Underwater diving in popular culture

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Movies, novels, TV series and shows, comics, graphic art, sculpture, games, myths, legends, and misconceptions. Fiction in general relating to all forms of diving, including hypothetical and imaginary methods, and other aspects of underwater diving which have become part of popular culture.



TV series[edit]

  • Sea Hunt – American action adventure television series from 1958 to 1961
  • Assignment: Underwater – American adventure television series from 1960 to 1961
  • Diver Dan – A series of 104 seven-minute live-action shorts made for children's television
  • H2O: Just Add Water – 2006 children's television show from Australia
  • Man from Atlantis – American science fiction television series
  • Sealab 2020 – Television cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera Productions
  • Sealab 2021 – American animated television series (2000-2005)
  • Stingray – British children' Supermarionation television series}}




16th century Islamic painting of Alexander the Great lowered in a glass diving bell.

One of several illustrations of Alexander the Great being lowered into the sea from a boat inside a transparent cylinder, interpreted as a glass diving bell. The style of the illustration varies with the era and culture of the artist, but the basic subject remains much the same.

"Trying to Raise McGinty from the Bottom of the Sea" by Bernhard Gillam, in Judge, July 16, 1892.

Political cartoon depicting Grover Cleveland.

Graffiti at Kolpingstraße 40, Hoyerswerda

Mural art showing an underwater scene with scuba divers,

"Un partie de croquet"

Early 20th century whimsical advertising illustration.

Plate depicting the Wildrake in May 1979, by Melissa Highton

Painting on ceramic commemorating a North Sea commercial offshore diving incident in 1979.


The Diver, by John Kauffman


Awards and events[edit]



The 1951 movie The Frogmen used three-cylinder aqualungs, as shown on the DVD cover. At the time DESCO were making three-cylinder constant flow breathing sets that lacked the demand valve of the aqualung,[citation needed] but they were rarely deployed in the war, and the preferred system in the US armed forces was the rebreather developed by Christian J. Lambertsen.[1]

The 1958 film The Silent Enemy with Laurence Harvey as Lionel "Buster" Crabb, describes his exploits during World War II. It was made following the publicity created by Crabb's mysterious disappearance and likely death during a Cold War incident a year earlier.[citation needed]

The 1955 film Above Us the Waves, based on the 1953 book of the same title, includes a reenactment of Operation Title, the attempted attack by British frogmen on the Tirpitz in 1942. The film is notable for the efforts made to be historically accurate.[2]

The 1965 James Bond film Thunderball depicts an extended underwater battle, featuring frogmen.[3]

In the 1966 sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage and its accompanying novelization by Isaac Asimov, the character of former navy veteran and now government agent Charles Grant is referenced as a communications expert and experienced frogman.[4]

The film Submarine X-1, made in 1969, loosely based on the real Operation Source, depicts British World War II frogmen's equipment inaccurately. The breathing sets shown are open-circuit and are merely a very fat cylinder across the belly, with a black single-hose second-stage regulator such as was not invented until the 1960s. Also shown were ordinary recreational scuba weight belts and diving half-masks with elliptical windows. The frogmen in the real war operation mostly used Sladen suits and an early model of Siebe Gorman rebreathers with a backpack weight pouch containing lead balls releasable by pulling a cord.[citation needed]

The 1972 movie Tintin and the Lake of Sharks featured some frogmen among Mr. Rastapopolus's conspiracy.[citation needed]


Sea Hunt was an American action adventure television series that aired in syndication from 1958 to 1961 and was popular in syndication for decades afterwards. The series originally aired for four seasons, with 155 episodes produced. It stars Lloyd Bridges as former United States Navy frogman, Mike Nelson.

Derivative word usages[edit]

Some scuba diving clubs have an entry class called "Tadpoles" for younger children who want to start scuba diving.[citation needed]

Errors about frogmen found in public media[edit]

Incongruences in fiction[edit]

Many comics have depicted combat frogmen and other covert divers using two-cylinder twin-hose open-circuit aqualungs. All real covert frogmen use rebreathers because the stream of bubbles from an open-circuit set would give away the diver's position.[citation needed]

Many aqualungs have been anachronistically depicted in comics in stories set during World War II, when in reality at that time period aqualungs were unknown outside Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his close associates in Toulon in south France. Some aqualungs were smuggled out of occupied France during the war (these may have been Commeinhes regulators).[citation needed]

The movie The Frogmen, similarly, depicted frogmen using three-cylindered aqualungs, including on its movie poster. DESCO were making three-cylinder constant flow sets that lacked the demand valve of an aqualung, but they were rarely used in the war,[citation needed] and the preferred system was the rebreather developed by Christian J. Lambertsen.

Ian Edward Fraser V.C. in 1957 wrote a book Frogman V.C. about his experiences. Its dust cover depicted on it a frogman placing a limpet mine on a ship, wearing a breathing set with twin over-the-shoulder wide breathing tubes emitting bubbles from behind his neck, presumably drawn after an old-type aqua-lung.[5]

Drawing and artwork[edit]

There have been thousands of drawings[citation needed][original research?] (mostly in comics) of combat frogmen and other scuba divers with two-cylinder twin-hose aqualungs shown with one wide breathing tube coming straight out of each cylinder top with no regulator,[6][7][8] far more than of twin-hose aqualungs depicted accurately with a regulator, or of combat frogmen with rebreathers.[citation needed][original research?]

Twin-hose without visible regulator valve (fictional)[edit]

This type is mentioned here because it is very familiar in comics and other drawings, as a wrongly-drawn twin-hose two-cylinder aqualung, with one wide hose coming out of each cylinder top to the mouthpiece with no apparent regulator valve, much more often than a correctly-drawn twin-hose regulator (and often of such breathing sets being used by combat frogmen):[citation needed] see Frogman#Errors about frogmen found in public media. It would not work in the real world.[9]





Common errors of fact and misunderstanding of the physics and physiology of diving in journalism and popular culture.

  • Use of "oxygen" as a breathing gas: Most recreational scuba diving uses air or other gas mixtures. reports in newspapers referring to the diver running out of oxygen may be technically correct, as it is hypoxia that kills the drowning victim, but references to "oxygen cylinders" are usually wrong, excepting in rare cases of oxygen rebreathers. In many cases it is obvious from the context that the breathing gas was air and the diver ran out of air, not oxygen.


  1. ^ Vann RD (2004). "Lambertsen and O2: beginnings of operational physiology". Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine. 31 (1): 21–31. PMID 15233157. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  2. ^ Levine, Philippa; Grayzel, Susan R (2009). Gender, Labour, War and Empire: Essays on Modern Britain. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 160. ISBN 978-0230521193.
  3. ^ "Production notes for Thunderball". MI6.co.uk. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  4. ^ Asimov, Isaac (1966). "4 : Briefing". Fantastic Voyage (PDF).
  5. ^ book: Frogman V.C., publisher: Angus & Robertson, London, 1957
  6. ^ http://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/809545.jpg This image of a comic page has an example of this error.
  7. ^ Examples at [1], [2]
  8. ^ "Frogman (Hillman) - Comic Book Plus". comicbookplus.com.
  9. ^ Examples, and variations, at [3], [4], [5]
  10. ^ "Ocean Men: Extreme Dive (2001)". IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc. 31 August 2001. Retrieved 15 June 2018.