Welcome to ScubaBoard, an online scuba diving forum community where you can join over 205,000 divers diving from around the world. If the topic is related to scuba diving, this is the place to find divers talking about it. To gain full access to ScubaBoard (and make this large box go away) you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:
Participate in over 500 dive topic forums and browse from over 5,500,000 posts.
Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
Post your own photos or view from well over 100,000 user submitted images.
Gain access to our free classifieds marketplace to buy, sell and trade gear, travel and services.
Use the calendar to organize your events and enroll in other members' events.
Find a dive buddy or communicate directly with scuba equipment manufacturers.
All this and much more is available to you absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!
If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact the ScubaBoard Support Team.
Four of us on a small 9M boat, 8 cameras all hung off on 5M lines, boat on a mooring off a reef that breaches the surface approximately 25Km west of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Sea slightly choppy, bit of wind.
Take the housing with the 105mm lens and drop down to 35M onto some black coral to photograph some longnose hawkfish then back up along the reef to finish the film, change over to the housing with the 60mm lens for the remainder of the dive. Dive time approximately 60 minutes, it was a standard dive pattern and we had all dived this site many times.
One of the divers, Simon, is not a great sailor and was in the water as quick as possible, followed by Tuula (Kevin's wife), who almost surfaced immediately after descending, to tell us that there was shark under the boat, then she descended again.
Kevin threw his tank and BC over board followed by himself, and I jumped off the other side as I was already kitted up.
I descended to the cameras looking around for the shark, but could not see it, viz was around 20M.
Unhooked my 105 and started to descend, at the same time noticed a shoal of barracuda circling, got close for some shiny head shots and then dropped down further to enter the ring. As I looked up I saw the shark, cursing that I did not have the 60 mm lens took some shots anyway then it disappeared and I focussed on closeups of the barracuda.
After a few minutes, the barracuda dispersed and I was in the blue, no sign of the reef or the bottom of any of the shelfs around the reef. I had not noticed that there was some current. At this stage I was at 10M, so I decided to surface in order to get my bearings.
The boat was around 300M away, sea conditions very choppy and windy blowing towards me from the boat direction. I was also about the same distance from the reef and could see waves hitting the exposed areas. Mild panic attack, remember nobody was on the boat.
Fortunately I had a compass. I took a bearing on the reef and decided to swim towards it at around 3-4M depth in order to get out of the weather and perpendicular to the current
When I eventually reached the reef I then swam along side it towards the direction of the boat, sometimes having to hold on to the reef as the current had really picked up. At one stage I was suddenly hit by a mass of bubbles flowing towards me horizontally, they were in fact coming from Tuula, who was also hanging on to the reef, was never so glad to see another human being, I almost kissed her underwater.
The whole "adventure" took 21 minutes according to my log book and I surfaced at the boat with 150 bar.
This was my 626th dive.
From then on my solo dives have been in more conservative areas, usually not deeper than 10-15M and certainly closer to the reef.
The distraction of the barracuda had lead me off course, I was never really worried about the shark (which was a silky btw), but the thought of drifting off out into the middle of the Red Sea had momentarily scared me a bit. Training and experience pulled me through.
Some of these stories are actually validating my initial suspicion, which is that experience generally gives people the poise to cope with even rather distressing problems without panic (defined as an irrational, unproductive or counterproductive action taken out of fear).
I think you're right. I've been diving 30 years and firefighting 20 years. In our fire training we do maze work, where we are in full gear, SCBA, and crawling through tight, complex mazes in zero visability. The more confident we become, the harder we make the course. This teaches us to stop, control our breathing, relax and figure out what to do next. If we get tangeled up in a building on fire, these skills are somewhat digital, i.e. you is or you is not going to make it. We do similar training in PSD.
I think this approach to gradually increasing stress and dealing with it is very effective. I know it's made me a better diver and firefighter. The closest I have come to panic in air or water was getting stuck in a maze on a scorching hot day in full gear. I took a couple minutes to get my 'stuff' together and carried on. The benefit of this training and experience, as well as Zen practice, has given me the ability to not panic in some very demanding situations. Not yet anyway. As others have said, everyone has their breaking point.
However, if you are a diver who doesn't have this sort of training in your life, I think mental exercises in putting yourself in the situations and 'visualizing' and slowly thinking through what you must do is the next best thing. Under stress, we react as we've trained. (or visualized)