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I have no facts. I would GUESS it would be somewhat safer to be diving in mid ocean 100' below the surface when a Tsunami comes, as compared to standing at the the low tide shore mark waiting for it to come ashore. I am positive the safest place on Earth to be would be anywhere on land that the Tsunami cannot reach.
Safest place? How about Mile High Stadium in Denver? (I think base camp at Everest has some sanitation issues and risk of altitude sickness.)
As Roatanman said, there were divers in the water--I read about some in the Maldives who got quite a ride. It depends on the amplitude of the wave that passes over you, which depends, to an extent, on the topography of the ocean floor. A devastating tsunami might only have an amplitude of 30 centimeters or less in deep open water and it is only when it reaches shallower water that it gains amplitude. So a kayak in mid-ocean might be safe, blue-water diving might be safe, beach diving, not so safe.
Edit: From Undercurrent, accounts from divers in the Boxing Day tsunami (emphasis added):
The Lavenders had unknowingly scuba-dived through a tsunami. It was now hammering their vacation spot, the resort town of Beruwala on the western coast of Sri Lanka, gobbling up homes and boats and people, pulling them all back into the Indian Ocean and then flinging them back at the town again and again, killing hundreds.
Suddenly, it all made sense to the novice divers, the way they’d had to fight the torrential current at the bottom — like a “hurricane underwater,” was how Warren described it. Sixty feet below the surface, his mask was ripped off. It was all they could do to hold on to coral to avoid being sucked away. Warren said, “I remember thinking, ‘Gee; I could really learn to hate this sport.’”
Ironic as it seems, the safest place to be in a tsunami may well be in the ocean itself. It may be safer still to be beneath the surface: as divers we’ve all experienced how, on a rough day on the dive boat, it’s much more comfortable once you’re down below the surface of the water. And a tsunami at sea doesn’t reach great heights; the immense waves don’t form till the tsunami starts to reach shallow water and roll up against the ocean floor.
Last edited by vladimir; October 13th, 2011 at 11:54 PM.
“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.” ― Lewis Carroll
Much of what is posted here is in jest, and is not intended to be taken seriously. The sarcasm is often so subtle it's hard to detect.
"...gobbling up homes and boats and people, pulling them all back into the Indian Ocean and then flinging them back at the town again and again, killing hundreds."
I wonder exactly how far the debris is pulled out into the ocean. It would seems that if the situation was right (a wall dive where the shelf is relatively close to the shore) you could start to see parts of houses, or a fleet of tuk-tuks come raining down on you. Terrifying and surreal.