[Coral-List] snorkelers and divers

Eugene Shinn eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu
Wed Sep 21 15:23:33 EDT 2016

The kind remarks about my look back at the past regarding snorkels and 
scuba were greatly appreciated. One may wonder why many of us early 
divers (in the 1950s) resisted snorkels so strongly. In those days 
spearfishing was the main reason people got into the water. At the time 
breath-holding spearfishing contests were popular and sponsored by the 
AAU(Amateur Athletic Union}. They hosted spearfishing contests at both 
State and National levels. Contests continued into the 1960s when 
killing fish for sport began losing popularity. Underwater photography 
had not yet caught on and few people in Florida, other than Jerry 
Greenberg, could afford underwater cameras (he produced and sold Sea 
Hawk housings for the Argus C3 35mm camera). Spearfishing remained king 
and a young diver could make money selling speared fish to fish markets 
and restaurants in the Miami area. And don’t forget lobster, which 
brought more money than fish (as much as 25 cents/lb. while fish like 
grouper and snapper garnered 15 to 20 cents/lb.

Two to three person teams in a 15 to 20 foot outboard boat generally did 
most of the spearfishing back then. Communication was key to efficiency. 
We divers could talk to each other when we surfaced for air. That was 
when your ears were out of the water. Often someone using a snorkel 
would be invited along but once they left the boat and their ears 
submerged they were in another world and communication ceased. When they 
swam off with their ears underwater we wasted a lot of time yelling to 
get them back when it was time to pull the anchor. In a spearfishing 
contest it was especially important for the team to communicate. As we 
got older and smarter we eventually discovered how much energy was saved 
using a snorkel. Ah the good ole days when reef fish were abundant. 
Ironically we blamed the hook and line fishermen when fish began to 
decline.We now know that fish in Florida had already begun to decline 
before spearfishing became popular. For an amazing and interesting look 
at Florida fishing in the 1930s and 40s read “Son of the Sea” by Gilbert 
Voss (University Press of Florida). His posthumous book was published 
earlier this year. And yes, I was a reviewer. Gene


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158
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