Found along the Pacific US coast from southern Alaska to the Baja California coast, the mystery of these fish lures divers to immerse themselves amongst the columns of kelp forests in search of the elusive “grey ghost”. Multiple attempts without even as much as a sighting are common and enough to drive a spearfisher mad. 

A deeper insight is held by Mike Raabe, a cinematographer, director, and photographer specializing in underwater photography and video, working on breath-hold to create unique and captivating content. As a part 107 drone pilot, stunning aerial footage compliments his skillset.  Keep an eye out for his documentary Ghosts of the Pacific this summer which uncovers the behaviors of white sea bass by following anglers and spearfishers through a journey of persistence and triumph to learn the ways of these mysterious fish. Raabe’s perspective and stunning imagery will leave you breathless, and if you’re lucky, with one of these prize fish on your menu to share with family and talk story about. We caught up with Mike about his projects.


What drew you to make a documentary on WSB?

What drew me to do a documentary about white sea bass is the thrill of hunting white sea bass, whether it be with a speargun or a camera. The same principles are used to find and dive with the fish. There is something about spending long hours in the cold murky waters off California searching for an elusive fish. It can certainly be frustrating but is so rewarding when things line up and you’re able to spear or capture some beautiful behaviors of white sea bass. Making a documentary about a fish that I am so passionate about seemed like the next logical step to further my career. So with years of experience both in the water and in cinematography, I decided to embark on a 3 year journey producing a documentary that follows the behaviors of white sea bass by following fishermen and spearfishermen through their efforts of hunting white sea bass. 


Have you noticed any changes in the local marine life or ecosystem over your time spearfishing/freediving?


I have noticed white sea bass seem to have rebounded well since the near shore gill net ban in 1992 and 30 years later we are seeing world record fish and much higher numbers of white sea bass in our water. This is evident in diver sightings and the catch rates commercially and recreationally. 


Share a challenging moment and how you overcame it with this project.

One of the most challenging moments while filming this project has been capturing divers spearing white sea bass. It is hard enough to locate and spearfish on your own, but doing so with a camera guy behind you adds many variables and makes it that much tougher to get close to the fish. I was fortunate enough to dive with expert divers, Ryan Moore and Matt Lum, who were successful in spearing white sea bass with me trailing behind them.


What advice would you give to someone considering taking up underwater filming as a hobby or lifestyle?

For the up-and-coming underwater photographer out there, immerse yourself as much as possible. Dive, dive, and dive some more! Don't be afraid to push your photographic limits and try some new things with different lenses and lights. Find your passion and stick with it, persistence and consistency will pave the way for you!

 What is the message you want to share or any inspiring words?

The ocean we have off California is cold but one of the most spectacular places to dive in the world! The Channel Islands and the kelp surrounding them are one of a kind and nowhere else can you dive in giant kelp forests and experience the amount of life we see here. If we act as Stewarts of our local ocean and practice sustainable fishing we will be able to enjoy these resources for generations to come. Fish for the Future!


What impact do you want to have in the world?

I would like to continue producing documentaries about marine life and the oceans around the world bringing awareness about conservation and the balance needed between the marine world and fishing. Nature documentaries with a hunter's pov, filled with strategies and know-how, along with conservation. Hunting and conservation go hand in hand. We are the Shepherds of the sea and if we embrace that mentality we can fish responsibly for generations to come.

Connect with Mike.


In Jay’s days of participating in spearfishing competitions, he eventually was saddened by the amount of fish that were taken, both large and small. Jay recognized the devastating effects. There would be none left for the future generations. This shaped his vision to adopt the practice of taking only what is needed for consumption.

“All divers should protect the waters they swim and hunt in, ensuring future divers the experience and excitement of freediving that I’ve had over the past seventy years. I strive to produce high quality, spearfishing and diving equipment capable of handling any condition. Selective Divers set their sights on those few prize fish for consumption. Be Selective, Fish for the Future.”  – Jay Riffe