I could not see anything, but I could feel the fish thrashing and still connected to the shooting line. I was laying on my back beneath a massive boulder the size of a truck. The clearance was just enough to scrape my way in but my arms had to be extended above my head. In my right hand I navigated my way deeper into the hole using the shooting line as my guide, and in my left hand I held my flashlight, which did not provide much help. Silt and blood clouded my vision, and visibility had dropped to just inches. I am usually very comfortable with tight spaces, but this managed to set in a realistic sense of claustrophobia. I was 30 feet underwater, 8 feet into a tight hole, and my spear was stuck in a World Record lingcod. It also happened to be that I was competition in the 2012 U.S. national spearfishing competition. It was a perfect storm of events that had huge potential to turn out good or really bad.
My Name is Dan Silveira. I was born in 1984, and my Dad is from the islands the Azores. I began diving there with him when I was 7. My passion for the ocean is deeply connected to my ancestry roots. As far back as I know my family all lived off the sea. I began competitively spearfishing in 2006. My professional carrier spearfishing was extremely successful and provided me with a springboard into my developing profession of underwater photography and filming.
Today, I use my connection with the sea, my knowledge of diving, and my understanding of marine life to film the world the way I see it. This allows me to share it with hundreds of thousands of people, inspiring others to appreciate our world with a different perspective on seeing the ocean and understanding the importance of where our food comes from.
Receiving this award is something I value very much. Ironically my motivation for competing maybe very different than what most people believe. There are three main reasons why I competed.
First, I love exploring new areas, and having a fixed schedule of events I needed to scout for, motivated me to dive places I may not have ever gone. Scouting gave me knowledge of the reef to a mastery level, and forever, I will have these areas mapped out completely.
Second, I don’t like failing, and my drive for success in competitions pushed me to train harder and become a much better freediver and spear fisherman. I religiously trained every week, both for my freediving technique and ability, but also my ability to spearfish efficiently. This increase in work ethics helped me in many other aspects of my life also.
Third, developing a real understanding of fish required an unbelievable amount of time watching and interacting with them. Scouting for weeks at a time was the perfect way to understand the fish. If I were to always spear the fish every time I saw them, I would never learn their behavior the way I have through scouting without hunting.
To finish the story I started with, I managed to put two more spears in that lingcod. The head was so big that no matter which position I moved the fish to, there was no way to get it out unless I made the hole bigger. I used my abalone iron to dig a trench in the cobble bottom. After 30+ dives, I secured my fish. That day ended up turning out very good for me. I became the 2012 National Spearfishing Champion and I received the big fish award while also setting the new 21st century record for that species.
Some of my best life experiences and moments are from those years leading up to that competition. I feel extremely grateful to my friends who joined me through that six-year journey. I am also thankful to the few pricks in the community who motivated me, in a different way, to see the real importance of why I dive and spearfish. While I have now distanced myself from competing as much, I did that so I could refocus my time, passion, and determination to document the world from behind a camera so I can now share with the world.
Spearfishing Competition Accomplishments:
1st Place USA National Championships 2012 – Albion, Ca (Individual and Team)
1st Place: Cen – Cal Team of the year 2012 (Individual and Team)
1st place Triton X tournament 2011 (Individual)
1st Place: Cen – Cal Team of the year 2011 (Individual and Team)
1st place individual Cen-Cal nationals qualifier – black Butte lake (Individual and Team)
-First, and youngest, diver to ever win the Pacific coast championships Four times in a row.
1st Place: Pacific Coast Championship 2007 (Individual and Team)
1st Place: Pacific Coast Championship 2008 (Individual and Team)
1st Place: Pacific Coast Championship 2009 (Individual and Team)
1st Place: Pacific Coast Championship 2010 (Individual and Team)
1st Place: Cen – Cal Team of the year 2010 (Team)
Team diver for USA in the world competition in 2010 and 2013
21st Century Spearfishing World Records:
2011 – Halibut, California – 50.9 lbs.
2012 Lingcod 37 lbs.
2013 Vermillion rockfish 10.01 lbs
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