Spearfishing Dangers

Welcome to Spearfishing School Part 5 of our 80+ part series written for people new to spearfishing. This blog is free for my readers and so is access to Spearfishing School during the beta stage. If you learn something here, sign up for our email list and share this page with someone that is looking to learn about spearfishing. It is a free way to say thanks.

Don’t kid yourself. Spearfishing is dangerous. I am not trying to discourage you. I just want you to be aware of the dangers and what we can do to decrease our chances of injury.

Water Entry and Exit

People have died entering and exiting the ocean from shore. It is important to be aware of your dive location and find a safe point of entry AND exit. If the swell is too big, just dive another day. If it looks questionable, also dive another day. Dealing with high surf after a dive when you are tired is no good. You could get bashed against some rocks, hurt yourself with your spear, or get a cramp and drown.

Current and Surge

Rip currents can suck you out into the ocean. Talk with lifeguards or experienced divers to learn about your local dive spots. Learn where these currents are and under what conditions they form. In San Diego we have the San Diego Council of Divers doing a great job of educating people with their Rocks, Rips, and Reefs program. The 3Rs program is free and open to the public.

On days with a strong surge be especially aware of your direction and any obstacles and overhangs. At depth the surge can sweep you across the 20, 50 feet or more in a few seconds. If you are not paying attention you could crash against a rock or reef. Another danger would be to get pushed under an overhang and not realize there is no direct way up until you want to surface. Since we are on the subject NEVER do a swim through or enter wrecks or caves. The risk of getting stuck is just not worth it.

Permanent Ear Damage

Ear pressure equalization is so important because it can cause irreversible hearing loss and vertigo. Imagine always having a hissing sound in your ear, feeling off balanced or not being able to hear the full range of frequencies you are used to. Yes, that is what can happen if you ignore the pain in your ears and keep diving deeper. While diving, if you start to feel pain, STOP your descent, come back up and try again after a few minutes. If you are still not able to clear, just work in the shallows and try clearing on another day.


Drowning is a very real danger. Getting tangled on the bottom, having a shallow water blackout, getting knocked out by a boat or by bumping your head against a rock the surge pushed you into. I could go on but you get the picture. With training, awareness, and a watchful dive buddy we reduce the risks. Respect your and more importantly your dive partners limits.

Accidental Spearing

At this point everyone has seen that photo of that poor bastard that got accidently speared right through the butt cheek by his friend. Although painful, he was lucky the spear didn’t hit any vital organs. Follow the Spearfishing Rules and never point a speargun towards anyone. Even if the speargun is unloaded practice good muzzle awareness and discipline.

Boating Traffic

Whenever I’m not diving in the kelp I dive with a float and flag to make boaters aware of my presence. It’s a sad fact but a lot of boaters don’t know what the red and white dive flag means. You are better off not diving around boat traffic areas.

Shallow Water Blackout

I could spend a lot of time describing what SWB is and not do as good of a job as http://shallowwaterblackoutprevention.org/

Take some time to visit this site and read about Shallow Water Blackouts.


Although sharks are not out to get you, if you are swimming around with a bunch of bloody fish on your stringer don’t be surprised if they come check you out. String up your fish on a float and get them out of the water as soon as possible. I dive with a Shark Shield Freedom 7 shark deterrent system and haven’t had any issues with sharks. In areas like La Jolla, California, some SCUBA dive tour outfits feed the sharks to bring them close in for photos/videos. As a result the sharks are becoming less afraid of humans. I’ve heard a lot of stories of guys shooting fish and the sharks being on them in under a minute. Some argue that sharks have learned to associate the sound of a speargun with an easy meal.

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Freediving, Spearfishing, and the related topics discussed here are inherently dangerous. Participating in any freediving activity exposes one-self to the risk of death and/or permanent injury. The content of this site is provided as personal entertainment only. Although portions of the content may be perceived as instructional, do not depend upon it as such. The following article is not intended as a replacement for proper training in any water sport activity. There are no warranties or guarantees, either expressed or implied that the information contained at this site is accurate, correct or reliable. You are responsible for using your own good judgment. We urge you to seek proper instruction from a qualified and certified agency before attempting any sport requiring breath hold freediving.