Who Invented the Snorkel?

by Mihai Pinzariu on September 24, 2019

Ever wondered who was the first person to think of sticking a tube in their mouth so they could stay underwater? So have we, and what a tale it is. Let us take you back 5,000 years ago, to where it all began!

3,000 BC: Crete

The first evidence of snorkelling exists just off the coast of Crete – trust the Mediterraneans to be the first to head underwater. These people weren’t going snorkelling to look at all the pretty fish and plant life, though – they were looking for natural sponges. You couldn’t just get them from the supermarket in those days. What did they use for a snorkel tube? A hollow reed.

900 BC: Assyria

In the ancient civilisation of Assyria, there’s evidence of divers using animal skins filled with air – an old school version of the modern day diving cylinders. They were clearly trying to spend a longer time underwater, but for what reason? We’re not quite sure…

500 BC: Greece

During the great war between the Greeks and Persians, there’s evidence of Greeks using hollow reeds to stay incognito underwater and avoid being spotted by their Persian enemies. In fact, one Greek soldier was even able to swing amongst the Persian fleet and cut them of their moorings to prevent an attack. Using only a reed to breathe, this ancient snorkeller swam over 14km – impressive indeed!

300BC: ???

The first diving bell is developed and used by divers under the guidance of Alexander the Great. The diving bell was a large object shaped like a bell, designed to trap air inside the top as it descends underwater. Not quite snorkelling, but definitely a version of it.

1300 AD: Persia

At last! People realise that it’s gross and itchy to open your eyes underwater for extended periods. The Persians are the first to make underwater goggles, using tortoise shells. They’d slice the shells thin enough for them to be translucent, and polish them to be see-through. Amazing!

1500 AD: Italy

The inventive and artistic lad Leonardo Da Vinci proposes his own version of diving tanks, this time without animal skins. One of his inventions involved a bag-like mask that goes over the diver’s head (kind of like a full face mask!) Two tubes attached to the nose area of the masks were connected to a diving bell on the surface. The all-too-kind Da Vinci scrapped his plans as he was worried someone would use his diving inventions to commit murder or sink ships.

1531 AD, Italy:

Safe in the knowledge that his inventions are being put to good and not evil use, Da Vinci allows Guillermo de Lorena to explore a shipwreck using his diving bell. He also presents what was basically the prototype for the snorkel today – a hollow tube that’s attached to a person’s swimming cap or helmet.

1538 AD: Spain

We’re in Spain, but it’s Greeks that set the record here. Using a large diving-bell type of contraption, a crew of olden day snorkellers submerged themselves to the bottom of the Tagus River and re-emerged with dry clothes and a still burning candle! Crowds were amazed (understandably so).

Somewhere along the line here, people decided that the diving bell wasn’t ideal as it didn’t allow for much movement and had a lot of limitations. So instead, they started going back to sticking things out of their mouths.

1717: USA

Benjamin Franklin did more than just found the USA. He invented his own version of fins, designed to help people swim faster through water. They weren’t as good as the fins you and I use, they were more like wooden paddles attached to your hands and feet. Not very practical.

1800s: England

We’ve all seen this hard-hat diver! The Siebe Gorman Company in England is the first to invent a diving helmet and dress that allowed people to freely move and interact with underwater life. The diver would be attached to a supply of air above the surface, but had to lug around a really heavy helmet and suit. This wasn’t a snorkel used on family holidays at beaches, it was mostly used for commercial purposes.

1912: France

He took Benjamin Franklins’ wooden paddles and turned them into something efficient and practical. Frenchie Louis de Corlieu invented what we now know as fins, presenting them to the French Navy (he clearly didn’t have the same conscience as Da Vinci). In 1933, he patented his fins.

Now we’ve hit the industrial revolution and what we call ‘modern day times’. This is when the snorkel evolved to look somewhat like the beautiful apparatus we see today. The first masks were DIY, homemade affairs built with stuff like tire tubes, leather, copper, glass, or plastic. You couldn’t just go online and hit up Ninja Shark, so people had to get inventive until they were made commercially available.

1940s: Everywhere

The earliest models of commercial snorkel masks are out! These were an oval piece of glass or plastic with a piece of rubber stretched over the edges and holding them into place. That was the goggle part, and it squished right over your nose. Check out the picture here, it doesn’t look very comfortable. This version of the snorkel mask was good for surface snorkelling, but since you couldn’t hold your nose to equalise the pressure, not great for diving.

1952: Italy

A company called Cressi releases a mask to solve the issues with the prior version. This one had a fancy nose pocket incorporated into the design of the mask for more comfortable snorkelling. Appropriately, the mask was called Pinocchio – and you can still buy it today (albeit a more updated version). This is basically the prototype version for the mask we see today, but there are still a few tweaks to be made.

1971: USA

A company called US Divers is the first to release a snorkel mask that uses silicone instead of rubber. The traditionally used rubber caused tunnel vision in wearers, deformed & shrunk from heat exposure, and became brittle and cracked with exposure to oxygen and UV rays. Silicone was more durable and resistant to damage, and didn’t have any of that weird tunnel vision.

2014: France

A French company invents the world’s first full face snorkel mask, allowing people to breathe both through their nose and mouth. And it’s the first of many, with manufacturers all over the world developing and refining this design to create their own new & improved versions of the full face masks.

2018: Australia

For the first time ever, snorkellers are able to pinch their nose and equalise while diving underwater, helping to ease pressure! This is an issue that’s been present in snorkelling since that day in Crete 5,000 years ago, and Ninja Shark is the first brand to combat it with their Pinch Your Nose & Equalise! full face snorkel mask. A long way away from the animal skins and hollow reeds of ancient times, these snorkel masks are comfy, anti-fog, and anti-leak for a smooth ride.


How many people dream of snorkelling but don't feel comfortable wearing a snorkel mask?

The Influencer @lud.around is a NINJASHARK lover!

NINJASHARK is the sound of a revolution in snorkeling. Whereas other water equipments companies are constantly adding poor quality products, we listen to your feedback and constantly improve our products to fit for all of your needs.

 
"I'm not leaving my room without the mask. The full face snorkeling mask from Australia is comfortable and fit me perfectly! Love how easy it is to breath out your nose and mouth when you snorkeling and even has earplugs!"

“The mask include GOPRO mounts, so you can easily film and photograph underwater scenery! I highly recommend especially to people who have a fear of snorkeling! This mask is really easy to use and is safe!” said @lud.around. “I can’t wait for my next trip with my new mask!”

The Ninja Shark full face snorkel masks makes your experiences the best they can be. They are exclusively sold on the Ninja Shark website.

The Ninja Shark full face snorkel masks comes equipped with advanced Anti-Fog technology, automatic drainage, no CO2 Buildup with improved uni-directional valves, and a revolutionary breathe flow system so you can breathe through both your nose and mouth.





“If you thought we’re just here to sell you products, think again. You’re part of the Ninja Shark family, and your feedback matters! We’re constantly working to improve our products and deliver the full face snorkel mask that exists only in our dreams!”

What customers are saying about us…

“Awesome set.

Loved the complete set. I even used the waterproof phone pouch to take photos and videos underwater. It made my Fiji experience so much better than using the free snorkel set that hurt your face after 2hours and leaving a sun/mask mark. The ninja leaves no marks and gives great vision under water in comparison. It did take some getting used to but it definitely paid off! Only frustration is that the tightening straps are quite basic; they should be much simpler to loosen and tighten both in and out of water.” – Jock

Try our line of snorkelling and swimming gear
by Ninja Shark! You’ll love it.

All Ninja Shark Products are tailor-made
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We care about making our products safe and healthy for you—and our planet.
That’s why the Ninja Shark Full Face Snorkelling Masks are made from a non-toxic and environmentally friendly anti-allergic medical grade silicone, that’s not only safer for your kids but safer for you too.
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Based on 1384 reviews
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Lifetime Warranty
Robyn H. (Adelaide, AU)
Amazing

The best snorkel and mask combination. No going back now! I could snorkel for over an hour easily. So glad I made this purchase

M
Package: Dry Snorkel (Set + Fins + Bag)
Mermaid M. (Townsville, AU)
Mermaid

While travelling in Timor leste l met a fellow snorkeller. We snorkelled for 10 days together the food was shit but the water was stunning. The friend was using Ninja Shark fins and mask mine were steaming up, letting in water and heavy. On arriving back in Australia l ordered straight away.
I was a little bit anxious on receiving my order as the mask was quite different to my old one and the fins were short and adjustable ( l wanted them to be my size ! ) well to my luck the weather was beautiful ( yes mid winter in Mackay ) and perfect for boating so off we scooted to Cockermouth ( don't laugh it's a real place ) jumping in and WOW I'm now a mermaid 🧜‍♀️ the mask and fins felt like part of me. I actually cried as not only was the equipment allowing me to explore as l wanted but the reef was STUNNING. So lm indepted to Ninja Shark for making me the mermaid l always aspired to be 🧜‍♀️

Took it to Tahiti

I wasn’t quite sure about getting a full face mask but bought mine (Electra package) before a trip to Tahiti which we got home from yesterday - absolutely LOVED it!!! I’ll be getting one for my wife before our next trip to a similar destination. BTW I make LOTS of crazy videos with lots of toys.

Judge.me YouTube video placeholder
Life changing

I do love my full face snorkel.. the freedom of nose breathing under the water.. the meditative and relaxative effect of this snorkeling is unexpected and great. Fits so well.. comfy to wear for long time.. highly recommend

Super quality & fit

So happy we got Ninja shark, perfect for Great barrier reef snorkel day.
Flippers, mask, dry wallet, carry bag (good quality bag), anti fog spray, happy days.

Ninja Shark Kids Mask

We recently brought the Ninja Shark Kids 3-11 Mask + Fins + Bag package for our 7 year old who absolutely loves it! Will be buying three more for the rest of the family. 😊

Even better than expected!

I saw the kids full face snorkel masks online, and thought they looked pretty cool. I ordered two for Christmas, for my 3 and 6 year olds. Wow, did they have a great time with them!

I wasn't sure how the 3 year old would go with it, but he was comfortable in it almost immediately, and spent hours swimming around and seeing a whole new world of underwater scenery.

They were easy to fit, zero issues with them staying on. No leaks or fog.

They can't wait to get back to the water!

Highly recommend this product :)

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Electra - Full Face Snorkel Mask
Nick J. (Brisbane, AU)
mask swimming

The mask did exactly what was stated. I was very happy and will get another mask for my daughter.

S
Electra - Full Face Snorkel Mask
Sheara R. (Perth, AU)
Great way to swim

I have NEVER been able to snorkel but love swimming. These full face snorkels are an absolute game changer in my life. Now I try to swim around 5 kms a week in the local pool. The Ninja mask makes it easy to do laps. I’ve been using the Ninja Shark for a quite few years and find the new Electra the best full face mask ever. No leaks, no fog and really easy to use and great quality. I’ve noticed my regular chats with other swimmers at the pool have encouraged many of them to purchase one of their own. I’ve given my older models to my grandkids and they love them too.

Fabulous

I got one for the 3 year old and one for the 5 year old, I thought maybe the 3 year old would get the hang of it eventually but they both loved it and mastered it pretty quickly. We’ve only used in the swimming pool, excited to go snorkeling in the ocean soon. Great product.

S
Lifetime Warranty
Sarah B. (Surfers Paradise, AU)
Love it!

Amazing product ! Have the electra package, kids love it. So easy to use. Highly recommend

J
Diving Dry Snorkel Set with GoPro mount
Jennifer M. (Brisbane, AU)
Love it

Bought these for myself and my husband after getting the full face masks for the kids, and they were so good we’re getting them for the rest of the extended family for Xmas. The fact u can dive down and not get water down ur snorkel is a brilliant bonus! Makes our family holidays much easier and better without snorkel dramas!

This made our holiday

The product itself was amazing, but the service we received allowed us to get our 2 sets of masks for our cruise. We took them with us and used them multiple times for snorkelling on our cruise to Nouméa and New Caledonia. It was amazing snorkelling and being able to breathe easily, and the fins were the most comfortable I've ever used. I've got size 13 feet, and not only were they completely adjustable, but they were THE most comfortable fins ever invented. A massive shoutout to Colleen Zamora from your support staff who helped me out and made it possible to take our gear on holidays! Thanks Colleen!
The photo is us snorkelling off Amadee Island looking for turtles!

<3 em

So, I had the old type standard snorkle set I saw the add on tiktok thought I would give it a go. ONG I love them!!! They are so comfortable easy to get on and off and very very good to snorkle with I can see perfect clear thru them and doesn’t fill up with water! A very happy camper

My kids love them

I’ve got three of these masks for my younger kids, however the oldest wants one too as the young ones rave about how good the are.

Summer Family Fun

Our Ninja masks have made snorkelling as a whole family very easy and enjoyable. The kids (and parents) find them super easy to use and have allowed us as a family of five to snorkel for longer than we ever could using traditional snorkel gear. I would highly recommend these masks.

G
Lifetime Warranty
Geri D. (Sydney, AU)
Lifetime warranty

Glad I have but haven’t needed to use .. yet

Great Mask

Love this mask. Kids find it so much easier snorkelling with the Ninja Shark. The snorkel mask is super clear and doesn’t fog up. The adjustable straps are great and easy to loosen and tighten. Very happy that we made the decision to get these for the kids.

A must for snorkelers!

Recently purchased the Equaliser Pro Mask, Finns and bag. 🤿 🐠🐡🐟🦈 Had an amazing time snorkeling off Fitzroy Island, the Pro mask allowed me to explore for over 7 hours. Higly recommend! Planning must next snorkeling trip! 🤿💦🌴☀️

awsome

we used our new masks over the weekend. they were amazing, my daughter barely had her head out of the water all day.

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Lifetime Warranty
Lina J. (Gold Coast, AU)
life warranty

This is great! More stores should do it!

O
Lifetime Warranty
Olivia (Perth, AU)
Fantastic snorkel!

Our 5 year old has never snorkelled. Put it on and was snorkelling no problem straight away! Easy for him to put on and off by himself. We bought the full package with flippers (also amazing and he can put them on by himself) and the two wet bags. The foldable snorkel is so handy for storing while we are travelling. And the lifetime warranty gives us great comfort that we can use it for future trips! We are so impressed with this product I’m going to get mum and dad one too!

Kids snorkel

It is a lot easier for the younger children to have fun and snorkel without worrying about their nose breathing. My 6 year old swims confidently and happily.

Good clear vision

The first time I tried the mask, I felt I’d made a mistake to buy one!
But with a bit more trial and error and a few more readjustments, I managed to settle into using it.
Each time I went for a snorkel, there was always the need to readjust because you don’t necessarily get the mask on in exactly the same position as it was in the last use. The mask always kept water from entering the eye area, but at times I couldn’t completely seal the mouth area and small amounts of water would seep in, but not stop me from breathing! I never managed to breath with my nose, only with my mouth.
On a big plus, I never had issues with fogging up and you get good clear area of vision. I also wear multi focal glasses, so to solve the problem of poor vision in a snorkel mask, I bought very cheap and ugly pair of glasses with large lenses! I then took the arms off the glasses and carefully placed them inside the eye area of the mask and kept them in place with a piece of blu tac!! 😆 It worked beautifully for my distance vision which is is used the most when snorkelling! I might try an old pair of prescription lenses next time, and then I might be able to read the underwater camera settings as well!
The mask can be a bit fiddly at times, and awkward to get into the right place, but with some patience it did really well, and I never resorted to going back to use my ‘normal’ mask and snorkel. We snorkelled in both calm and choppy water successfully. 🤓🐠🐟🐡🦀🐙
Thanks Ninja Shark!

Kids loved them!

We bought two long tube masks for the girls as a Xmas present, they first tested them in the bath!! The next trip was the beach, they spent hours in the water, my 3yr old son wanted to use the masks too. He loved it as well, he'll be getting one for his birthday. 😊