Remembering Hans Hass

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220px-Hans_Hass

Austrian undersea, zoologist, explorer and writer Hans Hass has died at the age of 94.  His expeditions, books and films were part of the pioneering 20th-century efforts to unlock the secrets of the deep.

Sharks were his great passion. Hass consistently campaigned for sharks, seeking to abolish their stigma as mindless man-eaters. He released films including "People among sharks," and books like "Among the corals and the sharks " in an effort to improve the image of sharks. Hass was later nicknamed "The Lord of the Sharks" for his efforts.

He made the first working underwater camera, developed dive fins and used oxygen rebreathers.      "I wanted to move like a fish among the fishes," he often said.

His first book, Hunting underwater with a harpoon and a camera, was published when he was just 20. His first underwater film, Pirsch unter Wasser (Stalking under Water), was released  in 1940 and was followed by Menschen unter Haien (Men among Sharks) in 1942. His 1951 film, Adventure in the Red Sea, was one of the first post-war films to bring the underwater world to the general public. In all, Hass published 32 books and produced 73 films during his career. His books funded his expeditions and his films brought the underwater world into movie theaters and living rooms.

Hass’s career took him all over the world, with sharks his great underwater love. He stopped diving several decades ago, but continued to give presentations on sharks and marine life, and was recently the honored guest at Beneath the Sea. Throughout his life Hass campaigned for marine life and, always, for sharks.

Hass' legacy will live on with all divers who shared his amazing adventures through his books, films and public presentations. Those of us who were fortunate enough to have the privilege of knowing Hans celebrate his life and memory.