It’s not often that a new product comes along that truly has the possibility to change the sport of spearfishing.
Over the last few months we’d noticed information about new wetsuit technology being peppered across the inter webs. Claims of blocking the electrical signal given off by divers and allowing us to get closer to fish and lobster. Our interest was immediately piqued. Strangely enough, only a few days later we were contacted by Warren Bird, VP of product development for HECS Aquatic in Auckland, New Zealand.
A few weeks later a shiny new HECS Stealth Screen 5mm suit arrived at our office. My first impression: nice suit. The stitching, seams and all construction looked really good. The camo pattern looked like it would work well allowing divers to blend into the bottom. All in all it was clearly a very well made and thought out suit.
As I waited for a weather window to give offer a chance to put the new technology woven into the suit to the test, I dove into the details on HECS and the technology that sets the suit apart from the hundreds of other suits on the market.
Here are the details:
ALL LIVING CREATURES EMIT A MEASURABLE ELECTRICAL ENERGY SIGNAL:
Muscle movement, heart beat and brain activity all cause the emission of faint electrical energy signals.
MANY MARINE SPECIES CAN SENSE ELECTRIC SIGNALS:
Species known to have electroreception include lobsters and crayfish, sharks, rays, eels, lampreys, ratfish, lungfish, sturgeons and some dolphins.
This special sense allows those animals to detect electrical energy in the vicinity as a defense mechanism or for identifying prey.
HECS STEALTHSCREEN REDUCES THE HUMAN ELECTRIC SIGNAL:
HECS is designed to help you get closer to many marine creatures in their natural undisturbed state.
HECS patented technology uses a conductive carbon fiber mesh designed to reduce your electrical energy field. HECS is based on the Faraday Cage principle invented by English scientist Michael Faraday. A Faraday Cage is an enclosure made of a conductive grid that attenuates electrical fields.
So what does that mean for spearfishermen? The ability to hunt closer to your prey, triggering easier shots and allowing better shot placement.
FINALLY the weather broke and gave me the opportunity to get out and put the HECS suit through its paces. I was able to dive the suit on three different trips with depths ranging from 20 to 52 feet. Visibility ranged from 5 to as much as 40 feet. Target species were hogfish, mangrove snapper, Atlantic sheepshead and cobia.
The first thing I noticed about the suit was that it is REALLY warm. The 64 degree water had me occasionally pulling my hood open to allow water in. After a few exploratory dives and finding the “fishy parts” of the structure, I focused on the mangrove snapper — typically a spookier species always darting in and out. The mangroves seemed much more curious than what I was accustomed to. Dive after dive the mangroves would come in from the sand or out of the rocks to investigate who I was and what I was doing in their area. With each of their investigations, I was given a clean clear shot. I even intentionally changed up my approach to be a bit more aggressive to ensure it was the suit having some effect and not just me getting extremely lucky. Yes, the mangroves did scatter, but returned much more quickly than I have experienced in the past.
The few large sheepshead that were still in the area leftover from the offshore spawn also seemed less likely to bolt. As many of you know, sheepshead will give you a small window with an easy shot then immediately turn on the afterburners and disappear. A few decided they wanted no part of me but the majority hung around longer and allowed me to place better shots.
As always, the hogfish cooperated. It’s hard to get a good bearing on the efficacy of the suit when hunting this species. I’ve yet to find anything that turns them skittish.
The grouper were everywhere (as they normally are when the season is closed) and extremely friendly and curious. I can’t honestly say I noticed any different behavior from the gags. I haven’t found a scientific way to prove it, but I’m certain that gag grouper know when they’re safe and when they’re fair game. The DAY season opens you can’t blink without sending them into warp speed.
I’m a huge fan of technology and progression in our sport, so I was extremely excited to see if the HECS Aquatic Stealthscreen was legit or simply a marketing ploy. I went in with excitement but a very healthy dose of skepticism. When doing a product review I let every manufacturer know that if their product doesn’t stack up, I’ll still print the truth I observed while testing.
After three different dive trips in varying conditions and depths I honestly believe HECS is onto something and that something could add one more advantage to our arsenal as spearfishermen.
To learn more about HECS Stealth Screen wetsuits and dive skins visit their website at www.HECSAQUATIC.com, check them out on Facebook and Instagram, and keep an eye out for future articles within the pages of Spearing Magazine.