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Diver Death Belize Blue Hole

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by Down2bizDiver, Jul 4, 2014.

  1. Stoo

    Stoo NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Freelton & Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
    3,047
    2,752
    113
    I've been diving the BH each year for the past five, first with TIR and more recently, with Huracan. (And once about 25 years ago...) Until recently, I found "the dive" moderately terrifying... Not because of the dive, but because I was surrounded by a bunch of inexperienced, unqualified, under-equipped divers who spent a good chunk of the dive, narked out of their gourds, jocking for a position to have their photo taken.

    It wasn't until this most recent trip with Huracan that I truly enjoyed it. Most of the diving I do at home is in the 100' - 170' range, and in bone-chilling cold. But... I always dive there with some form of redundancy.

    Two years ago, I saw the potential for the BH to be a very cool dive, since we were out there and finished diving just as the other boats were arriving. This last trip, I packed a stage kit, and rigged a spare 80, as did my friend. (We were a group of five, plus DM and two of us carried stages.) For the first time, I enjoyed myself immensely, got some great shots, and did so with a significant margin of safety. Our profile was 156' for 55 minutes.

    It really isn't surprising that there have been a number of fatalities at this site. It really is way beyond what many should be diving...
     
  2. themagni

    themagni Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Canada's Pacific Southwest, BC
    431
    171
    43
    Other than running a dive to 150'+ with equipment specced for 80'? ... no.

    I mean, you'll probably live and probably won't have to visit a chamber. Ultimately it's your body, your call.
     
  3. brnt999

    brnt999 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Calgary, Canada
    133
    40
    28
    I dove the Blue Hole last February. I had just gotten my AOW and it was about my 30th dive. Contrary to what many say I enjoyed it. In fact the trip ( the 3 dive excursion) was the high lite of a 5 week diving trip. The visibility was great, there were 7 reef sharks cruising around, and the dive operator was knowledgeable and safe.
     
    chillyinCanada and ibj40 like this.
  4. ibj40

    ibj40 Divemaster

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Texas
    2,346
    1,557
    113
    Well the picture of the shark at depth makes me want to go back and do it again. Maybe they'll be there this time, last time I dove it they were just hovering around 75 feet or so.

    And what equipment do I dive with that has an 80 foot limit?

    Thanks!
     
  5. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    25,636
    17,115
    113
    It really doesn't matter how fast you as an individual can go deep. The dives are tightly controlled, and you must stay with the group. That means you must descend at whatever rate works for the group. When I have done the dive, there is an initial descent to a relatively shallow depth to make sure everyone is ready to go and to weed out anyone who can't equalize well enough to make the final descent. After it is clear that everyone is ready to go, the group begins the real descent. I do not believe the diver would have been anywhere near the bottom in two minutes.

    As for oxygen toxicity, if the diver were accidentally diving EANx 32 and got all the way to 130 feet, that diver would still be within the contingency limit (1.6 PPO2) for that mix. Moreover, there is a time factor in your exposure--you don't just go past the "safe" limit for a few seconds and seize. In fact, according to a standard single dive oxygen exposure table (the "CNS clock"), there is not enough gas in an AL80 for a diver with excellent air consumption to get into the danger zone on this dive. Of course, CNS is not totally predictable, but for this to be an oxygen toxicity event would be extraordinarily unlikely.
     
    shoredivr and chillyinCanada like this.
  6. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    7,991
    5,223
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    brnt999, I wasn't there to observe the conditions for your dive, so I'll speak generally. An ill-advised dive in potentially dangerous conditions may go 'fine' much of the time. I would think this would be the case with Belize Blue Hole dives, since the practice of taking rather inexperienced people on very deep dives there keeps getting reported on this forum. As long as everyone has no problems, it's all good.

    So what happens with someone nervous and new gets low on air but can't equalize going up? Reverse block can bring the pain; I've had that twice, and that's twice too many times. Or someone else gets narc'd? Or worse yet, both things happen simultaneously?

    No dive op. can be ready for every conceivable scenario, and I don't know the details of how your dive was conducted or with what divers, so maybe it was fine. But there are reasons some folks are concerned about the reports we hear.
     
  7. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    25,636
    17,115
    113
    PADI released an official statement a year ago calling upon Belize to do something about the practice of taking unqualified people to the Blue Hole. For those of you wondering why PADI does not do something itself, it is because they really have no legal standing to do anything about it, and they do not want it. Despite the fact that they are often called an agency, that is not an accurate use of the term as it is used in the legal world. Neither PADI nor any other agency has any real control over what a shop does in the day-to-day operations. It is up to either local governments to make rules or for (more hopefully) local shops to agree to some set of standards for their operations.

    I believe that if the operators in Belize would get together and agree on a set of standards for diving the Blue Hole, that would solve the problem, but it does not seem to be in the works. I suspect that the problem is a fear that if all but one or two shops agreed to limit access to more qualified divers, the one or two shops not in agreement would get a lot more business and the others would potentially fail. It seems to me that it is possible that if the shops in general would adopt a policy along the lines of requiring at least AOW (or more), they could set things up so that people who want to do the Blue Hole could schedule the trip at the end of their dive week while getting the appropriate certification earlier. Maybe that would generate enough revenue to overcome the loss of BH divers who are willing to do the dive without the qualifications. I don't know.

    By the way, from what I read, this incident does not seem to me to be related to the difficulty of the diver or the diver's qualifications for it.
     
    Hawkwood and chillyinCanada like this.
  8. flots am

    flots am Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wherever you go in life, that's where you are.
    3,226
    1,863
    113
    People have toxed with less. The level for O2 Toxicity is effected by C02, exercise, drugs, and a number of other factors.
     
    Mr. Black likes this.
  9. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    25,636
    17,115
    113
    Really? I wold like to see some information about people getting O2 toxicity in two minutes of diving within the standard PPO2 limits. Can you provide a link?
     
  10. flots am

    flots am Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wherever you go in life, that's where you are.
    3,226
    1,863
    113
    There are some papers on the DAN website including a guy who toxed @ 1.3. It turns out that the Cialis and similar drugs increase susceptibility.
     

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