Fred Buyle


Hails from: Belgium
Currently lives in: Brussels and the Azores are the two places I wash my clothes.
Favorite Place: Anywhere in the Ocean
Favorite Things to Do: Eating Belgian chocolate after a good day of freediving
Favorite Shark: Great Hammerhead

What shark are you most like and why?
The shark you don’t see coming of course. We are always focused on the sharks in our field of vision and not relying enough on our abilities to feel what is happening around us. That applies to life in general too.

If you could tell people one thing about about sharks and/or the oceans, what would it be?
Go and meet the sharks in their environment using freediving, then you’ll experience what is probably the best way to understand their true nature.

How did sharks draw you into their watery world?
They always have fascinated me. I’m from what I name the “Jaws generation”, I was a 4 years old when the movie was released, I grew up with it but I never was frightened by sharks.

As I have the privilege to spend a lot of time in the ocean with sharks as an uw photographer/cameraman, I try to bring to the general audience positive  images of sharks. By doing that I push people to rethink the shark and discover it on an other angle than the one media uses: fear, big open jaws and blood thirsty predator attitude.

Organizations I support:
Malpelo Foundation

Learn More:

Short Bio:
Fred comes from a long line of Waterman and literally grew up in the water, spending his childhood at sea – often for several months a year aboard the family’s sailboats his father built in the garden. When Fred was 4, he found a book on freediving and became obsessed. He studied the techniques intently and dreamed of becoming a fish.

He finally taught himself to freedive at the age of 10. Spending the summers spear fishing in the Mediterranean, his passion quickly became his desired vocation. He literally became an integral part of developing the sport of freediving – while creating his own career path. He became a PADI and CMAS scuba diving instructor and then, was the first to start a free diving school in Belgium at the age of 18.

It wasn’t long before he set his 1st world record in 1995 and then it became his singular obsession. He set three more world records between 1997 and 2000 and in 1999, Fred passed the 100 meter’s mythical barrier on one breath of air; only the 8th person to do so. In 2002, he was inspired to start taking underwater photos expanding his vocation, to show the beauty of free diving and the underwater world to those who never ventured to the deep. To take his pictures Fred uses a simple formula: the water, available light, a camera and one breathe of air. And the results have become world acclaimed. He quickly became the official photographer of choice for worldwide freediving events.

In 2005 Fred started what would become the Waterman Project, tagging more than 25 hammerheads in Mapelo, Columbia.  Since then, the techniques have improved as has the efficacy, but the main approach has remained the same. It was then Frederic developed a love for sharks – dedicating his skills and resources to their survival. Several expeditions and hundreds of sharks later, Fred has been to Mapelo to tag scalloped hammerhead, galapagos and ferox (smalltooth sand tiger) sharks, French Polynesia twice to tag lemon and great hammerhead sharks, Reunion to tag Bull Sharks, Guadalupe to tag white sharks twice, the Phillipines to tag thresher sharks, and South Africa to tag and biopsy black tip sharks. Fredric specializes in filming, photgraphing and tagging sharks, on a single breath of air, quietly, without cages or noisy scuba equipment enabling him to experience what few others can. Unlike invasive and often negative methods that require fishing for and removing sharks from their habitat, Fred is able to tag sharks with no negative effects, respecting the sharks while fueling research that will protect the sharks in the years to come.

A certified SSI, AIDA, APNEA Academy, and CMAS instructor, Frederic also loves sailing and spends as much time as he can in the water. He still teaches free diving and adores helping others enjoy and become proficient at the sport. He is actively working at increasing the number and quality of freedivers around the world - from an enthusiast perspective. He is an author as well, having published two books: one a free diving handbook to break down the barriers of the sport and the second a book of his images captured underwater. He is also a dedicated shark conservationist, using his images to demystify sharks, serving as a spokesperson for sharks in the media, educating children, leading expeditions around the world to make sharks more valuable alive than dead, and donating his waterman skills to shark scientists around the globe. He supports several organizations both nationally and internationally, including serving as the honorary president of Shark Angels France. Finally, his love for the water has garnered much interest and he is also the subject of several documentaries around the world which provides a strong platform to promote his passions: freediving, shark conservation and a love for the oceans.