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Death in Cocos from shark attack

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

  1. John the Pom

    John the Pom Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney, Australia
    Chain mail creates its own hazard since it is a weight system that cannot be easily dumped. Ron and Val Taylor wrote a good account of using chain mail to protect against shark bites, and personally I would rather take my chances with the sharks!

    I have witnessed two divers attacked by sharks during my time underwater. In both cases they were "harmless" species and in both cases it was entirely the diver's own fault. Neither incident resulted in anything worse than a very shaken-up diver, but one could have turned quite nasty.
  2. dmaziuk

    dmaziuk Regular of the Pub

    Aside from the weight vs. cost vs. strength, mail work great against slashing cuts. It would work for small sharks where the main danger is getting a major blood vessel opened/nerves and/or tendons severed by teeth. And even then you'll have puncture wounds.

    That particular shark's a nutcracker, so...
  3. Not to mention the logistics of getting one through airport security and just generally transporting what is essentially a type of firearm freely without security/police taking a very dim view of it. Bang sticks just have 'industrial accident' written all over them, that 'solution' just ain't gonna happen on any live aboard!
  4. John Bantin

    John Bantin Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: London
    A true anecdote I want to share:
    Today, I was serving a young woman at Mikes Dive Store who said she had wanted to go to Cocos but had I heard what just happened there? I said, yes it was very sad but she should not be afraid. I'd been there eight times. In fact she was looking at someone who had twice been grabbed by a tiger shark and swum off with. She looked at me in disbelief but at that very moment a curtain of a changing cubicle was drawn back and another beautiful young woman stylishly wearing a Waterproof wetsuit announced, "It's true. I saw it. I was there!" Perfect timing. Thank you Louisa Fisher from Original Diving!
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  5. Joneill

    Joneill ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: New Jersey, USA
    Curious - what did the divers do that made the attacks their own fault?
  6. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba


    A ScubaBoard Staff Message...

    The A&I forums are about accidents not about theory spinning and arm chair legal speculations. Please keep your comments on topic
    Jack Hammer likes this.
  7. tarponchik

    tarponchik Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: USA
    Judging by Ms Fisher's looks, she even wasn't born yet when this alleged attack happened :)
  8. mmmbelows

    mmmbelows Regular of the Pub

    I may have missed it but last time I check I still haven't seen a liveaboard come through the security line at the airport.
  9. DiveTheGalapagos

    DiveTheGalapagos ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    So no one has heard any more details about this shocking tragedy?

    1) Was she at the surface or on the way up? Was she was at the surface and thrashing about? One of the links said the skiff driver was trying to assist. That makes me think it was at the surface. Was he pulling her in? If yes, then she was probably thrashing at the surface. No question in my mind you are more vulnerable at the surface than at depth. And the more you thrash, the more attention it draws.

    2) Was there anything anyone had making some sort of unusual sound? The only time I have seen aggressive behavior (out of thousands of sharks, but no Tigers) was due to a metal on metal rubbing.

    I noticed in the lengthy Tiger video off FL early in this thread, they were using a bag with some sort of noise maker and the shark was staying close. Squeezing an empty plastic water bottle will attract sharks, so I debate the natural curiosity of the shark in that video. Good shots, but...

    Predation makes no sense to me. She suffered lacerations, not lost limbs, etc. Operator has a good reputation. There is no chumming in Cocos. She had already dived Galapagos which tells me she was experienced and had dived with sharks.

    Someone elsewhere heard the tiger was spotted coming up and she shot for the surface by herself, away from the group safety stop. It's the first thing I've heard that makes any sense in terms of why her, even though it is just hearsay. Still doesn't explain the DM also being bit unless he just got in the way.

    What I assume to be true just because of my experience to date doesn't mean it will always be true. Ala the bear in the woods analogy. I've seen large schools of hammerheads in shallow 85 degree water which defies the stereotype that the warmer the water, the deeper the hammerheads. And the first Tiger fatality in Cocos in spite of how many divers are there every week and have been for years.

    Always heard it was best to aim for the gills if you have to defend yourself. Wookie's recommendation to use your octopus to aim bubbles at a shark makes sense to me.
  10. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    The only basis for staff bearing bang sticks is the presumption some sharks pose a sufficiently serious & reasonably foreseeable risk of serious injury or death to customers, and staff are obligated to guard them against this threat. Consider how that would play out:

    1.) Customers have to stay near staff to be protected.
    2.) If staff are obligated to protect them, nearness becomes obligatory.
    3.) From what we've read in this thread, the customer base would choose competitors rather than dive with this restriction.
    4.) Putting enough staff in the water for this would likely require considerably more staff, raising live-aboard costs and cutting down room to board as many customers.
    5.) Therefore, it's not workable, even if there are no legal restrictions prohibiting such devices in this area (anyone know about that?).
    6.) With travel restrictions, it's likely not feasible for customers to bring in their own bang sticks.

    So, if anyone stumbles across this thread and wonders whether this woman's death was a result of boat staff negligently not providing a force of armed body guards to fight off sharks, hopefully by now even a non-diver understands the answer is NO!!!

    On the chainmail question, assuming such suits can be found & purchased by the general public, and if airlines wouldn't prohibit them (I don't know why they would), then divers (if any) who want them are free to buy them & wear them diving in Cocos, yes?

    In the spirit of responding to this accident with an eye toward preventing future ones, and given that at least some years back it was said there were 5 tiger sharks in the area (so presumably they recognized individuals), I have these questions:

    If, with a decent confidence level, the shark that killed her is identified, and thought to be one that hangs around the region (not a migrant passing through), what approach should be taken? Should someone (e.g.: volunteer boat staff, outside shark experts, diving rangers, whatever) try to...

    a.) Do nothing. Let the shark randomly encounter future divers and hope nothing bad happens.
    b.) Warn regional live-aboard op.s, teach staff to recognize this particular shark and 'keep an eye on it' if it shows up.
    c.) Have armed divers enter the water nearby and watch to see how it reacts. If it approaches in a manner judged concerning, kill it. If not, back to a.) or b.).
    d.) Kill it.


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