Diving Legend Hans Hass (1919-2013)


Tribute to Dr. Hans Hass

Hans Hass wearing face mask with snorkel

Hans Hass

Another pioneer of diving is gone. Hans Hass, one of the heroes of my childhood, passed away earlier this week. He was born January 23, 1919, and died June 16, 2013. The funeral took place on Saturday, 22 June at the Hietzing Cemetery in a private ceremony.

A pioneer not only of underwater photography and filming, but also of diving itself, Hans Hass took his first underwater photographs in 1938, using a home-made watertight housing. http://www.auas-nogi.org/bio_hass_hans.html

I only met him once and that was over 40 years ago. I was very impressed with him. We sat at the same table, most of us were drinking beer, I assume he was too. I mainly remember the stories he told and the genuine interest and encouragement he showed in my work, and that of others sitting with us. We had a great time.

He was a member of AUAS (the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences), and I had hoped to see him again when I receive the 2012-2013 NOGI award for science. He had won the same award in 1998.

He was an outstanding man and a leader who I and many others greatly respected. His passing is a loss not only to his family and the diving community but to the entire world.


Hass produced 4 popular films, about 70 television films and more than 25 books, including:
1939: Jagd unter Wasser mit Harpune und Kamera (Hunt under water with harpoon and camera)
1941: Unter Korallen und Haien (Among corals and sharks)
1942: Fotojagd am Meeresgrund (Photo-hunt at the sea-bottom)
1947: Drei Jäger auf dem Meeresgrund (Three hunters on the sea-bottom)
1949: Menschen und Haie (Humans and sharks)
1952: Manta, Teufel im Roten Meer (Manta, devil in the Red Sea): English version: Manta, Under the Red Sea with Spear and Camera, English translation by James Cleugh, 1952, Rand McNally & Co., Library of Congress Card Cat. No. 53-6152.
1954: Ich fotografierte in den 7 Meeren (I photographed in the 7 seas)
1957: Wir kommen aus dem Meer (We come from the sea)
1958: Fische und Korallen (Fish and corals)
1961: Expedition ins Unbekannte (Expedition into the unknown)
1968: Wir Menschen. Das Geheimnis unseres Verhaltens (We humans. The secret of our behavior)
1970: Energon: Das verborgene Geheimnis (Energon: The hidden secret)
1971: In unberührten Tiefe. Die Bezwingung der tropischen Meere. (In unaffected depth. Conquest of the tropical seas)
1972: Vorstoss in die Tiefe. Ein Magazin über Abenteuer bei der Erforschung der Meere. (Raid into the depth. A magazine over adventures with the study of the seas)
1973: Welt unter Wasser. Der abenteuerliche Vorstoss des Menschen ins Meer. (World under water. The adventurous raid of humans in the sea)
1976: Eroberung der Tiefe. Das Meer – seine Geheimnisse, seine Gefahren, seine Erforschung. (Conquest of the deeps. The sea – its secrets, its dangers, its research)
1976: Der Hans-Hass-Tauchführer. Das Mittelmeer. Ein Ratgeber für Sporttaucher und Schnorchler. (The Hans Hass dive guide. The Mediterranean. An adviser for sport divers and snorkellers.)
1977: Der Hai. Legende eines Mörders. (The shark. Legend of a killer)
1978: Die Schöpfung geht weiter. Station Mensch im Strom des Lebens. (The creation continues. Station of humans in the river of the life)
1979: Wie der Fisch zum Menschen wurde. Die faszinierende Entwicklungsgeschichte unseres Körpers. (How fish became humans. The fascinating history of the development of our body)
1980: Im Roten Meer. Wiederkehr nach 30 Jahren. (In the Red Sea. Return after 30 years)
1985: Stadt und Lebensqualität. (City and quality of life)
1986: Abenteuer unter Wasser. Meine Erlebnisse und Forschungen im Meer. (Adventure under water. My experiences and research in the sea)
1987: Der Ball und die Rose (The ball and the rose)
1988: Der Hai im Management. Instinkte steuern und kontrollieren. (The shark in the management. Instincts steer and control)
1991: Vorstoss in unbekannte Meere (Push into unknown seas)
1994: Die Hyperzeller. Das neue Menschenbild der Evolution. (The Hyper-cellars. The new human picture of evolution)
1996: Aus der Pionierzeit des Tauchens. In unberührte Tiefen. (From the pioneer time of diving. Into untouched depths)
2004: Erinnerungen und Abenteuer. (Memories and adventures)


First Prize of the Chancellor for the “best movie idea for an Austrian propaganda film” (1949)
Gold Medal of the Photographic Society in Vienna (1950)
Biennale Prize (1951)
The film “Adventures in the Red Sea” received the International Prize for feature-length documentaries for the 2nd Mostra Internazionale del Film Scientifico e del Documentario d’Arte in Venice (1951)
The TV series “Diving to Adventure” is from the BBC named “Program of the Year” (1955)
Outstanding Underwater Photographer of the Year of the Underwater Photographic Society (USA, International Underwater Film Festival 1959)
Oscar for extraordinary underwater photography for the film Unternehmen Xarifa (1959)
Honorary Member of the German Skindiving (1974)
Honorary title “Professor”, awarded by Science Minister Hertha Firnberg (1977)
Honorary Member of the European educational community – Verlag GmbH, Stuttgart (1978)
Science Medal of the City of Linz (1987)
IADS Lifetime Achievement Award (International Association of Diving Schools, 1989)
Golden Needle of the Association of German Sports Divers (VDST, 1994)
Honorary President “Sponsoring scuba diving.” (1994)
Reg Vallintine Achievement Award for Historical Diving (UK, 1994)
Reaching Out Award (Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, United States; 1997)
Diving Pioneer Trophy of the Historical Diving Society (USA, 1997)
Diving Pioneer Award of the Historical Diving Society (Italy, 1997)
Austrian Decoration for Science and Art (1997)* [6]
Two NOGI Awards for Science and Distinguished Service (USA, 1998)
Gold Medal of Honour of Vienna (1999)
Honorary President of the PEN Club Liechtenstein (1999)
Konrad Lorenz Award for Environmental Protection (1999)
Golden Medal of Honour of the Austrian Federal Guild of Photographers (1999)
DANUBIUS Donauland Sachbuchpreis (1999)
Goldenes Lot the Association of German surveyors (1999)
International Scuba Diving Hall of fame, 2000, [7]
Dieter Plage-Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding achievement in the field of nature films (2001)
Christopher Parsons Award for outstanding achievement in the field of nature films (2004)
Peace Prize for Biology of the “World Association of Private Schools and Universities for Complementary Healing Practices” (2005)
Cayman Islands International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame Award (2006)
Wyland ICON Award (2006)
Beneath the Sea Special Award (2006)
Pannatura Prize for achievements in the nature film (2006)
Schmitz-Salue Medal by the Friends of Aquazoo-Löbbecke Museum, Düsseldorf (2009)
Elisabeth Mann Borgese marine prize (Schleswig-Holstein, 2009)
DIVA – German Entertainment Price (2011)
Platinum Romy for lifetime achievement (2012)
A cone snail, found in the Philippines, was named after him (Protoconus hanshassi) (2012)

This tribute to environmentalist & pioneer diver, Dr. Hans Hass, by Dr. E. Lee Spence, incorporates information from an article on Dr. Hass in the German Wikipedia.

Add a Comment