By Kathryn G. Menu
A search continues this week for an East Hampton man who failed to surface after a free dive off a remote island in Indonesia last week.
Dashiel Marder, 30, was reported missing last Wednesday, April 17, when he failed to resurface after a dive in a remote area of Nihuwatu in East Nusa Tenggara.
The family, which own Marders Garden Center and Nursery in Bridgehampton, said a search of land and sea is ongoing, with American, Australian and Indonesian authorities involved in the search for the Springs resident.
“On April 17th the Marder family received word that Dashiel Marder, who was spearfishing with a group in East Nusa Tenggara Indonesia, did not resurface after a free-dive,” said the family in a statement. “The family was told that Dashiel’s companions immediately searched the dive site and surrounding area, both free-diving and scuba-diving, relying on direct knowledge of the location’s tides, currents, and rock formations, as well as on Dash’s particular diving habits. These initial searches yielded no results.”
According to Silas, his brother, Dashiel Marder — an accomplished spear fisherman — was traveling with a group of people who, like him, are highly experienced in the sport. He had traveled to Indonesia as the final leg of a spearfishing trip that took him to Hawaii and French Polynesia.
“He was with high-level people that are into serious training and are at the top of the sport,” said Silas.
Free divers do not use scuba equipment, instead, they dive to depths of 100 to 130 feet on a single breath of air, remaining under water for one to three minutes per dive.
“Though Dashiel is an expert free-diver and had been diving the same area for three weeks prior to the event, free-divers can succumb to a condition known as Shallow Water Blackout,” said the Marder family in the statement. “This occurs when a diver experiences a loss of consciousness below the surface at the end of a dive. Due to the remoteness of the area and differences in language and time zones, the fact-gathering process is ongoing as of press time. It is expected to conclude later this week.”
And yet, the remoteness which has made the investigation into what happened to Dashiel so difficult was one of the things that he treasured in the sport, the family noted.
“The extraordinary seas of East Nusa Tenggara are inhabited by equally extraordinary fish,” said the family. “At the time of his disappearance, Dash and his friends were hunting dog-tooth tuna and other large pelagic species.”
Dashiel came to the sport of spearfishing already an avid outdoorsman, raised on hunting and fishing on the East End and excelling at both at an early age, remembered Silas.
“He and [their brother] Micah always had a sensitivity to that kind of thing,” he said. “He just loved it.”
Dashiel not only loved spearfishing, he has excelled at it, travelling the globe in search of pelagic fish. As of last summer, his personal record of a Pacific yellowfin was a 338-pounder he speared off the coast of Mexico — the second largest Pacific yellowfin ever speared.
“He had the mental control you need to know how the fish behave to find them, to get close enough to them,” said Silas. “It’s knowing the currents, knowing the water. It’s like a behavioral science.”
Physically, Dashiel also kept himself in top form to keep his body in the kind of shape to handle the stress free diving can put on the body.
“He was definitely a world class spear fisherman,” said Silas. “This was a serious passion that involved a training regimen that ensured he was always physically fit and mentally aware, but always connected to the water.”
“He was into the outdoors from a very, very young age, growing up our here,” added Silas. “He was on the water fishing, he was hunting and from a very young age he just mastered it.”
Dashiel was featured in a cover story about spearfishing off Montauk in 2012 summer edition of The Express’s XO magazine, an image captured by photographer Justin Burkle of Dashiel spearfishing gracing that cover.
“I’m in the water spearfishing almost every day,” said Dashiel in the article. “I spend most of my time around Montauk and places like The Race. The good thing about The Point is that there is so much current and so much fish that every day is different. One day and one tide will be all big fish, the next day and the next tide it’s small fish.”
“It’s what I live for,” he said.