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.
Spearfishing an ancient method of fishing. For thousands of years spearfishing was done from the shore using a head held wooden spears.
Jack Prodanowich and Wally Potts displaying their catch. These paddleboards allowed divers to venture further out into the ocean to dive.
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.
Jack Prodanowich and a 127 pound Ulua.
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.
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.
Tom Otsubo's stainless steel closed muzzle attached to maple wood stock.
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.
Hupa Indian man with spear, standing on a rock mid-stream in the Pacific Northwest.
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.