Retro Heaven

Death of Lotte Hass

Death of Hans Hass’ wife, Lotte…

lotteLotte Hass, the ‘First Lady of Sub Aqua Diving’ has died aged eighty six. She, alongside her husband, Hans, brought the thrill and wonderment of deep sea exploration to our television screens in the 1950s and early 60s. They pioneered not only underwater photographic equipment but practical, lightweight solutions to using them in the water.

Before their television debut, they appeared on the BBC Radio series, ‘Danger is our Business’ in which they told astonished listeners stories of being attacked by sea lions and giant clams, the latter of which almost took Lotte’s life save for her husband’s skill with a spear.

It’s easy to forget how exciting it must have been in dark and dreary 1950s post war England to see two young, attractive people diving in the Indian Ocean and bringing that sense of escapism, albeit in black and white, to our screens. They also made it to the cinema with the film version of their book, ‘Under the Red Sea’ which won not only critical acclaim but endeared Lotte to a worldwide audience not used to seeing a young woman in a bathing costume swimming amongst whales and sharks and other sea creatures.

Despite her obvious beauty, Lotte was a serious diver and researcher. She was brave beyond most people’s comprehension, in one of the film’s sequences she is seen being knocked out by a giant manta ray as she became the first woman ever to swim along the Red Sea’s coral beds. Along with Hans she recorded the first ever underwater pictures of sperm whales swimming in the Cocos Islands during their last film in 1954 called ‘Under the Caribbean’.

Whilst they never reached the heights of popularity which Jacques Costeau might have boasted, they can be credited for paving his way. They were the forerunners to the wonderful documentaries of the 1960s and 70s and their designs and research allowed others to take underwater exploration to the next level. Lotte Hass made an important contribution to our understanding of the sea and its inhabitants and whilst her looks may have proved a distraction for some her legacy of work certainly outshone the attention of male admirers.

By the 1960s Lotte had given up diving and film-making when Hans turned his attention to studying human behaviour. She wrote a book called ‘Girl on the Ocean Floor’ which was published in 1970 and made into a film in 2011. The film-drama served as a reminder to German audiences in particular of what Lotte had achieved in a relatively short period and the possibilities her and her husband opened up for future scientists.

Lotte Hass 1928-2015


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