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A diver exploring a reef

10 Ways to Die Diving


If you can read that the chances are you’re not a fish - or even a clever one like a Dolphin which, technically, isn’t a fish but an aquatic mammal- the point is that us humans can’t live a happy, fulfilling life under water, any more than a fish could read this, or ‘The Communist Manefesto’. The only way you’re going to get a flavour of subaquatic existence is to either buy a submarine, which is just cheating, or learn how to scuba dive. But as every aquaphobe knows, scuba diving is very, very dangerous and there’s a host of things that can go fatally wrong…You want to know how wrong? Read on at your peril (especially if you’re about to go scuba diving).

1. Sharks

You could get eaten by a great white Shark or similar. Not a great way to go.

2. Stung

Or stung by something, like a Sting Ray, Box Jelly (not to be confused with fruit jellies in boxes) or Lion Fish. And Moray Eels, Sea Snakes, Cone Snails, Stone Fish, Blue-Ringed Octopi…You get the picture.

3. Stranded

That film when that scuba diving couple are left bobbing about in the ocean after their boat does one back to shore before collecting them and they’re never found? It’s a true story.

4. Air Embolism

If you hold your breath too long, or surface too quickly your alveoli, or air sacs in your lungs, can rupture allowing the air to enter your arteries and cause either a stroke, heart attack or respiratory failure -you can’t pick and choose by the way and, no, this isn’t another word for ‘the bends’.

5. The Bends

Also known as Decompression sickness or Caisson Disease. As you descend into the murky depths the nitrogen in your body loses pressure. Return to the surface too fast and the nitrogen will suddenly increase in pressure, without a chance to leave the bloodstream in a civilised manner it forms air bubbles and converts the divers blood into a five litre can of soda. It’s more than just incredibly painful, it can turn you into fish food.

6. Nitrogen Narcosis, or ‘rapture of the deep’

It’s our old pal Nitrogen again, but this time the symptoms associated with it can be construed as rather pleasant, go below 30 metres and the nitrogen can make you feel a bit drunk, and, depending on your depth, the mix of gasses in the tank and the person in receipt of it, very,very drunk indeed Sounds like fun, right? Well not if you think the surface is in the opposite direction its not, you’re making life or death decisions like you’re on a Friday night bender, are you insane?

7. Oxygen Toxicity or Oxygen Intoxication

No, not Nitrogen this time but lovely life-giving oxygen, or is it? Well, you can have too much of a good thing folks, go below 57 meters and the partial pressure of oxygen can cause hyperoxia which basically means you’ve too much oxygen in your body and you’re going to die, well maybe. First there’s the vomiting, fainting and seizures to contend with, all of which can result in common or garden drowning. Happy days I don’t think.

8. Equipment

Own your own gear do you? I’m sure it’s in top-notch nick… Or perhaps you’re hiring it for a day. It’ll be fine I’m sure, well it had better be because if it isn’t you’re toast. End of. There’s a lot of stuff to be worried about here, it’s not just the mask, suit and your flippers, consider the delicate balancing act of the weights and the most-likely-to-do-you fragility of that regulator. Don’t even get me started on contaminated air tanks. It’s all bad.

9. Health

The thing about water is that you only have to go a few feet down to subject your body to pressures unknown on dry land, and it’s exponential, the lower you go the greater the pressure, and as we’ve seen going up isn’t always much fun either. I’ll give it to you straight, if you’re fond of doner kebabs and six-pint lunchtimes scuba diving isn’t for you, or anyone for that matter.

10. Stuck in a tree

It’s not all about water when you’re diving. Er, one day Fire Authorities’ in a forest in California -located over 20 kms from the nearest lake- found a the charred remains of diver, with all the gear, in a tree! They soon figured out he’d gotten there, earlier a fleet of helicopters with water buckets had been called on to put out some blaze and the hapless diver, minding his own business in lake whatever, had been swept-up and dumped into the burning trees. Can you imagine that! Awful*

*Might not be true, actually it’s not but the other stuff is -so leave scuba diving to the foolhardy and reckless.

by James Dwelly