Taylor the spear carrier

  • Making a splash: record-breaking spearo Taylor Baritr (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Taylor Barit with a hogfish she speared (Photograph supplied)
  • Taylor Barit with a black grouper she speared (Photograph supplied)
  • Taylor Barit on the hunt (Photograph supplied)
  • Taylor Barit, a record-breaking spearo (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Taylor Barit, a record-breaking spearo, with her gear (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Taylor Barit, a record-breaking spearo, with her gear (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Taylor Barit, a record-breaking spearo, with her gear (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Taylor Barit, a record-breaking spearo (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Making a splash: record-breaking spearo Taylor Barit (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

As her guy friends hunted fish with knives and spears, Taylor Barit looked on wondering if she also had what it took to go for the kill.

She decided she did.

Within a week she had a fishing licence and a 10ft spear. Her first catch, off Shelly Bay Shoal, was just within the legal limit.

“I’d tried a couple of times and missed so when I saw my spear go through a hogfish I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said, laughing as she recalled the tiny animal she prepared, hoping it was enough for the five people she had invited to dinner.

“It fed one-and-a-half people. But I was able to connect them with where their food had come from. I was able to tell them I caught it in 30ft of water, which is not very deep.”

Spearfishers, who frequently call themselves “spearos”, kill their catch by putting a spear or a knife directly through its brain or spine.

“It’s such a primitive way to fish,” said the animal lover, who had to push thoughts of her beloved pets aside.

Seven years later, she is a four-time record-breaker with a 55.8lb black grouper and a 12.3lb grey snapper among her many spears. She is waiting confirmation of another record courtesy of a 66lb black grouper she caught in August.

It is that attitude that got the 31-year-old a job in the film industry with no experience.

In 2009, she was working in retail in Austin, Texas, when a film crew walked in asking about her artwork drying outside.

The team from the ExTerminators, a black comedy starring Heather Graham, offered her an unpaid internship with their art department.

Ms Barit accepted on the spot.

Despite only doing mundane chores, such as getting water for the crew, she really enjoyed working on the set. When the film closed after a few months, she e-mailed the ExTerminators crew, hoping to get another job.

“You’re really not supposed to do that,” she said.

The director, John Inwood, wrote back and helped her find a similar job with Scrubs, a medical comedy-drama filmed in Los Angeles.

“He said he could see I’d been working really hard,” she said. “He’d noticed that I often came to the set even when I didn’t have to.”

The move to California parachuted Ms Barit into other short-term jobs — she spent a week as a production assistant on Sesame Street.

In 2014, she found a permanent role with Judge Judy, the popular US courtroom programme starring former family court judge Judy Sheindlin. There, she was promoted to executive assistant.

“I was the one who would do the scheduling,” she said. “I would also be on set helping my boss with anything needed in the production room.”

But after a few years she found herself missing Bermuda. In May 2016, she moved back and now works as a nanny.

“Obviously, in Los Angeles you are near the ocean,” she said.

“But the area I was near was great white shark territory. I didn’t do a lot of spearfishing there, but I did go surfing. I only heard of one shark attack though. I never had a problem.”

Once home she jumped back into her hobby.

“There were no records for hogfish at the time,” she said. “So, to make a record, I just had to get a hogfish over 10lbs.”

She succeeded twice in a day; the two hogfish weighed in at 13lbs and 17lbs.

Ms Barit thinks she is one of only a handful of women who spearfish here.

“I don’t really know why that is,” she said.

“Some of my girlfriends will just come out on the boat and tan and hang out.

“There is one other girl I know who is getting into it, who spear fishes with her husband.”

Although people who spear fish in the United States are constantly checking records, in Bermuda the aim is “to go out and have a good time and catch dinner”.

“Food is expensive here,” said Ms Barit, whose spearfishing was featured on Moveable Feast, PBS’s Emmy-nominated food travel show, when it filmed here in June.

She eats everything she catches or passes it on to friends and family.

“I like to make my own little trophies from my catches,” she said. “For example, rockfish have these things we call ‘crushers’ in the back of their throats.

“They don’t have many teeth so it helps them get the meat out of the crabs they eat. I will boil down the head and save the crushers. Sometimes I also keep the jaw from a fish.”

Follow Taylor on Instagram: @TaylorBarit