Although scuba diving is a wonderful sport and allows us to explore our magnificent and mysterious underwater world, it doesn’t come without its dangers. Thankfully major scuba diving accidents and deaths are generally few and far between, but when these incidents do occur they tend to be concentrated in a few locations that have now become known as ‘dangerous dive locations’. In this article we take a look at some of these infamous dive spots and try to figure out what it is about them that makes them so dangerous.
The Deadliest Dives are Not Always the Deepest
Many people would automatically assume that the deepest or most complicated sites are the riskiest and have seen the most accidents or near-accidents, however, this is not always necessarily the case. Dean’s Blue Hole located in the Bahamas is an exceptionally deep dive spot, but it has far fewer major accident reports when compared to a much shallower Egyptian Blue Hole in Dahab. There’s also the complexity of the dive to consider, but even then the most complicated of cave or wreck dives are not usually the highest ranking when it comes to scuba diving dangers. The HMS Britannic is a case in point – although this ship, which was the sister vessel to the Titanic, lies at a staggering depth of 400 feet, fewer divers have died at this spot in the Mediterranean Sea than have died exploring far easier wrecks.
This phenomenon seems to be apparent in other sports too, for example mountaineering and rock climbing – it’s not always the most difficult climbs that claim the most lives. Many mountaineers consider K2 mountain far more dangerous and difficult than climbing Mount Everest, with only 280 people having ever successfully made it to the top of K2 and a total of 61 people having lost their lives on this difficult climb. In comparison, there have been thousands of people who have managed to reach Everest’s summit and although Everest is actually a far easier climb than that of K2, it has still managed to claim a greater number of lives.
The Lure of Deadly Dive Sites
The fact that these easier climbs or dives tend to show higher fatality rates or incidents can only mean one thing: those attempting the more difficult climbs or dives are highly qualified and highly aware of the dangers set before them. For many of the sites that have claimed so many lives, the people attempting these feats have been less aware of the dangers and probably not as qualified or experienced. Dive sites that are well-known to be difficult, such as the Florida caves and the Britannic wreck, are only attempted by highly qualified divers who are on constant alert knowing that even the smallest mistake could be fatal. Dive sites such as the famous Blue Hole in Dahab attract thousands of visitors, making the site seem more accessible, and giving divers a false sense of security which can lead to fatal errors. Diving accidents also tend to happen when divers stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone and skill set, and at a busy, frequently-visited dive site such as Dahab’s Blue Hole, this is likely to occur more often.
Top Tips for Staying Safe
Although there are a number of deadly dive sites out there, the most successful divers are the careful ones who treat each and every dive site with the amount of respect and preparation that it requires. Problems occur when divers become complacent and try to take shortcuts that disregard the safety techniques originally learned at scuba school. Mistakes happen when divers lose their vigilance, so it’s extremely important to make the necessary checks and take the necessary safety precautions. The habits of a careful, successful diver include a pre-dive check and re-check of all diving equipment as well as a thorough briefing and understanding of the site and the most up-to-date conditions. Divers should always be honest about their diving skills and never dive outside of their comfort zone or qualification – that’s just asking for trouble.