Deep Water

Fear of Deep Dark Water

You are terrified of the deep and dark ocean but you still want to try scuba diving and you wonder if there is a practical solution?

People have phobias about flying, a fear of heights, or scared of spiders.

Ask any of them if they also have a fascination of flying, heights, or spiders and the answer is most likely - No!

So why is it that some individuals who are scared of water and the ocean also have an uncontrollable urge to try scuba diving?

Some people with these fears also seem to have a 'love - hate' attitude that curiously entices aquaphobes and weak swimmers into the dark depths of the abyss.

It is easy to understand why some terrestrials have a fear of entering into deep dark water.

Submerging under sea level in what seems like a waterproof rucksack with a heavy oxygen tank connected to it and a few other accessories is unlikely to help the meek overcome their scuba fears.

We do not suggest that you should be a super hero to indulge in the sport, but it constantly amazes me why those that should avoid water-based activities the most, seem to be constantly trying to get over a fear to appreciate the treasures that lay beneath the waves.

Common Scuba Fears

The solution should include identifying the cause of the fear. Is it a fear of large predatory sharks or other dangerous creatures in the oceans that makes some divers nervous?

Some divers worry that the equipment will fail and a deep 'watery grave' awaits them. The fear of drowning is common and a difficult one to overcome especially if you've had a previous bad experience around water.

But many of these situations can be addressed with some common sense risk assessment and keeping a level head will certainly help you through pretty much anything that you're afraid of.

In 1975 an American thriller blockbuster movie indirectly created one of the biggest fears for swimmers and scuba divers on a global scale. I'm unsure if Mr.

Spielberg really anticipated what affect 'Jaws' would have, but the diving industry suffered for many years following and the fear of sharks still frightens the most adventurous of divers today.

Beginners and experienced divers become unusually quiet, nervous, agitated and visibly stirred if they perceive there to be man-eating sharks in the water that they're just about to enter. Even with the decline of most sharks due to over-fishing, pollution and shark-fining, there is still a high likelihood that sharks will be in the area that you're diving.

However, the chance of being severely attacked by a shark is extremely low. It's a little known fact that just a handful of people die from shark attacks each year and you are much more likely to die from obesity, hippos or falling out of bed.

Respect for sharks is important. They can, and will, attack you in self defence of their habitat, young or themselves. Many sharks sleep during the day and out of sight of the untrained eye, but tragic incidents happen mostly due to carelessness and stupidity. Sharks are trained killers! But their instinct is to kill weak and dying fish - not humans.

A fear of scuba depth limits usually happens if you cannot see the sea bed or if the water is dark and murky. Some divers are afraid of what they cannot see more than what they can see. Depending upon their level of certification, scuba divers have a recommended depth limit as issued by the scuba training association.

These maximum limits are sometimes enforced by the dive shop taking care of you or most often it is left to the responsibility of the individual to adhere to their personal limitations.

Descending into deep dark water can be frightening even for seasoned divers and this activity should certainly be avoided by novices. Further scuba training by a qualified professional is strongly advised in specialized and challenging environments.

The additional benefits of addressing the fear of descending deep by staying shallow include seeing brightly-coloured coral reefs, clearer underwater photographs and enjoying a longer dive time through better air consumption.

Concerns about Scuba Equipment Failure

One of scuba diving's least concerns might be the fear of equipment failure. Modern dive gear is generally reliable and relatively safe if it is maintained properly, regularly serviced and frequently checked for correct function.

Although equipment malfunction is not a common cause of drowning accidents, contributing factors include poorly maintained kit and diver error.

Learner divers are taught the importance of pre-dive safety checks and how to overcome the fear of scuba gear removal in an emergency, yet it is reported that a high percentage of diver fatalities of drowning accidents are recovered with their weight belt and other scuba gear still attached.

Anxiety over equipment related problems generally becomes less daunting as your confidence and ability improve underwater but anticipation and awareness should remain at the top of a safe divers check list.

Issues of claustrophobia and vertigo can be very alarming underwater. They can create uneasiness at best and complete panic at worst. Divers often descend and ascend without visual references and it rarely causes too many problems. However, fear of closed spaces while diving can also trigger hyperventilation and panic responses.

Rational thinking and re-establishing a regular breathing pattern will certainly help, but the normal reaction is to get out of the water immediately. Care should be taken to avoid uncontrolled rapid ascents but seated on dry land is the best solution to this situation.

Fearing vertigo underwater is not a common issue that we see, but an uncomfortable dizzy feeling in the deep blue water can be disturbing for the untrained. General advice is to monitor your gauges and if necessary try to 'hug' yourself as you ascend to safety.

A common solution of how to overcome a scuba diving fear is to address the cause. Identifying the root of the stressor often leads to a sensible rational assessment and calculation that usually fixes the intimidation.

Living is not without risk and many scuba diving fears are justified, but with some rational thinking, common sense approach and prudent judgment, most of the fears that affect divers can be altered to a positive outcome.

What is it about 'diving deep' that creates images of darkness, mystery and the unknown? It may stem from deep sea underwater exploration television programs from many years ago. However the truth is that a recreational diver has maximum safety limits that rarely produce the intrigue and anticipation that we might expect.

PADI Deep Diver Specialty Training

The PADI Deep Diver Course may conjure thoughts of reckless abandonment! Typically, forty meters below sea level can be surprisingly bright in many of the world’s best sites - and I've personally been sitting on sand at 40m looking up to clearly see the hull of our boat above us.

However, some dive sites will produce dark and testing conditions for those looking for the thrills that the dive into the depths can offer.

Deep Diver Certifications consist of four deep dives and the relevant training manual thoroughly explains the need for proper preparation and extra caution when making these dives.

The diver's knowledge reviews serve to ascertain that the student deep diver understands the principles that are associated with a scuba diving certification beyond entry level diving.

The Attraction of Diving Deep

Maybe it’s the bravado of trying to stretch scuba diving safety limits beyond the norm, or is it that divers get over confident and need an extra element of danger to gain their self-satisfaction.

Although I personally have no need to make deep dives on a regular basis, whenever the opportunity arises I thoroughly appreciate the strain that divers place on the laws of physics by submerging deep underwater.

The physiological effect of pressure change becomes more noticeable. Colors begin to disappear. Your air supply seems to be in free fall. However, assuming that all of the safety rules of deep diving have been adhered to, a scuba dive close to the limits of recreational scuba diving can be an exhilarating experience that is difficult to emulate on land.

According to PADI scuba standards, a deep dive is deeper than 18 meters yet shallower than the recreational scuba limit of 40 meters. Therefore during the deep diver specialty course the student will be closely monitored and accompanied by a PADI Deep Diver Instructor.

PADI student to instructor ratios are reduced during deep diver training so that the required skills can be conducted with maximum prudence and safety.

Nitrogen narcosis is the main concern that’s associated with deep diving and the instructor will conduct some underwater tasks to test for the effects of this potentially dangerous condition.

Article Submitted 2012 by Scuba Steve

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