Described as the ‘first lady of diving’, Lotte Hass was a diver and underwater photography pioneer who worked with her husband, the oceanographer, Hans Hass.

She was born on 6 November 1928, and while working as secretary to Hans, she dreamed of joining a diving expedition. Taking advantage of his absence while on a lecture tour, she went on a private expedition, and two weeks later, a photograph of her appeared on the cover of the Wiener Illustriete magazine, together with her article and underwater photos.

“Not bad these pictures”, Hans remarked, “If you were a man, I could make use of you. Pity”.

Persistence paid off however, and thanks to a request from Hans’s film company for a female lead for his next film, she won over his objections. As she noted in her diary, “Port Sudan, 4 April [1950]: From today, I am a man…”

Money made from Under the Red Sea enabled Hans to buy his new marine research vessel, Xarifa. In 1953, it set sail from Hamburg for the couple’s next expedition, recorded in Unternehmen Xarifa (Under the Caribbean, 1954), the first German film to be shot in Technicolor. This journey through the Galápagos archipelago, Cocos Islands and the Caribbean included the first underwater pictures of sperm whale

Lotte was inducted into both the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame and the Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2000.

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