But the refugee crisis has changed their priorities. Now, they save migrants in danger of drowning while trying to reach Europe.
When a migrant boat approaches, harbour officials alert the divers who have so far conducted out about 180 search and rescue operations — sometimes in stormy weather.
“We are located on the eastern side of the island … where refugees coming from the Turkish coast usually arrive,” Nikos Tsumakis, a member of the Samos diving club, explained to Euronews’ Valerie Gauriat.
Despite being unpaid volunteers, the divers are on call 24 hours a day and have already rescued 1,800 people and recovered 49 bodies.
“When we go to help refugees and find dead children, in their eyes we see the souls and eyes of our own children,” said diver Stelios Hatziandreou, who has three daughters.
“It is very tough but … we will continue.”