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Diving deep for the GGYA: Spear fishing for the award has its own rewards

Published: Jun 26, 2013

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Freeport, Grand Bahama - It's almost like a scene from a novel, where three teenagers explore the mysteries of the deep blue sea.

Nicholas Rolle, Andrew Goodrum and his twin brother, Trevor, share a common bond — their affinity for spear fishing.

It's an unusual hobby for the average 16-year-old. However, the trio uses the activity to fulfill skills requirements for their Governor General's Youth Award (GGYA).

The GGYA is a member of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award. The Award is an exciting self-development program available to all young people worldwide. Once participants have successfully completed hiking expeditions, community service engagements, mastered new skills and participated in physical activities, they are eligible for a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award.

The trio received their Silver Award.

More students have enrolled in the program than ever before over the last three years, thanks to a financial partnership struck between the GGYA and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in 2010. Funding from the G.O.L.D. Initiative has helped to make the program more national in scope, reviving once defunct Family Island units and bringing new ones on stream.

For the three eleventh grade students at the Lucayan International School, the GGYA presents them with an opportunity to get more mileage out of something they love to do. Spear fishing trips make for an exciting adventure, particularly when the occasional shark comes swimming along.

"We regularly see them, but they keep their distance and we keep ours," joked Andrew. "The only time we run into problems with the sharks is after we spear a fish and blood goes in the water, but the best thing to do is just drop the spear and give it to the shark, because a new spear is a lot cheaper than a new leg or arm."

The twins have always had an affinity for spear fishing. Still, with every dive they not only go deeper, but also learn something new.

"Every time we see a fish that we've never seen before, we go online or look at books to see what kind of fish that was and if it's edible or if it tastes good," Trevor explained. "If we see it again, we'll try and catch it. We've been seeing a lot of lion fish and so we are trying to clean the reefs by catching them, because they are destroying the reefs."

A favored spot is near the Grand Lucayan Resort in the Port Lucaya Canal.

"People always say the best fishing is down east, but Trevor, Nick and I disagree," said Andrew. "The biggest lobster and hogfish we have ever caught was right here in front of Our Lucaya."

When spear fishing the teens don't all dive into the water at once, they rotate with one boy remaining onboard the boat, acting as a look-out for sharks or other boaters.

A typical spear fishing expedition could last four to five hours as the youths perfect their fishing technique.

"We learn more techniques on how to dive deeper, which fish to hunt and where to hunt. We mainly go after hog fish and grouper because they are the best tasting fish," said Nicholas, who credits his dad with teaching him the skill.

Although the boys are going after a GGYA Award, fishing still has its own rewards — whenever they catch a mother-load of crawfish, they're quick to sell them at the right price.

"It's just something [we] love," said Trevor. "It's something to do to relax and have fun."

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