PDN Photo of the Day

Free Dive Hunters (10 Photos)

Free Dive Hunters (10 Photos)

All photos © Eyeconic Images.

Spearfishing is a type of hunting done with underwater guns, harpoons and strong line. Freediving is a type of breath-hold diving in which divers descend for the duration of one breath, without SCUBA tanks or any breathing apparatus. The best freedivers can hold their breath for over five minutes and go deeper than 100 feet. The combination of both these skills makes a high adrenaline sport done by only a few brave souls. All of the images made were also on breath-hold dives – no SCUBA.

Eyeconic Images is the partnership of DJ Struntz and Logan Mock-Bunting, two photographers with a passion for story-telling, image-making and the ocean. Their photographs have appeared in National Geographic, Outside Magazine, Time Magazine, Newsweek, New York Times Magazine, Surfing, Smithsonian Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Mclean’s, and Men’s Health.

 Captain Lindsey Shuford watches as Kenneth Kelly and Kelsey Albert prepare their spearfishing gear, including guns, spears, tips and lines before freediving off the coast of North Carolina.

 Ashley Futral descends for a final dive as dusk falls and the moon rises over the ocean near Wrightsville Beach, NC.

 Kelsey Albert “brains” a hogfish after spearing it while freediving and spearfishing, as a bait-ball of smaller fish sweep in, looking for leftover scraps of meat. Often after a fish is shot and captured, the hunter will stab it in the head to make sure the animal is dead.

 DJ Struntz wrestles a large Grouper he shot into a waiting boat. Groupers are a skittish fish,  dwelling on the bottom of the sea-floor, so divers must descend deep and stalk them slowly.

 Ren Chapman prepares for a dive with a loaded and ready speargun while another diver rests, holding onto a dive-line to stay in position against the current.

Kenneth Kelly “brains” a barracuda after spearing it while freediving and spearfishing off the coast of North Carolina. He was competing in a spearfishing tournament when this catch was made.

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  1. @sad, Are you crazy? its not like their just killing shit cause they can. There finding pray, and taking on the challenge of killing it. Its an art when its not just egregious, because its not just the fish in danger when their that large.

  2. Its not that inhumane…if they hadn’t been speared they probably would have been killed and eaten later. Its more humane then raising an animal for slaughter, and I’m sure they didn’t waste their catches. Plus their fish, so don’t be such a pussy about it. This actually looks pretty awesome I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot

  3. If they eat it, good for them. That’s nature. If they kill just for points and toss the fish over board, that just cruelty and selfishness. What I’ve read, these divers do the first. At least the divers challenge themselves by free-diving. They’re not like idiots with high-powered rifles, hiding in camouflage, shooting dumb animals at a distance, and saying “it’s challenging”. Imagine a sniper shooting at retarded school children and calling it challenging.

    As for people like Aj, to claim spearfishing (or any hunting) is an “art”?! How absurd.

  4. Anyone saying that this isn’t a challenge or art are are extremely naive. Evidently you people don’t hunt or fish because while you may think that it is like shooting fish in a barrel, you are sadly mistaken. It is called hunting and fishing because it is a challenge, hunters and fisherman don’t just show up and kill/catch, for every great hunting or fishing trip there are 4 bad ones. It takes a great deal of preparation, concentration, and skill to be a prestigious sportsman. I can’t bet that these people saying there is no art to this or it is humane, first off don’t hunt/fish and probably have never put as much dedication into anything as many of us put into our “inhumane” hobbies. Also, hunters and fisherman as a whole put more money and conservation back toward the continuation of the species we harvest than any other organization. Being a sportsman is a form of art and anyone thinking otherwise is sadly mistaken and I feel sorry that they will never enjoy the thrill, excitement, and ambition of the sport.

  5. Great pictures!! Specially the fourth one, how poetic.

    The way I see, though I don’t see anything bad on it (and though I don’t kill animals nor have them killed for me, but that’s only my choice) I don’t see hunting as an art.
    Hunting is, originally, a means of survival, wich can involve, of course, a high level of technic and knowledge. But filling your stomach (or your sons’) ia not a form or art.

    And calling it a sport… yeah, it may feet better… but “sport” refers to a competition against another human being. So killing an animal for prove another human than I’m better/faster/stronger than him… that’s very sad.

    If it just for getting food toyour table, I would just call it hunting. It has its onw “category”, and nothing to do with arts or sports.

  6. hmm don’t think my last comment got submitted…

    my question was: is photo 4 shot with a fish-eye-lense or some other technique? or are them underwater plants really that big?? It all looks a bit surreal to me at the moment.

  7. Great sport (dripping sarcasm), big barracudas hang out on the wrecks off the NC coast, are curious and follow divers around like puppies. Spearing one is like shooting fish in a bucket. Dive a wreck after these jerks have been on it and you’re lucky to see a big fish.

  8. What the hell is wrong with you people? The hypocrisy is disgusting to me. The next time you idiots are stuffing a cheeseburger in your gullet or enjoying fish sticks try to imagine the factory slaughter conditions that produced that meat. We (especially in western culture) are so far removed from our food sources we have the audacity to pass judgement on the folks who keep the traditions of hunting and fishing alive. Skills and traditions that sustained our species for thousands of years. How dare you condemn these hunters for “killing” a couple of fish…..If you are not willing to put a spear in a fish then you don’t deserve the right to eat one.

  9. Memo to “Aj”: What you’re doing to the English language is far more brutal than anything these divers could inflict on a fish. In just four sentences, you managed to commit eight – that’s right, eight – errors that anyone with a third-grade education would know to avoid. Instead of “they’re” (that’s a contraction of “they are,” by the way), you wrote “their” (twice) and “there” (once). Instead of “it’s” (a contraction of “it is”), you wrote “its” (which in fact is a possessive meaning “belonging to it”) – FOUR times. You also mistook “pray” for “prey.” (And I’m not even including your use of “cause” for “because”; normally that contraction is written “‘cos” or “’cause.”)

    I don’t know if you’re lazy or simply ignorant, but either way, I can’t take a word that you wrote seriously. Good writing isn’t only about content; it’s also about form.

  10. half of me is amazed by the photographical talent in about half the shots but the other half is just horrified that pictures of bloody fish being stabbed with a knife throught the forhead could even be considerd good… its probably one of the most discusting things ive ever seen..

  11. Spear fishing and free diving are quite easy, calling it art is like comparing Madonna to Picasso. You want to see real challenge and art, try cave diving, that’s a beautiful and challenging sport. Incomparable to swimming in fish guts with an infinite air supply over your head.

  12. I think they are a bounch of killers…. im looking for the ART over here,…. and i can not find…..
    Imagine Big fishes hunting aour childrens…. in a park…. That will be a magic picture….


  13. Like all other hunters, there is no heroic act in spearing harmless fishes. They hurt fantastic creatures of the sea, for what???

  14. You guys are idiots. Why go around arguing online about crap that doesn’t matter. No opinions shared on this website matter at all to anyone and only stir up a bunch of stuff for everyone who reads. Who gives a rats ass whether you want to title it inhumane, or an art form. We may be free to speak but I’m not going to waste that freedom and my words arguing over what has been said. Good job, you all use words and have opinions, so do 10 year olds. When will humanity grow past puberty? (and yes I realize everything I said applies to me, call it an example.)

    All that wasted breath aside, it is astounding that they are capable of controlling their bodies and minds well enough to take part in this activity.

  15. You people offended by this are fucking retarded. I’m sure they ate the fish, or sold them to someone else who ate them. I highly doubt they killed the fish “just because.” What they did is far more humane than what a slaughter house does to get you those Big Macs you shove down your fucking throat without a thought about how the meat got there, you fat armchair activist fuck. Also, this is not an art. Hunting is not art.

  16. Just to clarify, not as a pro or anti hunter, but as a scientist. Spear fishing is actually the most sustainable form of fishing in the ocean. It allows for the fisherman to accurately identify large fish (who have reached beyond the reproductive age) and a specific species. There is no bycatch and the fish die near instantly. Which is something to say about where we get our fish from the supermarket which are netted by the millions of tons suffocating to death, or dying from barotrauma (that is when their swim bladder gets so expanded it comes out of their mouth and their guts extrude from their “behind”– that seems humane to me?). Commercial fishing also impacts so many other forms of wildlife with so much bycatch of dolphins, turtles, sharks, rays, unwanted fish that are thrown back into the ocean dead. Bycatch is not alive when it is tossed into the ocean. So regardless of criticizing whether hunting is humane or not, just think that spear fishing is legitimately the best type of fishing for this world.

    it sounds like more people here should learn where their food comes from. if you are a vegetarian great, thats amazing. But you cannot expect the rest of the world to be.

  17. Nice photos and amazing diving. You guys are awesome. I hope one day I can have comparable photos. I love the water and we have to eat somehow, and @MarineBio Thanks for hitting everyone with some facts. I’m a marine bio major as well so much appreciated.

  18. Welcome to the food chain. Little fish eat plankton and vegetation. Big fish eat little fish. We eat big fish. It’s been this way for thousands of years. If you’re so concerned about how we treat the environment, and other species, become an environmentalist; if not, please stop complaining.

  19. Anyone who enters the food chain to selectively hunt individual fish is playing fair. Good on ya, free divers/spear fisherman.

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