Is Spearfishing Dangerous? [How Can It Be Done Safely?]

Is Spearfishing Dangerous

Spearfishing is an adventurous activity, but with adventure often comes danger. Inexperienced spearos frequently underestimate this sport.

Every activity, like riding a bike or ice skating, can be dangerous if you are irresponsible or don’t take safety precautions seriously.

Is spearfishing dangerous depends on a lot of factors. Your experience, fitness level, weather conditions, locations, equipment used, and marine species in the area. There are always certain risk factors involved, but with proper preparation, you can minimize them and make this activity safer for you and those around you.

This does not mean that you should not do it, it simply means that you have to be prepared and know what to look out for.

Always be aware of your surroundings and know your limits. It is better to give up if you don’t feel like everything is going well than to have an accident.

Here I will tell you more about dangers of spearfishing and give you some tips about how to stay safe.



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Is Spearfishing Dangerous? [and WHY?]

To understand is it dangerous and why, you have to know what are the dangers of spearfishing. I will list the most common dangers in the next chapter.

Here I want to tell you about human factor. Majority of spearfishing accidents happen because spearos make a mistake, or a series of mistakes. You know that popular TV show about aircraft accidents where you see how a series of mistakes can lead to a disaster? Well, the same thing can easily happen to you.

Maybe you ignore the weather forecast because this is your only day off and you really want to enjoy some spearfishing. Then you arrive to a destination and see that your fin is slightly broken. But hey, you are there already, you will just do a dive or two. Then you enter the water and realize that the waves are a bit tougher than you are used to… And the list goes on. Instead of ignoring all that an getting hurt, acceppt the fact that it is not your day today.

Keep an eye on these things. Series of such events can affect even the most experienced spearos. Don’t ignore warnings about weather conditions, sharks in the area, or similar dangers that are known to be there.

By obeying all the safety and common-sense rules, you can minimize the human error factor. But, some things are harder to avoid, and those are listed below.


What are the Dangers of Spearfishing?

Even the most prepared spearos can find themselves in a dangerous situation which can’t be predicted. You know it is a possibility, but you can’t exactly expect it.

Now you know is spearfishing dangerous and here are the most common dangers of spearfishing:

#1: Tangling and drowning

This may sound funny, but you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to get tangled into your spear line. You miss your shot, there is no fish at the end of it, and currents and waves can make a mess out of your line. If you get caught in it, there is a chance that it ends up tragically. Having a knife would be wise.

#2: Currents and waves

Sea currents can often be stronger than they seem. Unlike rivers that often look fast, sea will look perfectly calm. Currents can draw you out in the open and getting back to safety of the shore or a boat can be hard. You will start losing energy and panic a bit and that is a recipe for disaster. Always stay calm, try to breathe normally, and think before you act. Another danger are waves. Rough waves can throw you onto sharp rocks when trying to exit the water.

#3: Sharks

In some areas, sharks can be expected, and dragging a dead and bloody fish around is not the best idea. However, sometimes they can appear unexpectedly in areas where they are not usually present. This is one of the biggest problems and I will give you more details later on.

Is Spearfishing Dangerous - Sharks

#4: Poisonous creatures

Numerous creatures live in waters around the world, and the most dangerous ones are often small. From jellyfish to poisonous fish, there are many species to avoid. If you are planning spearfishing in unknown waters, learn about local species and know what to avoid. Sometimes, people can have allergic reactions to jellyfish and fish species that are not lethal. Take care of yourself and never go alone anywhere, especially in such areas.

#5: Health related issues

If you suffer from any condition that can cause sudden attacks or any kind of episodes in which you have no control over your body, spearfishg may not be the best hobby for you. I definitely advise you to consult with a doctor. But, even completely healthy people can suffer heart attacks or strokes suddenly, when exposed to hard physical work.

#6: Shallow water blackout

Shallow water blackout can be described as hypoxia, and it is a very dangerous occurrence. There are two main ways in which it can occur. First one is free dive and shallow water blackout where all phases of dive happen in shallow water and there is no depressurization. Hyperventilation before a dive can increase it. Second option is ascent blackout. It happens because lack of oxygen in the end stage of a deep dive, where you are almost back at the surface, or even after you dive out. Both are characterized with loss of consciousness and high risk of drowning. Having a friend with you can save your life. Besides, it is more fun to spearfish with friends.

#7: Soft tissue damage

Pressure under water changes rapidly and you have to equalize it (but nor forcefully) during your dives. Diving out suddenly can cause ear drum damage. If you had a sinus infection recently, avoid diving until you are completely healed, otherwise you are increasing your chances of soft tissue barotrauma.

#8: Boats

Boat traffic is a big danger, and unfortunately, you can`t influence the way someone is driving their boat. But what you can do is to mark your position with a buoy. Stay close to it, and before diving out, look up and listen carefully. You can hear boats under water. Try to avoid high traffic areas full of recreational boater. Fishing in such places is also bad as all the engine noise scares the fish.

Is Spearfishing Dangerous - Boats

How Could You Spearfish Safely?

Now you know exactly why is spearfishing so dangerous, and I already listed all the hazards, as well as some safety precautions you can do.

But, the most important thing, especially if you are a beginner, or you are going to spearfish in unfamiliar waters, is to have someone with you. If anything goes wrong, another person, or a group of them, can help you.

You can even have a friend out on a boat who is not diving with you. That person can monitor you and react in case of emergency.

Besides that, make sure that all your equipment works perfectly, from mask (always choose only the best spearfishing mask) and fins to speargun. When using a spear gun around other spearos be extremely careful not to hit them! Move to a safe distance, watch carefully, and be aware of their location at all times.

Mark your position with a buoy, learn about new locations you are going at, and hire a guide to be extra safe.

Keep your phone with a full battery in a dry and safe place on a boat or on the shore.

How Deep Can Spear Fishermen Dive?

You can dive as deep as you feel comfortable. Free diving and spearfishing have some similarities, but for a spearo, it is important to catch a fish, and you must be able to spend some time in a certain depth. If you dive to a deepest point you can like a competitive free diver, you will have to dive out immediately and that is not the point of it.

Healthy and well trained spearos can dive to great depths and hold their breath for minutes. Beginners, those with a bit weak fitness levels, smokers, or elderly people often have smaller lung capacity and can’t go too deep or dive for too long. But, it is not about depth. It is about technique, patience, coordination, and precision. You can catch a lot of fish in shallow waters.

Of course, if you can, you can dive deeper. Most often, spearos dive between 5 and 25 feet. Those that are a bit more capable can go to depths to about 50 to 60 feet. But there are individuals that can dive a lot deeper. Those are professionals and don’t try to do the same. It is the same difference as the one between recreational joggers and competitive marathon runners.

The deepest spearfishing dives I have heard about are around 200 ft! That is extreme…

Very well trained spearos that are highly capable almost never exceed 100 ft. All these high numbers are here only to show you what is possible for some, I’m not advising you to try it.

Great depths have certain appeal, and yes, you can encounter almost any fish there, and get access to places others can`t. But, it is not crucial for spearfishing.

Is Spearfishing Dangerous - Deep

Does Spearfishing Attract Sharks?

Does spearfishing attract sharks is a common question, and unfortunately, to a certain degree it does. Spearfishing will not attract sharks in places where they don’t naturally live. But, in areas that are known to be visited by sharks, dead fish and the scent of blood that goes with it can certainly attract them.

Not all sharks are life-threatening, but it is not a pleasant surprise when you see one. Some people start panicking and panic is a serious drowning risk. If you are unlucky, you will encounter a shark that presents a real danger and can injure you or even worse. Luckily those encounters that end up tragically are very rare.

If you are not ready for such encounters, I would advise you to spearfish in seas where it is safe. But, if you don’t have that option, and sharks exist in large numbers in your area, you can do a lot to protect yourself.

How to Avoid Sharks While Spearfishing? [and What to Do?]

So, how to avoid sharks while spearfishing? Here is a short list:

• Keep your catch away from you, preferably out of the water.
• Avoid spearfishing in waters where visibility is low and water murky, and sharks can sneak up on you without you even noticing.
• Although dawn and dusk, as well as cloudy weather, present excellent fishing conditions due to increased activity of fish, those are also times when sharks are active, so avoid those conditions.
• Observe water around you, even before you enter it, especially if the water is clear and you can see well.

And what to do if you see a shark spearfishing? How to react?

• Don’t try to keep your catch. If the shark tries stealing it, let the fish go.
Don’t panic or make unpredictable movement.
• Keep and eye on a shark and slowly move away facing the shark. Turning your back and hysterically swimming away will just make the shark to become even more interested.
• If the shark keeps coming too close, you can slightly poke it with a spear but don’t try to hit it with a spear! Most spears are not strong enough to kill a shark and you will just make the fish angry.
• If you see a lot of them coming close, it is time to get out. If one becomes aggressive, others will most likely follow.
• Be confident and stand your ground. They are just looking and testing you, don’t let them freak you out. You are in their territory, but they do not want to kill you.

Things To Remember When Spearfishing Goes Wrong!

Although shark attack spearfishing incidents are rare, there are a lot of other things that can go wrong, and sometimes, you can’t prevent it no matter how hard you try.

However, your reaction when spearfishing goes wrong can significantly change the outcome of that situation. Proper reaction saves lives.

Here are some tips:

• Stay calm, breathe properly, and think before you act.
• If you see someone in trouble, call for help and get that person out of the water.
• If you are feeling unwell, use your buoy or a float to stay on the surface and use it to go to your boat or the shore.
• Keep your strength and don’t swim hysterically.
• Call for help if something is happening to you and attract the attention of others who are near by. It can be verbally or physically signalling.
• If you or someone else has some visible injuries treat them and stop the bleeding until the help arrives.
• If someone gets hit with a spear DO NOT PULL THE SPEAR OUT. Just press the wound around it and wait for the professionals to take care of it.
• If you are feeling a bit weird but you can’t figure out what it is go to the doctor, it can be one of the signs of barotrauma.
• If you got bitten or burned by a suspicious fish or jellyfish seek for help immediately.

And that’s it! Learn first aid before you go spearfishing so that you can help others or yourself if necessary!

Do you want more? Here you can find more tips for spearfishing.

Is Spearfishing Dangerous - Keep Calm


Is spearfishing dangerous depends a lot about you. Majorities of incidents and accidents can be avoided if you are responsible and well prepared.

Unfortunately, some risks are always present, but in a way, that is the beauty and excitement in spearfishing. Learn about all the dangers and learn how to minimize them.

Spearfishing is a lot safer when done with others, so I would advise you to always have company, even if they are not diving with you. Don’t underestimate the power of nature!

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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