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Diver missing in the Bahamas

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by bandit_TX, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. HalcyonDaze

    HalcyonDaze Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Miami
    I've seen tigers in some of the Shark Addicts' videos nosing scooters while on the bottom - hard to say if it's the electrical current or the yellow color that gets their attention. Saturday I saw one nuzzling a diver's tank much like a dog sniffing along the floor. They're definitely curious critters.

    You have to feel for the diver's family, regardless of the circumstances. I've only encountered one diver fatality - a heart attack on a Great Barrier Reef liveaboard. 40 miles out to sea, unless the boat is very well equipped you're pretty much done for. Being in the cabin when his wife was given the news by the paramedics is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
  2. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
    Neal has attempted to paint Abernethy as the ONLY Dive Operator in the Bahamas that engages in the dangerous practice of Cageless Shark diving.....and in his many recent news media interviews, he claims that Abernethy :" does not operate under the Bahamas Diving Associations shark diving procedures and protocols that have been established to ensure safe interactive shark diving experiences..." .....

    I find it amazing that Watson has not been corrected in this, as I understand the vast majority of the Bahamian Dive Association members ARE actively involved in "Cageless Shark dives" with large sharks, including Tiger Sharks and Bull Sharks and Lemons.
    This would suggest to me that Watson is attempting to lie about Abernethy, in an attempt to steal a large market share of Dive Tourists (given the stage of News media interest in anything Shark related} ....
    This most recent series of mis-truths, began with the Watson "claim" that the Shearwater had been conducting a Nightdive when the diver went missing ( we all know now this was an afternoon dive! )...I have seen no retraction or apology for his comments on Shearwater losing a diver on a Nighttime shark dive--with all of his suggestions about the danger Shearwater was developing for its divers....

    And now it would seem even more repugnant to the Bahamian Dive Association members, and to the Trust, that Neil Watson is showing a pattern of using the death of a diver, to further his own apparent ambition - of kicking American Liveaboards out of the Bahamas---which I expect most of us will assume is Watson's dream of gaining a windfall increase in market share for shark diving, by not having to compete with Abernethy or others American operators--even in his own association!!!

    There has been no apology or retraction by Watson of any of his mis-directed claims about the incident, and no truthfulness about the News that the diver's tank and BC and camera and mask were all found in a neat line, and that the BC was unbuckled. You would think that Watson would consider it important News for Shark Conservation the world over...and for Bahamian Tourism, to mention that sharks don't usually unbuckle a diver's BC....and that the recent results of the investigation point toward a medically related cause.

    A far as I know, Watson is still calling for the Bahamian Government to kick Abernethy and the other American boats out of the Bahamas---even after he must certainly know that the reasons he listed to them were entirely fictitious.

    Instead of making an apology, Watson is using the death of a diver, like a bonanza he can use in this marketing war that he is one-sidedly waging, against Abernethy....

    In one of the last News interviews I saw that Watson sensationalized with, he mentions the high end photographer and pro photographer market that Abernethy has developed, and suggests how irresponsible it is for a dive operation to cater to these interests...Douglas, how would you respond to the way that Watson is painting this ?

  3. Grouperdawg

    Grouperdawg Angel Fish

    I've read through all eight pages on this thread bc a friend of the victim sent it to me, some of the comments are just concerning. Sharks like any wild animals may display consistent patterns but can also be completely unpredictable, I know a small handful of people who have been attacked by sharks including myself in June and even though you have not seen aggressive behavior doesn't mean it doesn't happen. When I was attacked I surrendered the fish I shot immediately but the shark attacked me three times and completely ignored the fish.

    Shark feeds may be cool and provide an adrenaline rush or ego boost or a photo op but you are changing the behavior of a killing machine. Sharks come in just from the sound of the boat because they know dinner is on its way. Whether or not this makes sharks more dangerous to humans I don't know, but I don't know it doesn't and while we will never know exactly what happened here, the likelihood is that he was killed by a shark on a shark feeding.

    I remember one of my first trips on my boat to the Bahamas years ago I jumped in the water bc the anchor was skipping on the bottom and a shark literally came out of no where and tried to eat the anchor, crazy.

    With regard to the Indianapolis and sharks mostly going after corpses, he is an exert from somebody who was there, must have been terrifying

    The day wore on and the sharks were around, hundreds of them. You'd hear guys scream, especially late in the afternoon. Seemed like the sharks were the worst late in the afternoon than they were during the day. Then they fed at night too. Everything would be quiet and then you'd hear somebody scream and you knew a shark had got him.
  4. Doug Kahle

    Doug Kahle Angel Fish

    # of Dives:
    Location: West Palm Beach
    At GrouperDawg:

    As Net Doc noted, this is where the hypocrisy enters the picture.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the best way to attract sharks is by spear-fishing. In fact, we usually have 1 or 2 spear guns with us in addition to the bait crates. The struggling fish really gets the sharks jacked-up. Perhaps its the fresh food and that's also why some of the sharks spit out our previously frozen chum; or, a struggling and thrashing fish is far more consistent with the shark's evolution, i.e., they instinctively know that dinner is near when a fish is struggling and thrashing and they get really excited. So, we almost always spear fish in addition to the bait crates.

    And, the last serious bite in Palm Beach County was on a spearo with a recently shot or dead fish in his possession.

    So, have you attempted to make spear-fishing illegal? If not, why not? There is no doubt that the spearos have changed shark behavior -- why is this ok? Clearly, spearing is more dangerous than shark feeding; why are you not trying to stop it?

    Let the hypocrisy begin.

    I assume you agree that Mr. Petty knew the risk of shark feeding; and, that he clearly accepted that risk by booking a trip on the Shear Water. Am I correct? If yes, why is that a problem? As I've stated above, there is no doubt in my mind that someone will get bit and die on our shark feeding dives in Florida; it's inevitable; but, we all know the risk and we accept it.

    Sharks are not killing machines. If they were, there would be a lot more deaths and bites. It is a very rare occurrence -- especially a bite to a diver.

    You state that it is likely that Mr. Petty was killed by a shark. Completely disagree. In all the years at Tiger Beach and with all the numerous dive operators putting divers in the water with big sharks and chum, only one death has occurred -- Mr. Groh in February 2008. That's it. Only one! Thus, being in the water with sharks and chum does not appear to be that dangerous at all; if it were, there would be a lot more serious bites and deaths. But, again, only one!

    Bringing the Indianapolis into this discussion is ridiculous; as is any situation not involving a diver. Sharks are looking for things splashing on the surface of the water; things that splash on the surface are dying, wounded, or land animals that got washed out to sea, i.e., all easy meals.

    Note: In one of the recent articles I read on this matter, one of the family members or friends stated that Mr. Petty researched everything; thus, Mr. Petty clearly knew what he was getting himself into and the risk. Do you agree?

    One more note: In my posts above, I predicted that a motorcyclist would die within the next 7 to 10 days somewhere between Jupiter and Miami. I heard on the news this morning that there was a motorcycle death in I think Lake Worth last night; why is this ok and no movement to ban motorcycles? Because people accept the risk of riding a motorcycle and they are free to make their own decisions? And, I will predict that within the next 7 to 10 days, another motorcyclist will die somewhere between Jupiter and Miami.

    Also, I reaffirm my prediction that at least one diver will die next week during mini-season. Mini-season has got to be one of the most dangerous events not only in Florida but the world. At least 25 to 30 deaths in the last 10 years. Why is this ok and in the words of the FWC apparently not a "public safety issue"? Anyone trying to get it banned? If not, why not?
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
  5. wspalding

    wspalding Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Grafton, MA
    Since it appears Dr. Petty removed his gear, I kind of wonder whether he got bumped and removed his gear to use as a shield. Does that seem like a possibility?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
    Since we know Dr Petty was using one of those big and very heavy HP tanks.....we can also be fairly confident, that he would be very negative with this if he breathed it down to nothing while fighting this current---since he was not on the upline where fighting of the current would have been less of an issue....If he was unable to inflate his BC, and the tank was pulling him down, it is extremely likely he would unbuckle his BC and get out of it...

    As we have also heard he was terribly dehydrated from being seasick for the entire crossing, without sleep, and on meds.....the issue of sudden and catastrophic "cramping" would appear to me a far more reasonable "possibility"....like 100 times more likely, based on the statistics of diver accidents and the most frequently occurring reasons for them...
    Johnoly likes this.
  7. DBailey

    DBailey Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Wrigley Field, Chicago
    I see no reason or logical thinking that one would remove the gear underwater to use as a shield. I definitely wouldn't take off my life support underwater thinking that if a shark grabs it, there goes my air. Second, I would prefer to have the aluminum or steel tank on my blindside.

    On the surface, I could possibly see removing it as a shield, but trying to hold it underwater (ie where the shark is coming from) would be an option. Personally, I would rather be on the bottom to eliminate the approach from below.

    It is my belief that another issue was first (panic or medical issue). This led to gear removal or rejection of the mask, camera, and BCD. At some time after this, either he or his corpse was bitten by sharks. Not attacked, but bitten.
    hyperbaric_1 likes this.
  8. tkenney

    tkenney Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: West Palm Beach Florida
    Why are there so many posts trying to put this on John's mistakes or health issues rather than looking at all the factual mistakes the operator has proven to have committed....
  9. Doug Kahle

    Doug Kahle Angel Fish

    # of Dives:
    Location: West Palm Beach
    At GrouperDawg:

    Of course it is possible that Mr. Petty was bitten by a shark. But is it probable?

    You used the term that he was "likely" killed by a shark. I question how you can conclude that, especially considering that feeding sharks appears to be a very safe activity. Since you've now admitted that you really don't dive much, I seriously question your credibility and knowledge on this subject.

    Regardless, feeding big sharks has been going on for 10 to 15 years in the Bahamas alone; yet, only one death in all that time -- and, that's shark feeding by multiple dive operators. That's a lot of divers in the water with big sharks and a lot of minutes/hours per diver with those sharks. Literally, big sharks are being fed or attracted to divers by chum/dead fish every single day in the Bahamas by someone. In Florida, we've been doing it for about 19 months now; and, with multiple dive operators for almost 12 to 15 of those months.

    Again, only one death -- is it not amazing that only one person has died, based on common beliefs about sharks (which are false)? Thus, shark feeding does not appear to be dangerous at all; otherwise, by definition, more people should have been killed or at the very least should have had serious bites. One death! How is that a dangerous activity? And, how do those statistics support your conclusion that Mr. Petty was "likely" killed by a shark? Based on those statistics, it is highly "unlikely" that he was killed by a shark.

    As I've stated in this thread and other discussions on this topic, there is no doubt that someone will get bit and die sooner or later in Florida -- it's inevitable. But, we accept that risk and choose to dive with sharks. Just like other people accept the risks of death with other activities.

    At WSpalding:

    Photographers have the best equipment to deal with a shark in their hands -- the camera. I don't know what type of set-up Mr. Petty had, but most photographers who dive with the Shear Water are serious photographers. That means a fairly large camera system with two strobes. Again, best piece of equipment you could have to deal with a shark. So, why remove your BCD when your camera is all you need?

    Keep in mind also, it does not sound like Mr. Petty would have been close to the bait crates. If he's up in the water column and drifting in the current, he's away from the crates. I'm assuming the crates were down on the sand, or inches from the sand. The sharks will be congregating around the crates; they know where the food source is located.

    And, I hear Mr. Petty's equipment was found in a line, which suggests he systematically removed it -- one piece at a time.

    My primary point is that I fail to see how anyone can conclude that this is death by shark; not enough evidence and the evidence at this point clearly suggests that Mr. Petty removed his BCD. If he removed his BCD, he had a problem under the water or on the surface.
  10. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
    There is nothing that the operator did that was proven wrong. It is shocking that you would say this.
    Are you not aware that Shearwater caters to the top photographers in the world, and the dives are done the way the photographers need them to be done......
    For one, photographers can't be good buddies, and most near pro level, don't want to be bothered with watching anything but what they want to shoot.
    There are photographers going up and down the line to the bottom, pretty much for hours at a time. What might sound like a sound diving practice in the Florida Keys for novice divers, just does not apply to this group of divers.
    Are you suggesting these photographers should not be allowed to do the dives they book over a year ahead of time to get their dream shots?

    No one is suggesting that John was not a good diver.....ANY of us that had been seasick for an entire night, could end up cramping badly, at the worst time.....it does not have to happen, but it is one of those Murphy things.
    Add that to the meds he was on, and the question becomes, why would you not look at the obvious--why would you try and blame this on Sharks?

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