We’ve all seen the disclaimers: These people are trained professionals. Do not try this at home. And what do warnings such as this help guarantee? That some idiot will, indeed, try this at home. That’s why there are the Darwin Awards. Thank goodness this sort of nonsense doesn’t go on in the diving community. Or does it?
Recently, producers for the Travel Channel contacted Ginnie Springs about shooting a segment for an upcoming show on location at the park. The show was to be part of their ongoing series on Top Secret Swimming Holes. They even interviewed one of the park’s owners to introduce the segment and give it credibility.
The catch was, what the Travel Channel crew filmed (unbeknownst to Ginnie) had nothing to do with swimming holes. It was all about freediving. If you cave dive, you most likely know this has become a real problem at Ginnie. Self-taught freedivers are diving into the overhead — in many instances well beyond where recreational divers would be allowed to go. There has already been one fatality this year. There is a good possibility it will not be the last.
So what did the travel channel segment show? It started with a freediving class. Okay, no problem there. Training is good, and no freediver training organization we know of sanctions freediving into overhead environments. But then you see someone freediving to the grate in Ginnie and to the start of the gold line in Devil’s Eye. So now those hundreds of thousands of viewers who watch the Travel Channel segment think that coming to Ginnie and freediving into a cave must be a perfectly okay thing to do. Bad. Very bad.
It would be one thing is this had been an isolated incident. Unfortunately, it isn’t. I regularly see videos pop up in my Facebook timeline which encourage diver behavior that is both reckless and irresponsible. I’m going to share three of them here. Depending on when you read this, it’s possible one or more of these videos may have been taken down. So, for each video, there is a description of what the video showed, and why it’s a problem.
Among the things I got from living and teaching in Southern California for the better part of a decade was a firsthand education in surf entries. Surf is a great equalizer and has numerous ways to hand you your own butt. As a scuba diver, it can also get you killed. The problem is that if a breaking wave passes over head as you are inhaling, you can be instantly catapulted from a depth of several feet to what is effectively the surface. This is a wonderful way to embolize.
Enter the exciting new sport of Scuba Surfing. Promoted as a way to take the fun and excitement of scuba diving to the next level, what it actually turns out to be is a great way to get yourself killed. (Can you say Arterial Gas Embolism?) But, hey, it’s on You Tube, so it must be okay…right?
This futuristic-looking gadget promises to allow you to enjoy all the fun and excitement of snorkeling, without actually having to deal with a snorkel. Never mind the fact the polycarbonate lens can easily scratch and fog, and that there is no convenient way to equalize. It looks cool so, why not?
The promotional video, which has popped up several times on my Facebook timeline as a “suggested post” shows attractive young people using the Snorkl in a variety of tropical locations…and in one that looks oddly familiar. That’s right, the video show someone using the Snorkl to freedive into Ginnie Cavern — something that just got a person killed less than two months ago.
To add insult to injury, the Snorkl people filmed this without first asking Ginnie’s permission or signing a location shooting agreement. Yeah, real professional.
It’s one thing when a group of lay people make a video about a questionable diving practice. They can at least plead ignorance. But you would think dive professionals such as instructors and divemasters would know better…right? Think again.
The following video shows the crew of a dive boat clowning around with what appear to be passengers, goading them into doing (and in many cases physically pushing them into doing) entries that can be best characterized as face-plants. Just harmless fun…right?
Not quite. Hitting the water face-first while wearing a dive mask can lead to serious injury and, in at least one case, death. So, maybe no one got hurt the day this was filmed. What about all the wannabes who see this and decide to try it themselves?
Care to Share?
Have you seen a diving video promoting reckless behavior? Send us a link below in the comments section. Anyone this stupid needs to be held up to the light of day.