Hans Hass

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Hans Hass
Hans Hass.jpg
Born(1919-01-23)23 January 1919
Died16 June 2013(2013-06-16) (aged 94)
Occupation Underwater diver, Documentary filmmaker

Hans Hass (23 January 1919 – 16 June 2013) was an Austrian biologist and underwater diving pioneer. He was known mainly for being among the first scientists to popularise coral reefs, stingrays and sharks. He pioneered the making of documentaries filmed underwater. He led development of a type of rebreather.[ citation needed ] He is known, too, for his energon theory [1] and his commitment to protecting the environment. [2] [3]

Underwater diving Descending below the surface of the water to interact with the environment

Underwater diving, as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment. Immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure have physiological effects that limit the depths and duration possible in ambient pressure diving. Humans are not physiologically and anatomically well adapted to the environmental conditions of diving, and various equipment has been developed to extend the depth and duration of human dives, and allow different types of work to be done.

Rebreather Apparatus to recycle breathing gas

A rebreather is a breathing apparatus that absorbs the carbon dioxide of a user's exhaled breath to permit the rebreathing (recycling) of the substantially unused oxygen content, and unused inert content when present, of each breath. Oxygen is added to replenish the amount metabolised by the user. This differs from an open-circuit breathing apparatus, where the exhaled gas is discharged directly into the environment.


Early years

Hass was born in Vienna; his father was an attorney and Hass initially pursued law. However, Hass had a formative encounter with the American diver Guy Gilpatric while on a Riviera holiday in 1938 [3] which included underwater hunting and photography. After making expeditions to the Caribbean Sea 1938-39 and writing his first professional articles, in 1940 Hass switched from reading law to zoology studies and graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Berlin in 1943 at the Faculty of Biology. His thesis was the first scientific research using an autonomous rebreather diving equipment. In his early diving he used rebreathers, which he had made for him by the German diving gear makers Dräger: he had these sets made with the breathing bag on his back, as he did not like the bag-on-chest "frogman look". Hass and his team of researchers logged over 2000 dives utilising oxygen rebreathers from 1942 to 1953. [4]

John Guy Gilpatric was an American pilot, flight instructor, journalist, short-story writer and novelist, best known for his Mr. Glencannon stories.

French Riviera Riviera

The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. There is no official boundary, but it is usually considered to extend from Cassis or Toulon on the west to the France–Italy border in the east, where the Italian Riviera joins. The coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) region of France. The principality of Monaco is a semi-enclave within the region, surrounded on three sides by France and fronting the Mediterranean.

Caribbean Sea A sea of the Atlantic Ocean bounded by North, Central, and South America

The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.

Although, in a book by Callum Roberts, Don Stewart, one of the first scuba operators on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, blames Hass for single-handedly hunting the Atlantic goliath grouper to local extinction, [5] the author clearly refutes that claim later in the same paragraph.

Callum Roberts marine conservation biologist, oceanographer, author and research scholar

Callum Michael Roberts is a marine conservation biologist, oceanographer, author, research scholar at the University of York, England.

Bonaire Special municipality of the Netherlands

Bonaire is an island in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Its capital is Kralendijk, located near the ocean on the lee side of the island. Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao form the ABC islands located less than one hundred miles northwest of Venezuela. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, the ABC islands lie outside Hurricane Alley. The islands have an arid climate that attracts visitors seeking warm, sunny weather year round. Bonaire is a popular snorkeling and scuba diving destination because of its multiple shore diving sites and easy access to the island's fringing reefs.

Atlantic goliath grouper species of fish

The Atlantic goliath grouper or itajara, also known as "jewfish", is a large saltwater fish of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m. Its range includes the Florida Keys in the US, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean and most of the Brazilian coast. On some occasions, it is caught off the coasts of the US states of New England off Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from the Congo to Senegal.

Wartime period

Hass published "Diving to Adventure," his first book of underwater photographs, in 1939, and some credit him with developing one of the first underwater cameras. Hass completed his first underwater video called Pirsch unter Wasser (Stalking under Water) in 1940. It was published by the Universum Film AG, lasted originally only 16 minutes and was shown in cinemas before the main film, but would eventually be extended by additional filming done in the Adriatic Sea close to Dubrovnik. [6]

Underwater videography The branch of electronic underwater photography concerned with capturing moving images

Underwater videography is the branch of electronic underwater photography concerned with capturing underwater moving images as a recreational diving, scientific, commercial, documentary, or filmmaking activity.

Adriatic Sea Body of water between the Italian Peninsula and the Balkan Peninsula

The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto to the northwest and the Po Valley. The countries with coasts on the Adriatic are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia. The Adriatic contains over 1,300 islands, mostly located along its eastern, Croatian coast. It is divided into three basins, the northern being the shallowest and the southern being the deepest, with a maximum depth of 1,233 metres (4,045 ft). The Otranto Sill, an underwater ridge, is located at the border between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The prevailing currents flow counterclockwise from the Strait of Otranto, along the eastern coast and back to the strait along the western (Italian) coast. Tidal movements in the Adriatic are slight, although larger amplitudes are known to occur occasionally. The Adriatic's salinity is lower than the Mediterranean's because the Adriatic collects a third of the fresh water flowing into the Mediterranean, acting as a dilution basin. The surface water temperatures generally range from 30 °C (86 °F) in summer to 12 °C (54 °F) in winter, significantly moderating the Adriatic Basin's climate.

Dubrovnik City in Dubrovnik-Neretva, Croatia

Dubrovnik is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, a seaport and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. Its total population is 42,615. In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.

Hass moved from Vienna to Berlin in 1941, where he founded the tax privileged society Expedition für biologische Meereskunde (Expedition for biological oceanography).

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,723,914 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which is, with 6,004,857 (2015) inhabitants and an area of 30,370 square km, Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Hass was excused from serving in the German military during the Second World War because of poor circulation in his feet caused by Raynaud's disease. [7]

On the proceeds of his hundreds of lectures, Hass was able to buy in 1942 the sailing ship Seeteufel. But he was not able to use the ship for his planned expedition because the ship was in the harbour of Stettin and it was not possible to bring it during the war to the Mediterranean Sea. [8]

Hass rented therefore in 1942 a ship in Piraeus and sailed for several months in the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Crete. Before the war this ship had been owned by the University of Vienna. During this expedition he took film and photos underwater. Hass had read the book Die Raubfischer in Hellas (The Pirate Fishers in Greece) written in 1939 by Werner Helwig. Hass found this group near Skiathos and was able to film their dynamite fishing under water.

In spring and summer 1943 Hass stayed for several months at the Stazione Zoologica in Naples and Capri to study and collect Bryozoa, aquatic invertebrate animals, for his doctoral thesis in zoology. In February 1944 he completed the thesis, to become a Doctor of Science.

Until the end of the war Hass lived and worked in the film studios of Universum Film AG in Babelsberg near Berlin to cut and finish his film about the expedition in the Aegean Sea. This 84 minute underwater film, Menschen unter Haien (Men among Sharks), was released in 1947. It shows marine life including wrasse, jellyfish, sponges, sea anemones and rays. Highlights are the dynamite fishing and interaction of divers with sharks. [6]

In Babelsberg he met Hannelore Schroth, a famous German actress. Hans and Hannelore married in 1945.

Post war activity and fame

In 1945 the Seeteufel was lost when the Soviets captured Königsberg. [8] In 1947 his film Menschen unter Haien had its world premiere in Zurich, and his most popular book with a very similar title was released in 1948. As a consequence, he got contracts with Herzog-Film (Munich) and Sascha-Film (Vienna). He also went on his first "Xarifa" expeditions. The new research ship, named 'Xarifa', was mostly financed through photo safaris in the Red Sea and by the BBC.

Hass's marriage to Hannelore Schroth produced a son, Hans Hass, Jr. The marriage ended in 1950. He married his second wife, Lotte Baierl, the same year.

Hass produced 105 commercial films, many featuring himself and his second wife, who was an expert diver. In 1951, Hass's film Under the Red Sea was awarded first prize at the Venice Film Festival.[ citation needed ]

After expeditions in East Africa and South Asia his first TV series were developed in 1959, in 1961 for the first time about creatures outside the water. This was followed by behavioural research and the 'energon theory' from 1963 to 1966. From his behavioural research, Hass formed his energon hypothesis, the focus of his work in later years. It posits that the behaviours of all life-forms — human, nonhuman animal and plant — have common origins. [3] Combined with management strategies, in 1969 Hass published about commonalities with evolution. In the 1970s he addressed environmental and commercial themes and was appointed to a professorship by the University of Vienna. In 1983 he started long term studies and tutorials about predatory instincts in profession. Hass consolidated marine biology, behaviour research and management theories under one umbrella. From his point of view his energon theory cannot be disproved. In 1989 he addressed himself to environmental themes.

Following the disappearance of the Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt in the waters of Cheviot Beach at Portsea, Victoria on 17 December 1967, Hass visited Australia and explored the area where Holt disappeared [9] for his 1971 film documentary Das Geheimnis der Cheviot Bay (The Secret of Cheviot Bay). In an interview with Harry Martin for the ABC's current affairs programme "A.M" Hass said that having observed the underwater conditions of the area with its sharp and jagged rocks he was convinced that Holt had been trapped in the structure of one of these rocks and his body considerably torn by the nature of the forces of the sea and the sharp rocks.

Hass acknowledged a rivalry with the better-known French scientist Jacques Cousteau; according to the New York Times obituary, Hass told historian Tim Ecott that "For Cousteau there exists only Cousteau. He never acknowledged others or corrected the impression that he wasn't the first in diving or underwater photography." [3]

Hass died on 16 June 2013 in Vienna. He was 94 and was survived by his wife and daughter Meta. [3] Lotte Hass died in January 2015. Hass's son Hans Hass Jr., an actor and composer, committed suicide in 2009. [10]

2002 the Hans Hass Award was established by the Historical Diving Society. [11]

Innovation in diving technology

His main innovations in diving technology were: [12]



See also

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  1. Hass, Hans. "The Energon Theory" . Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  2. "Tauchpionier Hans Hass gestorben" (in German). Wien: ORF (broadcaster). 2013-06-22. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Vitello, Paul (July 7, 2013). "Hans Hass, 94, early explorer of the world beneath the sea". New York Times . p. A18. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  4. Sanders, GS; Wendell, FE (1991). "Closed-Circuit oxygen apparatus: Minimising risks for improved efficiency". In: Hans-Jurgen, K; Harper Jr, DE (eds.) International Pacifica Scientific Diving... 1991. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences Eleventh Annual Scientific Diving Symposium. Retrieved 2013-06-22.
  5. Roberts, Callum. The Unnatural History of the Sea, Island Press, 2007, p. 238
  6. 1 2 Hans-Hass-Institut für Submarine Forschung und Tauchtechnik. "Die Filme von Prof. Dr. Hans Hass" (PDF).
  7. Hans Hass: Erinnerungen & Abenteuer. Verlag Styria, Vienna 2004, ISBN   3-222-13155-4. S. 145
  8. 1 2 "Легендарная «Надежда» - флагман флота морской школы Академии парусного спорта (The legendary "Nadezhda" - the flagship of the Navy Naval School Sailing Academy)" (in Russian). Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  9. "Man of the sea" makes film of Cheviot Bay Trove: The Australian Women's Weekly, 18 February 1970. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  10. http://www.was-wurde-aus.at/hanshassjr-presse_bunte10.htm
  11. "Information about the Hans Hass Award". Archived from the original on 2015-09-23.
  12. Jung, Michael: Hans Hass. Ein Leben lang auf Expedition. Stuttgart, 1994
  13. Patent No. GB673.826
  14. "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 1084. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  15. "Hans & Lotte Hass". International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.