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Death in Cocos from shark attack

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by BDSC, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. mmmbelows

    mmmbelows Regular of the Pub

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    2 people involved in this, I don't think they were swimming on top of each other to appear like one giant turtle from below- divemaster recognized the need to intercede with the tiger before it attacked either of them so doubt the tiger was zooming in from below...
     
    shamanrx likes this.
  2. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
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    We should be mindful a bang stick is basically a modified gun and routinely carrying them around on dives could in theory risk accidents or malfunctions with discharge and injury. And odds of a staff being well placed to fend off a shark in that setting - wonder what those are?

    I’m not a big fan of gun control as sometimes conceptualized, but I recognize there’s a risk. Since a bang stick-preventable shark attack seems rare, hard to say a bang stick would make people safer.

    Richard.
     
    Beth3141 and shamanrx like this.
  3. shamanrx

    shamanrx Angel Fish

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    Right I get that, and I do not want to kill sharks and definitely do not think hunting down the sharks for some sort of retribution or to catch the guilty shark is good, effective, or even possible. I guess what I was getting was if a limited lethal defense in limited hands (so only the dive masters) of some sort might be the right idea.

    The last time I went to Cocos, there were reports of a large female tiger charging people on the night dives, and they had only recently started letting the Manuelita night dives happen again.

    I'm purely speculating. We don't really have enough information yet to make informed decisions on our own though. Is there some sort of behavioral change we can make as divers in what we wear and how we position ourselves. I had the impression that the shark came from below, at least from all the articles I read. How close was she and the dive master? I don't think a duo would be as likely to create a turtle silhouette, I think it is more likely that a single person with arms out at a viewing angle from almost directly below would be the proper setup to confuse the shark. Again, pure speculation.
     
  4. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

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    It depends a lot upon which island and your boat. When I was there, I was on an old, tippy, tub that was a last minute substitute (never understood why) for the nice, new, stable boat we were supposed to have. At one point in our trip we were warned that we were 24 hours away from medical help, and that help would come when our boat got to it. They emphasized that during the 48 hour round trip, all the guests would not be able to do the dives for which they had paid a lot of money, and they would be very angry about it. The message was loud and clear; "Think you might have DCS symptoms but aren't really sure? Keep it to yourself!"

    That has nothing to do with sharks, of course, but it does speak to the remoteness of the site.
     
    jake11 likes this.
  5. shamanrx

    shamanrx Angel Fish

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    Good points, I agree. It's the classic gun dilemma. Does the tool create more danger than it is protecting us from? At the rate that shark attacks on divers do happen, your concern is probably well founded.
     
  6. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

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    The bang stick would be best at protecting the DM. You would have to be close enough to the DM to have that protection extended to you. On many or most of our dives in Cocos, many of us were far enough from the DM that no help would have been possible, including at Manualita. I don't see this as a viable option.

    What great advertising this would be for trips to Cocos. There are Tiger Sharks there so we have armed your DM with a bang stick. All you have to do is stay close enough that you can be protected. Sorry, that's not the way many of us dive when we do a trip like this. I'm going to Galapagos in April
     
    shamanrx likes this.
  7. shamanrx

    shamanrx Angel Fish

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    Ya you're right. I mean there is no way dive groups stay together all dive every dive, and most dives end with dive buddies doing safety and surfacing together. On some sites we did whole group ascents, but definitely not at Manuelita.
     
  8. mmmbelows

    mmmbelows Regular of the Pub

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    Well I hope you two never dive on a mixed boat with spear divers armed with spear guns, or somebody with a dive knife, or dive from a boat with an outboard motor. You're probably fine with those around, but because a powerhead has gun powder it's scary, scary time.

    Divemaster wants to carry a powerhead with him on dives, so be it, I'd be worried about him having a powerhead with him as I'd be of his having a compass.
     
  9. HalcyonDaze

    HalcyonDaze Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Miami
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    The smallest tiger shark I even encountered while diving was probably about 8 ft in length and probably weighed as much as I did with all my dive gear; the biggest one was maybe 15 ft and at a minimum probably outweighed me by 1200 pounds. There's no reason for an apex predator that size to "fear" a diver unless they've learned divers are a mortal threat to the shark that will actively try to kill it. They may not consider us regular prey or may think we're too big to go down without a fight, but they're not going to flee the area upon seeing us.

    On that note, bang sticks for DM's are probably more of a hazard on the boat than sharks. That is a firearm, but as I understand unlike say a handgun or a speargun there's not a trigger - if the safety is off, the cartridge fires when it hits something hard enough. Think of all the ways that could happen on a deck full of divers getting geared up, getting in and out of tenders, or during a group dive ... and unlike a shark, a customer getting injured by the DM's bang stick would be an easy lawsuit.
     
    RaiKai and shamanrx like this.
  10. shamanrx

    shamanrx Angel Fish

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    Personal attacks add nothing to the conversation, especially by insinuating we are scared of anything dangerous. I spear fish, I use dive knives, I know not to puree myself on an outboard, I mean hell, I drive a car! basically the most dangerous thing any of us do. When someone dies in a car accident we ask the basic questions, were they wearing a seatbelt, was that intersection safely designed, was the other driver impaired, stuff like that. It is poor form to attack people trying to talk out an issue or idea.

    All things with inherit danger and power require certain precautions and training to use them safely, including bangsticks. In an earlier post I said I was leaning towards the option of arming the DMs with them. But on the statistical scale does that make sense? What happens when/if people are hurt/killed at a greater rate due to bangsticks than from shark attacks? Just because someone is a capable/safe gun user doesn't mean everyone will be. Save yourself some stress and don't jump to conclusions anytime someone speaks about safety concerns surrounding gunpowder weapons. I am certainly not advocating to take your guns away.

    The whole point of all my questions is to get the the root cause of the victims death. Was is pure bad luck? Was there attack attracting gear or behavior on her part? Could this attack have been deterred with a countermeasure like a bangstick or electronic shark repellent? Would a larger group of divers been enough to deter an attack?

    I know I want to go back to Cocos, I want to see the tiger sharks there, and I want to do it as safely as possible. Sometimes doing nothing different is the best option, but if the scuba community doesn't reflect and talk about rare issues like this from all angles then we can never be sure we are doing the right thing.
     

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