse...
Fishermen have been using it for centuries to catch their dinner and feed their families. Over the past few hundred years, there has been an improvement to this type of gear, namely the Speargun. If you find yourself in a similar situation, a speargun is a handy tool to have by your side, and a proven way to harvest food from the ocean.
The water visibility:
Keep in mind that the longer your gun is, the more powerful it will be. Most people have the tendency to buy the longest gun possible. In my opinion, this is the wrong mentality. You really should take into account WHERE you plan on hunting. In areas with low visibility you will need a shorter gun and in areas large open areas (such as open water) you will need a longer speargun.
At least in our lifetime, a lot of the manmade structures will most likely cause some kind of water pollution upon being flooded. This pollution, will not make it easy to see in the water and thus the visibility will become pretty low.
Arguably, you will need a fairly short gun, one that is around 100cm (3.2 feet) or less. Picture this - you are swimming in the ocean looking for dinner. The water conditions only offer around 8 feet of visibility. When you go spearfishing, the arm that holds the speargun is fully extended in front of your face while you swim. Let's pretend your arm is 2 feet long, with a gun that is 3 feet long; these two factors combined, your hunting arm will extend to 5 feet, giving you 3 feet to aim and shoot your fish. Any closer the fish will know you are there and swim away.
If you had a gun that was 6 feet long, with your arm fully extended your hunting arm would be 8 feet long. Your gun would be right in the fish's face, scaring it away.
The issue is that you want to be able to easily repair your gun. With a band gun, if the elastic breaks you just have to find a new one or rubber tubing to replace it. With a spring and air powered pneumatic, repairs are not that easy and usually require a mechanic.
You can get a multi band gun, but they tend to take a long time to load and are often very long. They can ONLY be used in open water conditions where the water is deep and the fish are REALLY big.
With the flooding, fish and other sea creatures will be given a new habitat. The most obvious answer will be that you can use a speargun to catch them.
Protection from Sharks?
It is hard to say what the conditions of these habitats will be like. For example if a coastal city gets flooded, lots of different types of pollution will leak into the ocean, killing a wide variety of wildlife.
Being that they are much smaller, feeder fish would be the first to die in this scenario -- leaving their predators, which are much larger and could possibly survive the conditions, with nothing to eat.
When you dive into the water to fix the leak on your boat, do you want a pocket knife, or a man at your back with a speargun to protect you?
Another obvious scenario is that bullets will be hard to come by. Your speargun could double for self protection and a way to catch dinner. Similar to a crossbow, you can reuse your projectile to defend yourself. Keep in mind you can only use a band gun on the surface and it probably will not be that accurate. Neither type of gun is designed for the surface, but you especially do not want to use a pneumatic out of the water. It fires quickly and will shatter its muzzle if fired outside of the water.
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They are exactly what they sound like, larger spearguns, with 2 or more bands that fire a single spear. These types of guns have A LOT of power, tend to be very large, have a longer loading time, and can be very expensive. One brand that specializes in this style of guns is Andre Spearguns. If your goal is survival, chances are a smaller gun would be more practical.
They have a faster loading time and are capable of catching most types of fish. For example, if you are desperately trying to survive in an environment that does not have a lot of food, you want a speargun you can quickly reload. This way if you fire your weapon and miss, you can quickly reload and get back to hunting, whereas with a multi-band gun might take you a few minutes to reload.
Keep in mind if you have a smaller speargun, hunting a shark or any larger fish will likely damage your equipment. For instance, if you shoot a fish that is too big, when it puts up a fight and tries to get away, it might bend or break your speargun.
Technically a medium sized Barracuda that weighs around 70 pounds is still a predator and you do not have to focus on catching sharks. Personally I would try to hunt more passive fish (i.e a large Grouper); you will be able to get plenty of meat from a fish of this size.
If you are truly in a survival situation, hunting anything larger might be more trouble than it is worth. You risk damaging your gear and you lack the refrigeration to store them.
As a side note, I personally do not support hunting sharks for sport. Many species of sharks are quickly diminishing and they play an important role in the ocean. Although I am certainly not an expert in shark biology, from what I understand many species of sharks urinate though their skin. There are species of shark you can eat, but those that release excrement though their skin probably will not taste very good.
Most spearfishermen (also referred to as a "spearos") view themselves as watermen, a group of people that want to protect the ocean for future generations. Unless it is a dire situation and you have no choice, DO NOT take something from the ocean that you do not plan on consuming.
Currently what most underwater hunters do is use their speargun for protection during a shark encounter. For example, in places like South Africa, running into sharks while spearfishing is somewhat common. It is better to wait at the surface, don't panic or splash, and keep an eye on the shark until it leaves.
Here is an example of a spearos encounter with a shark from YouTube. Notice how he doesn't fire his speargun, he simply uses it as a precaution if matters turn for the worst.
It is important to at least learn from an experienced spearo how to operate your speargun. After all, they are very dangerous and can possibly harm or kill another individual. Whenever you perform any type of sport that involves going in the ocean, you never want to go alone, always bring a friend or make new ones at your local club.
Freediving is the art of holding one's breath for extended periods of time while you dive deep. The advantage of becoming certified is that you will learn how to efficiently descend into the depths of the ocean and have longer underwater time. With each dive you will spend more time under the water, giving you more opportunities to catch fish.
It is also worth mentioning that countless people have overestimated their ability and died as a result. Be safe and get the proper training.
As an added bonus, you will be able to catch a wider variety of marine life since you can dive deeper. You will be able to catch lobster, crayfish, oysters, sea urchins, and countless other types of bottom dwellers to consume. Aside from a pair of gloves, you will not require any equipment or spears to catch those bottom dwellers.
Either in a survival or a "just for fun" situation, most would agree the freediving method of Spearfishing would be more effective. When you use tanks, with each dive you will only have about 50 minutes of air. If you did not catch any fish before your air runs out, both you and your stomach are out of luck. When you freedive, you can spearfish literally all day. There is no time limit on your trip or oxygen levels.
If you do not have one in the first place or your speargun breaks, there is really no reason to panic. As long as you can locate a piece of rubber tubing or elastic you can still make a pole spear or a Hawaiian sling.
Not all spearfishermen use spearguns, many prefer to use a pole spear. It is a pretty basic piece of equipment that consists of a spear and a long piece of elastic or rubber tubing that is attached to the base of the spear. The concept is that you pull the tubing around half way up the spear; when you see a fish of your liking, you simply release the spear to fire forwards the fish.
Here is a pretty good video of someone explaining how to fire a pole spear.
The disadvantage of the pole spear is that it cannot fire as far as a speargun. You will have to get fairly close to the fish before you can shoot. That does add an extra element of excitement to hunting. You will have to dive deep, perhaps hide behind a large rock, and wait a few movements for a fish to come into range before catching it.
As far as travel is concerned, in many countries spearguns are illegal. In the Bahamas and Panama, you cannot bring a speargun into their country. If you plan on hunting in their waters, a pole spear is a must.
Below is a pretty good video of how to make a basic Hawaiian sling. As you can see in the video, the young gentlemen makes one in about 15 minutes.
In the video above, he uses metal to make the sling. Realistically you can use about anything that is heavy duty material. For instance, a straight piece of wood with a sharp edge should work just fine.
When you descend to the depths of the ocean, do not stir up the bottom. If you do, sand and mud will get all over the place, scare off the fish, and limit your visibility.
If you recklessly move though the ocean, you will not catch anything and the fish will stay far away from you. Remember you are trying to become an underwater hunter who tracks fishes and brings home dinner.
If you are reading this on the internet, most likely the underwater apocalypse has yet to arrive. Please fish responsibly and do not remove anything from the ocean that deserves to remain there. Always notify someone where you are going before diving, bring a friend, and be safe!