Spearfishing Whitsundays: 5 Tips to Improve Your Safety
Spearfishing Whitsundays: 5 ways to improve your safety when spearfishing in the Whitsunday Islands


The Whitsundays is a great place to dive and spear fish with 100’s of spearo’s heading out onto the water each week to catch a feed. Spearfishing is fun, exciting and hugely rewarding, but also can be a high risk. As Airlie beach’s freediving school, the safety of breath holding sports is at the heart of what we do and as the sport of spearfishing grows, we are passionate about keeping people safe. We have put together top 5 tips to improve your safety, out on the water.


Always dive with and close to your buddy

This has to be the oldest rule in the book, but probably the most broken one! When we dive, it is essential that we always have someone there watching over us to ensure that if the worst were to happen, our life can be saved. It sounds dramatic, but that is the truth. Every year we lose multiple spearfishers because they break this very simple rule. Whether you are experienced or a newbie, don’t take the risk. Diving with a buddy doesn’t just mean you and a mate on the same trip but you’re 100 metres apart in the water, it means constant supervision of each other at all times. 

Spearfishing Whitsundays Islands

Don’t overweight yourself

Although having lots of weights on your belt might feel comfortable when under the water, you’re actually putting yourself in danger of over exertion and black out. Why? Because simply put, if you are having to kick at the surface to talk to your mate, you’re not resting properly and using a lot of energy to keep your head above water. This energy loss is HUGE and will directly impact your dives as you spend a lot more time on top of the water than under.

You also need to be mindful that what comes down, must come up and at the later part of your dives, is not the point where you want to be struggling to get back to the surface.  Lastly, If you black out, the first thing you will do is exhale, which will only send you cannonballing into the deep blue. 

To weight yourself properly, exhale at the surface and float around eye level. If you are in depths between 5m-8m, try to find the neutral buoyancy at 5m so you are not crashing into the ocean floor. 


Use a dive flag and float

Boat traffic is high around the Whitsundays and often personal and bare boats are driven by people with not much experience. Especially not enough to see a group of spearo’s in the water. By using a dive flag both on your boat and on your float, will improve your visibility to boats around you and your dive buddies. It’s also another step you can take to ensure you don’t lose your gun if a fish takes off and you can free swim to the surface!


Be aware of local water conditions

The best way to be safe is to be prepared and know what to expect on your day out on the water. Although we are lucky with the Whitsundays and having so many Islands to hide behind in rough weather, having a plan of action and knowing your weather could save you from an unsafe situation.

By checking tides, you can assess how the current might be at the time you are wanting to dive, meaning you might adapt your dive times to ensure you keep safe and away from exertion. By checking the strength and direction of the wind, you can decide where the best dive site to go to and how best to get there.

You can also check the weather predictions for heavy rain, especially in the wet season. Heavy rain can mean white outs and can seriously reduce the surface visibility for your lookout on the boat and each other in the water. You can check the weather predictions on various weather applications and websites, like the Bureau of Meteorology

Spearfishing Whitsundays Girl

Properly rest between each dive

When we dive, our body uses our oxygen supply and creates C02, which gives us the urge to breathe. When we come up from a dive, we expel this C02 and start to replenish our Oxygen, however we need to allow the body adequate time to do this otherwise we are in danger of pushing our limits without knowing  and potentially diving to the point of black out.

You will tire much quicker and end up with progressively shorter dive times, which means less fish and shorter days. The rule of thumb is 3 times your breath hold time. So if you dive for 1 minute, you rest for 3. Allowing the body to fully replenish itself and leaving you ready to go again!

There you go! That’s our top tips for improving safety for spearfishing Whitsundays. There is a heaps more to learn and all of this information plus many more tips on safety and performance in the water are covered in greater detail in our Freediving Course. You will make huge jumps in your diving performance and your safety and by far the most common feedback we get from spearos is that they wish they had done the course earlier given how much their performances improved, after the course. 

If you want to find out more about our courses and available dates, you can check our online calendar or give us a message here.

Lastly, don’t forget to check the spearfishing Whitsundays Zones that are available for you to spear in. You can access zoning maps on your smartphone or tablet by downloading the free Eye on the Reef app or pick up a copy at your local bait and tackle shops or Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Whitsundays has protected areas so it’s important to not go into those areas and disturb the wildlife and you can also receive a huge fine! 

Look after yourself and each other, and we will see you out on the water soon!

Freediving Instructor Trainer Matt

Matt Turnbull


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