Dive watches are becoming increasingly popular within the spearfishing world, and I believe they pack massive benefits when used correctly. However, like most of my ideas regarding spearfishing topics, my opinion on dive watches may come across as controversial. I don’t believe you need a dive watch, and I would go so far as to say that using a dive watch has the potential to do more harm than good. Whilst I have used a dive watch sporadically throughout my time, I have never personally owned one. As such, my experience comes from using friend’s watches, or using the devices provided on freediving courses.
I was prompted to write this article after more than a few people at the start of their spearfishing journey messaged me to ask what dive watch they needed for spearfishing.
I’ve been spearfishing for about 15 years now. I had started after watching a friend who was involved in the sport, and instantly I was hooked. In fact here’s a pic of me back in the day 👇👇
Prior to spearfishing, I already had a massive connection with the ocean, which I had gained from snorkeling at a young age, and jumping off big cliffs around Torquay into the ocean. This involved avoiding rocks both above and below the water, which was dangerous stuff.
I had already been spearfishing for a couple of years before completing a PADI scuba course for my birthday. This was when I began to learn more about the technical side of diving, and whilst most of this wasn’t too relevant to spearfishing or freediving, it did put a dive computer on my wrist and teach me to keep an eye on my depth. From then on, I wasn’t too enthused by scuba diving. Lugging all the gear around seemed incredibly restricting and unnatural after years of spearfishing. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic experience.
The next time I used a dive watch was on a spearfishing trip in Fiji, where I trialed one for a week and a half of diving, and subsequently on freediving courses I completed in Malta and the UK. I enjoyed the novelty of having a dive watch and the ability to precisely calculate depth instead of just going “yeahhh that’s about 12m”. I have also since borrowed friend’s watches whilst diving in the UK, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines.
I can understand how dive watches can be beneficial to spearos, and I have witnessed this through my primary dive buddy Andy. He purchased a dive watch, and this pushed him to accentuate his diving through deeper dives and extended bottom times. It’s an excellent device for sure and used correctly.
Here’s what I don’t like about dive watches
I have unfortunately witnessed individuals become fixated on the digits that dive watches produce, which I believe is dangerous because it can mislead and distract a diver from the dangers of depth and breath-hold.
I’d go one step further by stating that dive watches can, and have, killed people. I dive each day according to the day. I do not time each dive, nor do I record the depths to which I’m diving. I play each day as it comes. Some days, I feel more comfortable and will go deeper. Other days I don’t. Now whilst I have a rubbish conception of time in the water (sorry to anyone who has done a 6 hour + dive with me waiting for me to come back to shore), I do have my GoPro recording some dives, so I know roughly what my bottom times are.
Some clips show me on the bottom for 20 seconds. Other dives have shown me on the bottom for close to 2 minutes when distracted by marine life, deep in thought or waiting for a fish to come in to be shot.
I instinctively listen to my body. Without the dive watch, I am less focused on comparing myself to previous performances and more focused on just listening to what my body is saying. Each day is uniquely different and your body’s condition, its fuel (food and drink), mental state, water temperature, visibility, fish life, the weather, location with also differ day to day all of these things play a factor in your breath-hold.
I generally believe no two dives are the same. Whilst they may be incredibly similar, all it takes is one extra fish on the bottom that manages to grab your attention to be enough to impact your breath-hold.
This is because distractions or tasks can allow you to ignore the body’s natural alarm system. Some of the longest dives I have on camera are me watching a strange interaction or waiting for that fish just hanging on the edge to come in that little closer.
Having a dive watch on your wrist allows you to concentrate on exactly how long you’ve been holding your breath and at what depth you are at. This is why I find them so dangerous, as divers can become so fixated on the numbers and achieving certain goals instead of listening to their body’s innate response to the dive time and depth. Hence, unless you are explicitly capable of seeing the numbers as only a useful set of data and not a standard level of achievement, dive watches can be a dangerous tool.
Let’s say you can dive all day to 20m with a minute on the bottom each dive. If you are diving in 14m and you begin to feel slightly uncomfortable, you may check your watch and discover that you’ve only been holding your breath for 20 seconds. You will see the depth and time displayed and decide to hold for at least another 40 seconds as expected from a typical dive. This is where watches can be bloody dangerous.
Another situation where I find dive watches to be dangerous is when dives are combined with a competitive and self-determined personality. This is a personality trait that I sometimes apply to really random things but thankfully, not spearfishing anymore. By constantly seeking to beat previously recorded times, it can land you in a world of trouble. Some dive watches will calculate surface rest times and provide the user with a beep to let them know when it’s safe to dive again. They may also lock until sufficient time has passed to prevent you from diving before a reasonable surface rest interval. This is an excellent feature, but again you shouldn’t disregard what your body tells you just because your watch says it’s okay to dive.
Other funky features of dive watches, such as water temperature, may indicate to you when it’s likely to encounter certain species of fish, which is of course a general timekeeping piece. To summarise, I think dive watches are an excellent tool for spearfishing if the individual uses them as a guide and not as a target. I do think they can absolutely improve the safety of a spearo.
However, you should always listen to your body first and foremost. It’s trying to keep you alive, so pay attention! Don’t hold yourself to the performance of your past dives and understand that your performance in the water will fluctuate from day to day, which is totally normal and perfectly okay.
You should only attempt deep dives and personal bests in the company of experienced/trained friends with ideal conditions.
If you are just getting into spearfishing, I’d advise you to not bother with a dive watch to begin with, focus on developing basic snorkel and hunting techniques, as you progress then maybe consider a freediving course and have a play with one there. You can also borrow one off a mate or rent one before committing to purchasing one, as you progress further in your spearfishing journey.
As I said, I’ve been spearfishing for 15 years, and I have never owned a freediving/spearfishing watch, and yet I rarely go hungry (unless there’s a greedy no-good thieving seal about).
My gear laid out prior to a Hike and Spear mission!
Wet Mammal’s Top Tip: Remove your watch before you try removing your wetsuit jacket! Sounds obvious, but if you know someone with a dive watch, I bet they’ve got themselves into a pickle.
Why don’t I have a dive watch? In part, because I’m a tight arse, and I genuinely don’t have a need for it for the ground of NSW that I frequently dive. It’s enough to get a delicious feed from, and that’s all I’m after. If I lived in areas that required deeper and longer dives, I would be more likely to purchase and use one. On the other hand, I don’t know if I could trust myself diving solo and become distracted by the digits. I also enjoy going for long dives and having the excuse of not knowing what the time was if I missed important dates. With a timepiece on my wrist, the claim wouldn’t stand as well. Perhaps I wrote this whole article to convince close friends and family they are dangerous so I can keep arriving late to meetings while still wet.
Ultimately, a lot of spearfishing comes down to knowing your limitations and discovering your limits gently in good conditions and with qualified or capable people.
Considering that the United States has some of the most breathtaking spearfishing sites in the world, it’s no wonder that the interest in underwater activities continues to grow. This surge in water recreation has even prompted a marketing intelligence company to predict that the future of cameras is underwater. Allegedly, by 2027, the niche market will even be worth $15 billion. But you don’t have to wait until then to get in the game. If you want to experience the underwater wonderland like never before, you first have to find the camera for you.
Campark ACT74 Action Camera
If you’re pretty new to underwater photography and aren’t ready to shell out the big bucks, then this Campark camera is a good place to start. One of the more affordable action cameras on the market, this model will cost you anywhere between $50-60. Though despite its wallet-friendly price, the Campark ACT74 can still record in super 4K, is waterproof up to 33 feet, and has a two-inch HD screen with a 170-degree wide-angle lens. Unlike other cameras, a Campark74 already comes with useful accessories such as dual rechargeable batteries, a charging cable, clip mounts, brackets, and a waterproof case that increases its waterproof threshold to 98 feet.
Coleman C40WP Waterproof Digital Camera
A user-friendly option from the world of digital cameras, the Coleman C40WP is a waterproof and cost-efficient model that is perfect for beginners and seasoned spearfishers looking for a lightweight camera. Easy to handle thanks to its handheld size and 2.5” LCD, the C40WP also has full HD capacities that let you shoot 20-MP stills and 1080p videos. Plus, its shockproof and freeze-proof capabilities mean you can easily shoot in temperatures as low as -10 degrees C and down 10-feet depths without any extra casing.
Olympus Tough TG-6
If your idea of underwater fun involves some pretty gnarly waves and more extreme hunting, then you’ll need an equally tough camera. Enter, the Olympus Tough TG-6, which was made for such demanding pursuits. Using an all-metal body with dual locks on either hatch, the TG-6 is allegedly freeze-proof, crush-proof, dust-proof, shockproof up to 7 feet, and—most notably, for spearfishers—waterproof. Priced at $424, it isn’t the cheapest of the bunch, nor is it the sleekest. However, what you’re paying for is the somewhat analog-looking quality of this handheld camera, which is what keeps it more durable than others. Aside from a 12-MP sensor and anti-reflective coating, the TG-6 also has new white balance modes which help to enhance and capture colors underwater.
Paralenz Vaquita Dive Action Cam
Undoubtedly, the most expensive model on our list, the $700 Paralenz Vaquita Dive Action Camera is best for serious underwater photographers. Released just last year, this action camera has been specifically designed to satisfy the demands of water-based photography. Its ergonomic cylinder tube form and 240-gram weight make it easy to handle. Waterproof up to 115 feet and shockproof up to 16 feet, the Paralenz Vaquita can also handle temperatures of up to -40 degrees C. What’s more this camera has white balance modes that ensure every 12 MP-still and 4K 60fps/30fps can capture all the hues underwater. The Paralenz Vaquita also has a GPS, a 9-axis gyroscope, and an accelerometer.
Of course, should you purchase any of these cameras, it’s best to brush up on both your spearfishing andunderwater photography skills. Practice your buoyancy and take plenty of test shots (with both the spear and the camera). Before you know it you’ll be a master of both!
While this is no doubt an enjoyable hobby, it can cost a pretty penny. Luckily, there are a bunch of resources online, like articles, podcasts, and videos. To make it easier, we’ve even compiled some of our favorites into an ultimate noob guide that you can check out here. Once you’ve done some reviewing, then you can make an even more informed decision about what camera you need. Then, all that’s left to do is take the plunge.
Words by Eric Anderson (@eric_janderson) | Images by Aiden Brown (@aiden__brown)
It grows fast and can get really thick. How the hell do you dive in that stuff?
Well, let me tell you there are some techniques to navigating these fast-growing algae. Macrocystis Pyrifera or Giant Kelp is common along the coast of the North Eastern Pacific of California and in Southern oceans around South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. In ideal conditions of summer sun and cold waters, giant kelp can grow upwards of eighteen inches a day.
Macrocystis Pyrifera or Giant Kelp
A kelp forest can look very different depending on the reef structure and age of the kelp bed. Kelp connects to reef structure or rocks with a holdfast, a system of foothold ‘roots’ that grab hold tight, for the kelp stalks and fronds to grow all the way to the surface. When a kelp bed gets a thick system of stalks and grows to the point the kelp can lay flat on the surface, the kelp bed can be very thick and create a twelve-plus inch mat on the surface. Sometimes the kelp is so thick you could probably walk across it if you were relatively lightweight (I am not relatively lightweight and would never try this :))
Eric resting on the surface amongst a kelp forest
Techniques to dive in kelp come with practice and experience. The first step is to be comfortable and calm. Of course, this is critical in diving in general but much more so when you feel like the ocean is closing in on you. It can feel very claustrophobic with your head, shoulders, and body floating on the surface surrounded by kelp. Not to mention a mask, snorkel, weight belt, fins, etc. to potentially get stuck and caught up in the kelp. Remember this, if you do get caught by kelp on your descent, ascent, or on the surface do not move quickly; you need to slow down. Slow your movements and identify the kelp stalk on your head, mask, foot, or elsewhere and grab the kelp in both hands, and use a quick snapping pull (like snapping a belt), and more often than not it should rip apart easily. If it doesn’t, make a single wrap in each hand and try again. Pull hard! If this doesn’t work, get out your dive knife and go to work. The number one rule is to not panic and keep in mind kelp can be snapped in between two fingers. Stay calm and rip it apart!
Once you’re comfortable in the kelp and ready to start making your dive, there are a few tips that can help make this a productive and efficient process. First, keep a low horizontal profile. Think about your snorkel placement. Having a snorkel dangle of the left or right side of your head, in my opinion, is a recipe to get tangled or have your snorkel ripped off your mask. I prefer to keep my snorkel attached to the back of my mask strap. This way when I make a dive my snorkel lays flat against my left should/neck area and on the ascent lays flat again against me. When I surface, I’m able to pop my snorkel in my mouth and only expose the back of my head and mask strap to the surface for my breathe up. Depending on what you’re hunting, remaining stealthy and quiet on the surface is critical. Popping up through the kelp, splashing around, and getting tangled does no one any good, and the fish will laugh at you. Remain stealthy and quiet!
When you begin your duck dive, leg placement is key. If the kelp is sparse and few and far between, this is not as big of an issue. If the kelp is really thick, there is a technique I use. Placing both legs against the kelp on the surface, I begin my dive with a quick bend at the waist forward and one hand pull down. This will clear me from the surface and the kelp to make my first kick under the canopy. For a straight efficient dive, use the kelp stalk like a dive line to make it to the bottom. Once down, it’s always fun to lay on your back and admire the great kelp forest before hunting its inhabitants.
Once you’re ready for your ascent, there is a great technique to clear the kelp and make room for your head and mask. As I get close to the surface, I use my left arm at a 45-degree angle in front of me, from left to right, and place my left hand to the right of my head and mask. Once my left-hand breaks the surface, I sweep the kelp from right to left with my left arm and clear a small hole. This allows me to pop the back of my head and snorkel in a small clearing, unobstructed. It takes practice but it can be done!
Eric with his best Ling from 2020 📷: @aiden__brown | Gun 36” mid-handle by @captainblyspearguns | reef was lit up with @darkwatersdiveco V11 light saber
There are many techniques to diving in kelp and these are a few that really help me. What I’ve seen and learned is that it takes practice time and time again to perfect diving in thick kelp. It can be a frustrating mess if you move quickly, get frustrated, and do not remain calm. If you’re concerned with kelp, go out slick without any spearing gear. Get used to it and practice, introduce one piece of gear at a time if you have to. It’s always a bummer to see a new diver get frustrated and give up because the kelp is too great a challenge.
Lastly, enjoy the kelp forest! This is a living ecosystem that deserves nothing but our utmost respect.
Wandering in the Kelp forests of the Arctic waters of the North by @dr_kelsea
Vibin’ to some of my husband, @kallesjolund ‘s ocean and love inspired music, “Liquid Love”, and getting lost in my nerdy thoughts.
Did you know that many cold water species of kelp contain compounds that fight cancer and kill germs?
To name a few: Porphyrin, Carragenan, Laminarin, Fucoidin, Meroditerpinoids, Polypheol, Flavoids, and more yet to be discovered have shown promise against Colorectal cancers, Breast cancers, and other types of tumors.
Imagine what other discoveries can be made in these forests to heal the human body?
I know one thing for certain, my heart, mind, and soul are recharged and at peace, every time I go for a “walk in the woods.” I’m always vibin’ in Kelp.
We really should do our best to understand, preserve, and protect them. Kelp forests truly are our planet’s lungs and lifeline.
Music composed by and copyright (C) to Kalle Sjølund.
If you don’t know what a podcast is don’t worry you’re not alone. A podcast is simply recorded audio (like a radio show) but it’s not live. It’s also often been edited and then distributed around the internet to different podcast directories (think podcast apps) such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and many others. Watch this short video to learn how to subscribe and download a podcast.
Audio (and video) Podcasts have become a popular way for people to learn, become connected and engaged with spearfishing. Check out this list of spearfishing Podcasts available for you to download, subscribe and listen to. If we are missing one, let us know in the comments below!
The SpearFactor Podcast features spearfishermen and watermen from around the world to share their experiences in the ocean in order to help us all become better divers and stewards of the ocean. The experts that Bret Whitman has on the show covers all facets of a life based around the ocean. These areas include surfing, freediving, boating, gear manufacturing, fitness training, and cooking. The goal of having this diversity is to help you become a more educate and complete spearfishing ambassador. Find out more at www.spearfactor.com
As a one-stop-shop for spearfishing, foraging, culinary content, activism and conservation, Fin + Forage seeks to build a community around a shared passion for wild and responsible food. The cornerstone of Fin + Forage is a multi-media hub for educational content. With contributions from the spearfishing community, scientists and chefs, Fin + Forage promotes safe diving and sustainable practices while providing the tools to become a better and more well-rounded hunter-gatherer. Hosted by Ryan Gentry!
We love catching fish and we want to share the stoke with you. Our goal is to bring on members of the fishing community to share tips and stories to help you catch more fish. We cover a wide variety of fishing methods including surf fishing, spearfishing, inshore and offshore fishing. If you have suggestions for what you’d like us to cover, shoot us a DM on Instagram @castandspear. Tight lines and we’ll see you on the water!
Join me as I take a deep dive into all things Freediving and explore even more about this amazing sport that has give me so much. My name is Ted Harty and I teach people to freedive deeper, stay longer and become safer. I’m the founder of Immersion Freediving as well my new pride and joy www.FreedivingSafety.com. Dive safe out there, it’s not even that hard.
Taz was one half of the “Podcast Yarns With Az And Taz”, he’s a Far North Queensland Australian Banana Farmer, Recreational Fisherman/Spear fisherman on the Great Barrier Reef, Jiujitsu Practitioner, Musician and Passionate Family man. Come have a listen to all the truths and tales from all the crazy crew he invites into his Podcave and share his Yarns with ya mates!!
The all ocean, fishing and spearfishing podcast with all the excitement and fun but none of the wank! Hosted by stand up comedian and WA Raw Winner, Squirly and fishing and spearfishing champion Leigh Mitchell.
Norwegian Spearfishing Podcast Hosted by Ivan Knudseth & Ørjan Dyrnes. Just Add Water er en podcast som tar for seg den fantastiske verdenen i, ved og under vann. Her vil vi snakke om undervannsjakt, fridykking, fangst, matlaging, turer, konkurranser og generelt alt som har med havet og de muligheten du har med en gang du setter på deg en våtdrakt, strammer dykkermasken, trekker pusten og dykker ned i en verden full av eventyr. Bli med oss da vel!
Exploring our planet’s wildlife through genuine conversations with scientists, conservationists, nature lovers, and individuals who have had profound experiences with wild animals. Martin Kitto is a New Jersey based spearo and curious guy with an engaging style. His show features several spearfishing specific interviews and episodes. Listen in.
Uvpodcast handler om fridykning og uvjagt. Morten Rosenvold Villadsen forfatter til ‘Hold Vejret – en bog om fridykning’ og blogger har forskellige gæster i studiet og der bliver talt om rejser, fisk, vand, dykning uden vejrtrækning, rekordforsøg og der bliver delt ud af tips og tricks fra mange års erfaring med rejser med harpun, snorkel og våddragt i bagagen.
The Spearfishing Podcast I wish existed when I was starting out. I am your host Roman Castro from SpearoBlog. I started THE SPEAR to interview other Spearos and Spearfishing companies to learn from their experiences and share them with YOU. This Podcast is now no longer updated.
This Ocean Life Podcast. 130+ episodes. Weekly podcast series capturing the stories and perspectives of people around the world who have based their lives on the ocean. Fishing, free diving, art, music, surfing, paddling, spearfishing, conservation, sailing, anything in the ocean… Hosted by Josh Pederson, from Santa Cruz, California, USA. This podcast has not been updated for a while.
Join Harvesting Nature’s very own, Justin Townsend and the HN Crew as they guide you through the world of cooking wild fish and game meat, their adventures to obtain food, and the lessons learned along the way. Harvesting Nature is a media outlet with the main focus to educate and inspire those wishing to live the outdoor lifestyle with a focus of hunting and fishing for food. Follow along with us as we help you Find your Wilderness Please reach out with questions and comments to [email protected]
The official podcast of “Adventureman Dan” and his adventures around the world. Here you will find many in depth discussions about all things adventure! Stories, advice, how to and of course a few laughs from his exploits spearfishing, sailing, freediving, van life, and much much more. Enjoy!
Salty journals is a podcast for ocean lovers. You may be a surfer, kitesurfer, Freediver, Spearfisher, or just really into hanging on the beach at the weekend. This podcast brings together stories and tales from ocean addicts.
The sense that somethings not right and the constant distraction like a buzzing bee hovering around your head.
Yep, you’ve just seen a shark OR your imagination (or 6th sense) has just triggered your anxiety. Not a pleasant feeling and one that most of us who dive in waters with plenty of the ‘men in grey suits’ aka ‘the taxman’ can empathize with. Although, like many things in life that scare you, exposure can steadily desensitize you. The caveat to this is to NEVER lose your respect for sharks OR believe that you ‘have control of them’ because you don’t.
“Newbie spearo here (got my first fish the other day) with a question: How do I manage shark anxiety? I know the stats and ‘rarity’ of being attacked, but I just can’t shut off the anxiety switch. I need to get past this as providing for myself is a large life goal. Cheers for your help in advance.” – Lee (Rewritten from a Facebook Group Spearfishing Victoria)
Some good advice and wisdom was shared following this post;
Galin“Someone told me that a trip to QLD and diving with the blokes up there can break any shark anxiety. Maybe worth a go?”
Blake“Second Galin. I went to QLD and dived in some crappy vis. When I got back to Melbourne I didn’t even think about sharks anymore.”
Luke “With any anxiety, you slowly introduce yourself to the environment that is making you feel that way until your brain no longer perceives it as a threat. So start by doing short trips and you’ll eventually adjust.”
These guys have tapped into some wisdom here. Psychologists describe this process as desensitization and if done gradually can habituate spearos to obstructive fears. Over time they find that their reactions to sharks and/or situations where they begin to experience anxiety decreases. Exposure can help to weaken previously learned associations between sharks and bad outcomes (think JAWS movies). Possibly the greatest benefit to healthy shark exposure teaches spearos that they are capable of confronting their fears and can manage the anxiety. During positive exposure to sharks, a spearo can learn to attach new, more realistic beliefs about sharks, shark behavior and how to adapt their own personal response to them.
Accept anxiety, don’t fight it, sit with it and learn to bear it. It will diminish.
Learn breathing techniques to relax on the surface and reduce fear and anxiety.
Being in situations with sharks when the water is clean and the sharks are relatively calm can acclimatize you to the fear.
Turn fear into curiosity – learn about sharks. Observe their behaviour. Research their body language and cues. Knowledge dispels fear (gradually).
Ground yourself in the moment by paying attention to the details.
Prepare to not be prepared. Do what is in your control and listen to your dive buddy.
Is it worth it?
Sharks an be unpredictable and dangerous, they can kill you. They are often big, unimaginably fast, sometimes sneaky and you are in their environment however MOST of the time they are wary of us and you can learn techniques to dissuade their attention. You can also avoid shark red flag moments to minimize the risk too;
🚩 Dusk – when the last light of the day hits the water, sharks can be at their most erratic.
🚩 Struggling Fish – blood in the water is far less of a turn-on for sharks than a fish flailing on a hook and line OR a spear. Dispatch quickly and spearfish in pairs/groups.
🚩 Dirty Water – Brisbane Bullsharks are notorious for their confidence in dirty water and they aren’t alone. When you see big sharks in <6/7Meters (20ft) vis, get out and move spots.
“I don’t want to not live because of my fear of what could happen. If you stop exploring, everything becomes smaller. Fear is an unbelievable motivator. Fear is a natural response. Without it, we wouldn’t survive. Meet up with your fears. If you’re afraid of sharks, go learn all about sharks. Get into the water with one.” – Laird Hamilton.
What Do You Think?
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Which technique from today’s post are you going to use first?
Are you going to get in the water with sharks? Or try some breathing techniques to calm down?
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.