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Dive industry mourns Stan Waterman


Stan Waterman

The global dive industry is mourning the loss of one of the most-influential and world-renowned divers on the planet, Stan Waterman, who died yesterday at the grand age of 100.

The five-time Emmy-winning cinematographer and underwater film producer was a true pioneer in the world of diving, and his legacy will live on for many years to come.

Born on 5 April 1923, Stanton A Waterman began his pioneering underwater exploits at an early age – he first obtained a hand-made Japanese Ama diving mask in 1934, long before they were being made in the West or in common circulation, and used it in the waters off Palm Beach in Florida as an impressionable 11 year old. He was hooked from that moment on the underwater world.

Returning from service in the US Navy in World War Two, he became the first resident of Maine to purchase an ‘aqualung', further advancing his underwater exploration abilities as he retrieved scallop drags and moorings, unfouled propellers and once even searched for and recovered a half dozen expensive rifles that had been lost when hunters capsized their canoe.

Stan Waterman
The man, the myth, the legend – Stan Waterman

His first foray into diving as a career came when he owned and operated a diving charter business in the Bahamas between 1954-1958, using a converted lobster boat called Zingara as the world's first diving liveaboard, but his major breakthrough came after he taught himself the art of motion picture photography and began producing some of diving's earliest films.

He toured around the US personally narrating his first documentary, Water World, in 1954, and then in 1959, participated in the first underwater archaeological expedition to Asia Minor, where he filmed a Bronze Age shipwreck, producing the hit documentary 3,000 Years Under the Sea.

His third production, Man Looks to the Sea, was released in 1963 and won numerous global awards, prompting him to embark on an epic year-long family vacation in Tahiti that he filmed – and subsequently sold to National Geographic, who showed it on television.

Just a few years later came the seminal Blue Water, White Death, which in 1971 marked the first cinematic filming of a great white shark and was the documentary that firmly put Waterman on the map. Two years in the making, Blue Water, White Death also featured divers – Waterman and his fellow film-makers Peter Gimbel, and Ron and Valerie Taylor – swimming with pelagic sharks outside of cages for the first time.

He was co-underwater director with Al Giddings on the iconic movie The Deep in 1977, and was also heavily involved with Jaws of Death, also in 1977.

Discovery Channel produced a biographical special, The Man Who Loves Sharks, focused on Waterman and his exploits.

Waterman also kept things in the family – working with his son, he won the first father-and-son Emmy for the National Geographic Explorer production Dancing With Stingrays.

In 2005, Waterman wrote Sea Salt: Memories and Essays, with forewords by Peter Benchley and Howard Hall.

Waterman carried on diving until he was in his twilight years – he took his last dive in the Cayman Islands at the ripe old age of 90.

He passed away aged 100 yesterday (Thursday 10 August).

Photo credit: Stan Waterman / Facebook

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Peter Vassilopoulos
Peter Vassilopoulos
8 months ago

I enjoyed linking up with Stan on quite a few occasions. Mostly at DEMA. But the last time I got together with Stan was when he came to Vancouver on a get together with Peter Benchley and Pauline Heaton. We discussed quite a lot about our mutual interests and experiences in scuba diving.

7 months ago

My mom bought be some National Geographic VHS tapes in the mid 90’s that were about sharks. One was the documentary about Stan called “The man Who Loves Sharks”. I put off watching it for a few years but when I was about 11 or 12 I finally watched it. I was drawn to Stan’s romantic sense of adventure, his wonderful use of English and his distinguished voice. What a remarkable life he lived.


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Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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