A Florida diver with more than 35 years of experience made national headlines last week when he found himself in a scary and real life Open Water scenario.
As anyone who was brave enough to watch the movie knows, during the film, two divers resurface to find their dive boat has disappeared and sharks have noted their sudden presence in the open water.
Spoiler Alert: The movie doesn’t have the happiest of endings.
However, the Florida diver handled his situation well, and his actions provide insight on how divers can safely tackle this scary situation in the future.
In this real life version, the man was scuba diving about 17 miles off the coast of Florida near Sebastian Inlet when he headed to the surface to realize that not only was the family boat no longer in sight, but that sharks had indeed made an appearance beneath him.
The windy conditions were most likely the cause of his sudden displacement. The weather had veered him off course, as well as his vessel, which was temporarily anchored with a yellow jug that had started to float away from the reef.
The diver did spot a vessel after roughly 15-20 minutes, and after calmly swimming a mile or so, was able to reach the boat and get out of the water. It was a scary scenario to be sure, but one veritably any diver can find themselves in especially if they use their vessel for private diving trips.
The most important thing a diver can do in any frightening situation is to stay calm. Not only does panicking use up a lot of energy, but it also serves as a clear indicator to other species in the water that there’s prey in the area.
When your arms and legs are thrashing, a shark or other hungry neighbor can easily mid-identify you as injured food. The diver in Florida stayed calm throughout, even when curious sharks were brushing up against his legs and avoided any potential attack.
If you re-surface and don’t immediately see your vessel, take a deep breath, and start slowly making a 360 degree turn to look for your boat, as well as any other dive boats that may be in the area. For a better perspective and more buoyancy,
For a better perspective and more buoyancy, lose any excess weight so you can get a slightly higher perspective. (Ditching extra weight will also come in handy for saving your strength.)
The hardest aspect of the ordeal for the stranded diver wasn’t the shark encounter it was the mile-long swim to reach the boat! Whether you’re waiting for help or embarking on a long swim to shore or a vessel, take your time and keep your movements slow and deliberate. You’ll want to be sure you have plenty of energy for the long haul, no matter what happens next.
The diver ended up making it safely back home after the 2-3 hour situation because he didn’t panic and took deliberate steps to plot out the best course of action. And while being stranded is a slightly unusual situation (it was rare enough to make a movie about it, after all) a little caution will ensure that you won’t end up being the inspiration for the next Open Water sequel.
Don’t get caught in a scary situation without the proper gear! Check out our gear section. If you live in the Dallas area, swing by our shop in Carrollton, and we’ll be happy to chat with you!