Spearfishers have lots of camouflage gear with which to equip themselves. There are camo dive socks, camo wetsuits, camo masks, camo snorkels, camo spearguns, camo fins, camo camisoles, camo camouflage, and everything in between. Does all this gear do anything except look very cool and make the spearfisher feel like a real hunter? We asked a fish.
Seavenger (SV): Have you ever been fooled by a camouflaged spearfisher?
Flounder (F): I’m here answering your question, so obviously not. OK, I take that back. Once I was fooled by a spearfisher who distracted me by trying to whistle nonchalantly through his mask pretending to be looking at a reef, and that surprised me. But not by all his gear. Also, I’m here to tell you whistling in your mask is not a good idea.
SV: Do you think other fish are fooled by camouflage gear?
F: I’ve seen fish speared by spearfishers. But as to whether they were fooled by the camouflage, who can say? You can’t very well ask a dead fish, can you?
SV: Good point, no pun intended. Are you familiar with the history of spearfishing?
F: As a matter of fact, I am.
Spearfishing has been around ever since that first hungry prehistoric man saw a fish, and looked around for something sharp with which to kill it. And we looked around for some place to hide. Thus, early civilizations became familiar with spearing fish from rivers and streams using sharpened sticks.
Afterwards, prehistoric men got the idea that if they disguised themselves, we fish’d be fooled, and therefore easier to spear. They looked around for leaves and stuff to plaster on their bodies. That concept has persisted until today. Basically, this was the beginning of the camouflage diving gear industry.
Nowadays, there are dive shops such as yours that stock everything from camouflage spearguns, to camouflage wetsuits, camouflage dive masks, camouflage snorkels and dive socks from prestigious manufacturers such as IST.
Today, spearfishing guns consist of elastic powered and slings, or compressed gas pneumatic powered spearguns. Specialized techniques and equipment have been developed for various types of aquatic environments and target fish.
Spearfishing purists use free-diving or snorkeling equipment. I can tell you, as a fish, we respect these spearfishers. Others use scuba diving techniques. However, thankfully, mechanically-powered spearguns are outlawed in some countries. For example in many countries such as Australia spearfishing is completely prohibited in Marine Protected Areas and there are serious penalties if you are caught spearfishing in these sites. I’m actually planning on moving there.
Other rules stipulate that divers must be completely submerged when firing their guns, and that fish must not be in an artificial environment such as penned in bays. Otherwise, divers are free to indulge in man’s favorite occupation: killing things in their natural environment with equipment that far exceeds their prey’s ability to protect themselves.
The most common and easiest of all types of spearfishing is entering and exiting the sea from the beach or shore, and hunting around ocean structures, usually reef, but also rocks, kelp or sand. Usually, shore divers hunt at depths of 16 to 80 ft In the South Pacific, for instance, divers can experience drop-offs from 16 to 130 ft close to the shore line. Sharks and reef fish can be abundant in these locations. In subtropical areas, sharks may be less common, but other challenges exist such as managing entry, exit and surf. Shore diving can be done with trigger-less spears such as pole spears or ‘Hawaiian slings,’ but more commonly triggered devices such as spearguns.
From the fish’s perspective: Scuba divers like to dress up in their silly little camouflage wetsuits, camouflage gloves, camouflaged camouflage, and actually think fish are fooled. We’re not. If you look closely, you can actually see us laughing at the divers in their completely ridiculous outfits, including the aforementioned camouflage socks. But really, I think they look kind of cool. If you tell another flounder that, I’ll say it’s a lie.
By Michael McQueen, Content Manager, Seavenger.com