Brooke Basse says she would live underwater if she could — that’s how much she loves the ocean.
The California native grew up surfing at the beach, but after a back injury, she turned to a different water sport: Spearfishing.
“I still wanted to get some adventure in the ocean,” Basse told In The Know. “I dive for work, and I had a bunch of friends who got me into [spearfishing], and I just became addicted.”
Over the last couple of decades, spearfishing has become a more popular competitive sport, especially while freediving. Divers swim several feet down towards the ocean floor wearing just a snorkel and carrying a speargun. There is no bait involved either, the diver must shoot at the fish they want when they are within range.
“It’s all breath-holding and freediving, so you’re not using any tanks or any forms of compressed air,” Basse said. “I’m full ADHD, but when I’m underwater, I’ve learned to be so patient.”
According to a New York Times article, most divers can hold their breath for one to two minutes and typically will undergo training regimens to build up their lung stamina. Divers must swim, find a fish, shoot the fish and then bring it up with them to the ocean’s surface before they run out of air.
It’s fast-paced, and the feeling can be addicting.
“Spearfishing is definitely a dangerous sport. There’s plenty of people that are advanced, advanced divers that have died. You can have shallow water blackouts, no matter how good of a diver you are — just depends on what your body physiology is doing that day. Even if you’re not pushing yourself that hard, you can get caught up in your shooting line, you can get caught up in kelp and if you don’t have a body near you that can’t help you out, a lot of times, guys die by themselves.”
In addition to those safety concerns, predators like sharks, sea lions and black sea bass are also around to remind divers they are not at the top of the food chain. Even without all these threats, the possibility of not catching any fish also makes spearfishing such an extreme length to get food.
But overall, Basse loves her daily adventures.
“There’s a little bit of a stigma with spearfishing,” Basse said. “People that don’t really know that much about it think it’s inhumane. But it’s probably one of the most sustainable ways to acquire your own fish. You’re not using a hook and line where the fish is dying slowly. With commercial fishing, they get all this excess marine life in the nets, and in spearfishing, you don’t get that. You’re hunting for it.”
Watch the full In The Know: Extreme Lengths episode above to learn more about Brooke Basse and her spearfishing career.
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