Valentine Thomas: The Spearfishing, Freediving, & Fresh Ceviche Queen

If you’re a fan of spearfishing or serving up great food straight from the source, then chances are you’ve heard of the multi-talented Valentine Thomas. She’s a French-Canadian professional spearfisher-woman, 170-foot freediver, teacher, author, and influencer who is a superstar in an often male-dominated sports realm.

Valentine doesn’t just curate pretty pictures for social media — although there’s plenty of that, too! — she uses her instagram account and other social channels to inspire positive change. In addition to being an incredible fisherman and advocate of sustainable eating, she also has a knack for inspiring self-confidence and prioritizing personal wellness. And she knows why this is such a valuable endeavor: The Canadian born and trained lawyer worked in the fast-paced finance industry for six years before embarking on an entirely new career path of spearfishing.

Leaving a stable, successful career behind for one of an ocean wise professional traveller and spear fishing guru couldn’t have been an easy step, but it has certainly paid off! Now, Valentine is a world record holder and sustainable fishing representative — not to mention an incredible chef! — who has inspired thousands of ocean lovers to be mindful of their relationships with nature. Just check out her website to see more about all the incredible ways in which she’s sharing her skills and knowledge with the world.

And stick around here to learn more about how this Saltsy Sea Star got started in the spearfishing industry and created a career out of her passion, plus get the scoop on her famous (and one of our favorites!) ceviche recipe.

Valentine Thomas on beach with a fish thrown over her shoulder
Photo credit: Valentine Thomas Facebook

How Valentine Discovered Her Love for Spearfishing

Valentine hasn’t always been one with the water. After a near-drowning experience at age 14, Valentine was once deathly afraid of the open ocean. This dangerous underwater tumble caused her to lose consciousness, and it kept her away from the sea for over ten years. It wasn’t until years later she was able to face her fear and develop a newfound love and respect for the offshore world.

Interestingly, her path to spearfishing didn’t begin in the water, though — it began on her dinner plate. Valentine wanted to know more about the origins of the food that she was cooking, and how to begin sustainably and healthfully obtaining food for herself as a hunter. This deeper connection with hunting enhanced both her relationship with food and herself as a human being in the natural world.

The idea of pursuing spearfishing for a living came shortly after being hired to be in a documentary for a French TV channel about her then double-life of weekdays working in finance and weekends hunting her own food. Valentine was immediately drawn to the intentional approach of spearfishing.

Unlike mass fisheries, spearfishing ensures targeting fish of mature size, in-season, and being caught without any bycatch. It’s truly one of the most sustainable methods of harvesting seafood on the planet. With this knowledge as inspiration, it wasn’t long before Valentine had honed her spearfishing skills to the point that she could make a full time career out of it. 

Valentine Thomas floating/freediving underwater in a school of fish
Photo credit: Valentine Thomas Facebook

She Holds Her Breath for How Long?

As you can plainly see through Valentine’s goggles, spearfishing is an intensely meditative experience. Not only does this sport allow you obtain your own fresh, nourishing food straight from the source, but spearfishing also challenges you mentally and physically.

One of the steps required to becoming a successful spear-fisherman is to also become a competent free diver. Freediving is performed without the use of oxygen tanks and instead requires divers to hold their breath for extended periods. It’s in this stillness that the fisherman becomes camouflaged against the scenery, allowing fish to get close enough for a successful shot.

While anyone can improve how long they can hold their breath with time and training, Valentine has truly mastered this skill: She can now hold her breath for 5 minutes and 44 seconds!

The Meditative Side of Spearfishing: Although the everyday ocean adventurer may never reach the six-minute mark in their breath holding, there is still plenty of value in practicing breath work.

While being submerged underwater, you must focus on your breath and slow your heart rate. Not only does this increase the likelihood of spearfishing success, there are also several health benefits attributed to the conscious, meditative practice of slowing down your breath like improving focus, harnessing self-control, and reducing anxiety.

It’s also a great lesson in patience — which, let’s be honest, we could all use! Even the smallest fish can move with much more grace than a human can in water, so it is an extremely humbling experience to forego the strength and agility you have on land in order to successfully hunt in an underwater environment.

Valentine’s Famous Ceviche Recipe

Although there’s so much about Valentine Thomas to highlight, one of our favorite things about her is her passion for serving up some seriously delicious seafood. If you follow @ValentineThomas on Instagram or her blog, you’ll already know that no one can turn a fresh, big fish into a home-cooked meal with just a few simple ingredients quite like she does.

One of her most popular recipes — and one of our personal favorites here at Saltsy — is ceviche. You can find the full recipe for Valentine Thomas’s famous ceviche on her website, but it is so delicious, that we had to share it here too.

Here are the ingredients*:

  • 600g of diced white fish
  • 3 big limes juiced (or 4 small ones)
  • 1 Meyer lemon’s juice (or half of a juiced orange)
  • ½ diced big red onion
  • 1 large handful of cilantro
  • 1 finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 bag of corn chips

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Serve the ceviche with your favorite chips

*As she notes on her recipe, the alternative ingredients you can add are nearly limitless and can be a fun way to mix of the flavor or your ceviche. Consider including or swapping some of these ingredients for mango, pineapple, bell peppers, celery, avocado, tomatoes, coconut milk, chili flakes, cucumber, a little bit of sea salt — or pretty much any other fruit or vegetables you would like!

It’s that simple, yet it is so delicious that you have to try it for yourself.

Saltsy pro tip: Ceviche is one of the easiest ways (and tastiest!) to serve up your fresh catch, but not only should you add it to your list for easy meals at home, it also makes an excellent snack for a day on the boat. Before we head out for a day of fishing, we like to mix all of my ingredients ahead of time…minus the fish, which hopefully comes into the picture before lunchtime. Once we reel in a keeper, we’ll fillet and dice it right on the boat, toss it into the premixed ingredients, and voila — fresh ceviche on the water!

– Kim, Saltsy Founder

Thanks Valentine, not only for being an amazing Sea Star who is paving the way for women in the world of spearfishing and sustainable eating, but also for making wild food a lot more fun and delicious.

Have you made any of Valentine’s fresh seafood recipes? We’d love to hear about your different creations in the comments or on the @SaltsyCo Instagram page!

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Author: saltsy

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