Who Invented the Snorkel?

by Alex Chiruta 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!