A Visual History of Spearfishing and Freediving

Since he was a boy, Sonny Tanabe has been in the water, as a competitive swimmer, freediver, and spearfisherman. In his second book, The Evolution of Freediving, he writes about the history, the tools, and the heroes of this sport. Here are our favorite shots from the book. (Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)
The History of Freediving

The History of Freediving and Spearfishing

Since he was a boy, Sonny Tanabe has been in the water, as a competitive swimmer, freediver, and spearfisherman. In his second book, The Evolution of Freediving, he writes about the history, the tools, and the heroes of this sport. Here are our favorite shots from the book.

Diving

Spearfishing an ancient method of fishing. For thousands of years spearfishing was done from the shore using a head held wooden spears.

Diving
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)


Paddleboard Spearfishers

Jack Prodanowich and Wally Potts displaying their catch. These paddleboards allowed divers to venture further out into the ocean to dive.

Paddleboard Spearfishers
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)


The Three Amigos

Bob Croft, Bob Ellsworth, and Jaques Mayol during the first international free diving competition. Taken in the Gulf Stream off of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Three Amigos
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishi)


Book Cover

Jack Prodanowich and a 127 pound Ulua.

Book Cover
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)


Spearfishing Spears

Left: Harry Yamaguchi's stainless stell open muzzle with bayonet mount for stabbing. Also an attached slip on power head for security. Right: Paul Horalan's stainless steel closed muzzle for spear guide.

Spearfishing Spears
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)


Hawaiian Divers

Two Hawaiian women divers in the 1940s. Notice the diver on the left is wearing goggles and holding a spear with a welded barb, while the diver on the right is wearing a Japanese round mask and holding a spear with a flexible spear barb.

Hawaiian Divers
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)


Spearfishing Spears

Tom Otsubo's stainless steel closed muzzle attached to maple wood stock.

Spearfishing Spears
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)


Hawaiian Spearfishing

Spearfishing was one method of Hawaiian fishing. Those skilled in this art were greatly admired. They were the Lawai'a (fishermen of high esteem) The Lawai'a passed their fishing skills and knowledge on from generation to generation.

Hawaiian Spearfishing
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishi)


Hupia Man

Hupa Indian man with spear, standing on a rock mid-stream in the Pacific Northwest.

hupa man
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)


Sueko Matsuoka

Sueko Matsuoka, an Ooama (master of freedivers), was considered the oldest Ama diver in Japan. She began her diving career at the age of 22, and was able to celebrate her 60th anniversary as an Ama diver before passing away in 2007.

Spearfishing Sonny Tanabe freediving
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)


The History of Freediving

The Evolution of Freediving presents the art of apnea and spearfishing in stunning photography.

Read an interview with the author by Brian Lam.

The History of Freediving
(Courtesy of Fluid Media Publishing)

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