Do you love excellent seafood? The best way you can get it is to catch it yourself.
Spearfishing and freediving are growing in popularity in various parts of the world, particularly in Australia. It’s sustainable, ecological, fun and rewarding.
Besides delicious fresh fish from water to table, there are a host of other benefits, many of which are unexpected and surprising. Read on for the top 10 you can expect by learning how to spearfish.
1. No Bycatch
Bycatch refers to the unintentional marine species that are caught during recreational and commercial fishing. Bycatch occurs because modern fishing gear is unselective and usually covers a wide area.
The result is a huge environmental issue that has no solution at this point. Each year thousands of tonnes of bycatch are the result of fishing practices around the world.
Depending on the fishing practices, some trawlers will dump the bycatch (which is often dead) back into the ocean to avoid exceeding their weight quota.
WWF estimates that 6 cetacean species could become extinct in the next 10 years due to fishing gear entanglement.
Though many countries are putting laws in effect to limit bycatch, the environmental impact to date has been massive.
The only sure way of avoiding bycatch at this point is spearfishing. With spearfishing, you are able to confirm that the fish you are targetting is the right size, in season and fresh before you strike.
There is absolutely no bycatch with spearfishing. This is the best benefit spearfishing – it is the best practice for our planet’s marine creatures.
2. Great Exercise
If you say you fish for exercise, people will laugh in your face. Recreational fishing, even flyfishing could never be qualified as exercise.
Yet, spearfishing burns about 800 calories an hour. This may surprise you but it’s true. Diving is second only to running in the number of calories burned per hour.
Your body uses a lot of energy keeping warm (especially if you aren’t wearing a suit). You also do a lot of diving, swimming and shooting a spear – all of which burn calories and get your heart pumping.
Best of all, you don’t even feel it when you are underwater so it’s the best kind of cardio possible.
You probably don’t get into spearfishing for the exercise, but it is a great unexpected benefit that you’ll get out of it. Be warned that after a day in the water, you may have trouble climbing the rungs into the boat and be ready to sleep.
3. Improved Self Control
When you are new to spearfishing, you may accidentally scare off the fish you are trying to hunt. When you are in close proximity to fish and get excited, they sense it and bolt out of there before you can adjust your holding spear arm.
You will learn how to have the mental discipline to keep still, breathe regularly and move slowly – even when you have the prospect of many, fresh and juicy looking specimens approaching.
Learning to control your body language is a unique skill that you develop as you spearfish.
4. Prolonged Meditation as You Spearfish
One of the best mental health rewards of spearfishing is the vast amounts of time you spend in meditation.
Even though you have a dive buddy near you, when you spearfish you are focused on your breath and the present moment – both key aspects of meditation.
There are dozens of science-backed benefits of meditation including less anxiety and stress, improved attention span, self-awareness, and sleep.
To dive and surface, you must be relaxed in your body. You can hear your breath and learn to spread your awareness out from you.
Whether or not you come out with a fish, you will certainly leave with a clear and focused mind.
5. An Escape From the World
Emails, traffic, the sound of music blaring from open windows – all of these sounds of modern living disappear when you spearfish. Under the surface of the water, you escape real life and move into a tranquil, vast open space where it is just you and the ocean.
People spend thousands of dollars to travel the world in order to find themselves and a little piece of unspoiled nature. You can access both with spearfishing.
Spending time underwater gives you a fresh perspective on life. As you remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of the mundane every day, you reset and cleanse your mind of all cares that have to do with the world above.
It’s kind of like going on vacation but better. Being under the surface of the ocean gives you a look at a world few people ever experience. You don’t just get to experience new sights and cultures but new species and habitats.
It’s a priceless experience that you enjoy every time you dive down. And if you really want to broaden your horizon, check out these 10 incredible spearfishing destinations.
6. Bodily Benefits
Besides the physical benefits of burning calories, there are other bodily benefits to spearfishing. One of these is the activation of your natural mammalian dive reflex.
This happens automatically when your body is spread out horizontally and your face is in water. Your heart rate will immediately slow down by up to 25%.
This change of pace for your body and mind as your heart rate lowers is hard to describe. All freedivers will tell you that it just feels great and that the sensation is addicting.
7. Bonding Over Shared Experience
When you dive with a buddy, you are putting your safety into their hands and vice versa. During a dive, things can go wrong. When you spearfish, you work in a one up one down situation.
That way, when you are under, there’s a buddy above water looking out for danger. You return the favor when you are up. This is just one of the safety tips to follow when you are spearfishing.
Being responsible for a friend and working together forges a bond between you and your dive buddy.
You might need help to secure a fish or help your buddy get topside in a blackout situation. Having each other’s back builds camaraderie like nothing else. On top of which, you’ll have stories and memories you can share for years to come.
8. Face your Fears
Maybe you never thought that you’re afraid of sharks or being underwater. But when you actually face those encounters, it’s a lot different than when it’s theoretical or behind glass.
Facing your fears has huge psychological benefits. One reason for this is because being in a vulnerable situation (physical or emotional) can spark creativity, innovation, and change according to vulnerability expert Brene Brown.
On top of this, facing your fears is freeing and gives you a heightened sense of liberation. Each time you face a fear and come out conquerer, you gain self-confidence and stretch your risk factor a little bit further.
Pretty soon you may be chasing those dreams that you never thought you could.
9. Get Into a New Spearfish Lifestyle
Spearfishing is completely different than driving to the store to buy imported food from who knows where and heating it up.
Instead, you work hard all day to literally put food on the table. Sure, it may not be the main way you provide for your family, but even the occasional act of hunting for your food, cleaning it and preparing it gives you a newfound appreciation for food.
It’s kind of like returning to a primitive lifestyle of living off the land you live on. Even if just for the day. It is an experience that is deeply satisfying and rewarding.
Spearfishing is so much more than a hobby or sport, it’s a lifestyle.
10. Educate Others
Because spearfishing is so unique, people will have a lot of questions and want to hear your stories. And even if they don’t ask, you’ll probably tell them all about it.
Besides telling people about our encounters with sharks and incredible catches, spearfishing provides you with the opportunity of raising awareness about the state of the earth’s oceans.
It’s alarming to think that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. And this figure is based on weight, not number which is even worse.
All over the world, we are mass producing plastic that is usually used once. Though much of it is recyclable, our on-the-go society means that most of this plastic ends up in landfills and our oceans.
Plastic takes many years to decompose. But in fact, this broken down plastic residue is extremely harmful to marine life. Sea creatures often mistake these small bits of plastic for food.
Spearfishing videos often show the alarming amount of plastic pollution in our oceans. You can even see videos of fish and other creatures being dissected to reveal plastic in their stomachs.
Spreading awareness of this crucial issue is everyone’s responsibility. Telling people about your spearfishing adventures is a great segway to bring up this important topic.
We hope this list of 10 unexpected benefits of learning how to spearfish has given you a desire to get started (or do it more often).
Ask any experienced spearo and they will probably list a dozen more reasons why spearfishing is unbeatable.
Next, read these 10 fascinating facts about the history of spearfishing.