An expectant mother has inspired women, fishing enthusiasts and others after she threw a potential world record fish while snorkeling at eight months pregnant.
Julie Augustine, 40, of Destin, Florida, nailed a 37.6-pound black drum with her nine-foot slip-tip Bermudan pole on October 1, 2022 – and now the catch is awaiting certification of the world record. world of the International Underwater Spearfishing Association.
“I have been approached by several people who recognize me,” Augustine told Fox News Digital in a phone interview, “and they will come and share how inspiring my story has been to them and how it has motivated them. to get up off the couch and do something they wouldn’t normally do after reading about what I was able to do during my pregnancy.”
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“It’s one of the most beautiful and special things to come out of it,” she said.
Augustine, a medical assistant and Air Force veteran, started freediving after taking a freediving safety course in 2020 and earning her certification.
She said she finally heard about pole fishing from locals who spoke highly of the sport.
She didn’t have the most outdoor experience growing up, but Augustine said she was open to pole vaulting because she was looking for a water sport to help her stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic. , she said.
Augustine estimates that in two years she has done four or five dozen free dives.
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During her pregnancy, she reduced her dives as a precaution against sharks.
“During the warmer months, like August, it gets pretty shrill,” Augustine said. “Bulldog sharks love to be where people are fishing.”
She said the black drum she caught on October 1 was the first time she had been back in the water since her fifth month of pregnancy.
Augustine said she was grateful to have been taught free diving and perching by experts who emphasized the importance of safety, including proper apnea and control, diving techniques, familiarization with the equipment and problem solving.
“I’m so lucky to live in one of the best places in the world, really, for snorkeling and harpooning,” Augustine said.
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When she goes pole fishing, Augustine wears a wetsuit, a weighted belt, a set of fins, a mask and a snorkel. The equipment she uses includes her pole, knife, and belt retractor.
The harpoon is one of the “more primitive” and “not as maneuverable” methods of spearfishing, Augustine noted, compared to spear guns.
“[Polespears are] exactly what you imagine [them] be. You have bands going out with a trigger pole,” Augustine said.
“On the spear that I use, you basically only have the three components, which is the tip of the spear, the handle, and then the band on the back,” she continued.
“The way you load it, you reach back, grab the band with one hand, then pull as far as you can on the spear handle, and all the ‘connection energy’ is stored in this band within your arm.”
Augustine advises all spearfishermen to dive with a buddy or crew who may be on the lookout for marine wildlife or other dangers.
“You have to get very close to what you’re hunting to try to get a good shot,” she added.
Catching fish with a pole can attract sharks, which is why Augustine advises all spearfishermen to dive with a buddy or crew who may be on the lookout for marine wildlife or other dangers.
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According to Augustine, people who can dive 80 to 90 feet in a single breath hold generally have access to more fish.
Identifying fish in accordance with local laws and environmental guidelines is another challenge that occurs underwater, she noted.
“You just have to know the rules very, very well,” Augustine said.
“Some fish may look very similar, and some types are only available for hunting at a particular time of year during a particular season.”
Although pole vaulting can be multi-tasking, Augustine said she views the sport as a form of self-care.
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“When you’re spearing the fish, of course, there’s this adrenaline rush. But, when it comes to snorkeling, you have to be in an almost meditative state where you’re slowing down your breathing, and you’re slowing down your heart rate said Augustine.
“One of the best things you can do during pregnancy is relax and stay calm.”
Augustine said she was glad she was able to maintain a calm environment for her first baby, and that she listened to her body and her obstetrician.
“I’m very lucky to have this very healthy pregnancy so far,” she said, adding that she hopes “it continues like this. I choose not to listen [to] or focus on any negativity.”
She would be open to pole vaulting with her son in the future, she said, when he is old enough and interested in the sport, but she will also support any other activity he wishes to pursue.
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Augustine said she hopes women who read her story realize that they don’t have to give up an opportunity or experience because of their age or pregnancy.
The current world record for a black drum caught by a female via a sling or pole is 36.3 pounds, according to the International Underwater Spearfishing Association’s current records database.
Augustine said she recently submitted her paperwork for world record review.
“You have to have different images, different testimonies and different witnesses,” Augustine explained.
“You put together a brief and then you submit it online. Once it’s submitted, it’s voted on by their board. If they need any clarifying information, they’ll get back to me,” he said. she adds.
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“I don’t know how long this process takes,” she said. “It’s in their hands now.”
Fox News Digital has contacted the International Underwater Spearfishing Association for comment.