Frederic Dumas

Frederic Dumas

Frederic Dumas was close friends with Jacques Yves Cousteau and Philippe Tailliez. The three pioneering divers were known as Les Mousqemers or the Three Musketeers.

These three and Hans Hass opened the aquatic world. Dumas wrote extensively about diving, ocean exploration and marine life in numerous articles and books.

Frederic Dumas was born on July 26, 1913 and became a champion competitive swimmer at a very young age. Dumas was a free diving legend before scuba. He was a brave, adventurous diver that pioneered many new diving techniques. Dumas did the initial testing of the AquaLung after its invention in 1943 by Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan. He was the subject of many underwater photos and films shot by Cousteau. Several magazine covers showed underwater photos of Dumas including National Geographic and Life.

Dumas was especially interested in history from the sea and contributed significantly to marine archaeology. His home became a museum of artifacts recovered from his undersea explorations. This included marble columns and amphorae from Roman ships and ancient coins. Dumas was the first to learn from two old Greek coral divers about the ancient shipwreck at Grand Congloue near Marseilles, France. He was able to entice Cousteau and the Calypso Diving Team to excavate this 2,000-year-old Roman ship in 1952. This was the first extensive marine archaeology project that used scuba equipment. Frederic Dumas is easily recognizable in early diving films as the man in front of the camera. During Cousteau’s early filmmaking years, Frederic Dumas served as his primary support diver and model. With the invention of the AquaLung, word quickly spread about these “men-fish.” By the mid-1950s, underwater photos of Frederic Dumas appeared in publications around the world. In 1953, the notes and logs of Cousteau and Dumas were turned into a book, The Silent World. Dumas was a prolific writer. His books are now considered classics in the field and include: The Silent World (1953 with Jacques Cousteau); The Complete Manual of Free Diving (1957 with others); Deep-Water Archaeology (1962); and 30 Centuries Under The Sea (1972).

In Dumas’ later years, his passion was underwater archaeology. The diving community has recognised Dumas for his many contributions to diving with numerous awards and honours including the NOGI Award for Distinguished Service in 2000.