Who said scuba diving was safe?

Yep. You don't wanna be this guy

Yep. You don't wanna be this guy

Every year we gather the statistics of deaths from different activities all over the world. People die every year – that’s the reality of it. In fact I have a news flash for you: You’re gonna die someday. And so am I!

So going over the numbers, I realized that scuba diving isn’t a safe sport at all. I’ve gathered a list of deaths per activities each year and noticed that highway accidents make up for more than 94% of all transportation accidents each year which is roughly about 41,000 deaths. Just like how Usher puts it “Oh my Gosh!”

That’s a whole lot of accidents for cars. Now let’s go on to a more biological killer – the flu. No one is exempt from the flu, right? Right. And that’s why we have 20,000 body counts from the flu each year. Yeah – cough and cold can be a mass murderer. Believe it.

How about murder? Murder accounts for roughly 15,000 deaths a year. That’s quite a handful. Wouldn’t want to be a victim of that.

And scuba diving? Well the fatality is roughly 150 deaths a year.

Dangerous sport? Hell yeah.

It doesn’t account for so many deaths a year. But that’s not the point. The fact that there are scuba diving deaths still says something about the danger of the sport.

That’s why there’s PADI certification and dive instructors to tell you how not to die in scuba diving.

Be a wise diver. Know your stuff. Death is not something to take lightly even when we’re all gonna go through it. Take your time living while you can.

Why Scuba Diving is the Best Sport

As I glance at the past, and browse through my previous posts, I noticed that scuba diving has a lot of risks and dangers. I have written about the wide range of sicknesses, diseases, and injuries which a scuba diver can attain. These mishaps, mistakes, and accidents can cause pain, retirement, disabilities, and sometimes death.

At times I experience great discomfort when thinking about these things. Am I scaring myself away from scuba diving as I write about these posts? Have I unconsciously developed a fearful attitude towards this beloved sport? Maybe there are other sports out there that I could try- sports that are probably a lot safer, sports that are more enjoyable, and sports that could take my mind off the dangers of scuba diving.

Maybe, I could use a little cycling every now and then…

Cycling Fail

And if I can’t afford a bike, I could just use my feet and try running…

Running Fail

Or I could give good ‘ol basketball a shot and perhaps even score with the ladies…

Basketball Fail

And when I’m tired, I could stay at home and play Frisbee with my gentle pet…

Frisbee Fail

Or maybe, I could aim for something more athletic like soccer…

Soccer Fail

And when I improve, I could even become famous like David Beckham…

David Beckham Fail

You’ll never know. I might even be good enough to participate in the Olympics…

Olympics Fail

Or maybe, I could start small by leaving out the “scuba” in “scuba diving”…

Diving Fail

Maybe I could try all these sports out so my mind could take a breather from all those potential hazards of scuba diving… but no. I take a deeper look at my previous posts, and eventually, I am reminded of the reason why I write about all these scary stuff. I write because I love scuba diving so much that I wouldn’t ever want to see anyone have a bad and painful time with it.

In sickness or in health, in pain or in pleasure, in accidents or in awesomeness, in embarrassment or in excitement, I am happy as I am. I am proud to be me. I am proud to be a scuba diver.

BONUS CLIP!

3 Health benefits of scuba diving

No scuba diving can't do this to you. But it still has its benefits

No scuba diving can't make you this big. But it still has its benefits

There are reasons why Scuba diving is considered a sport in our world today. And like all sports, scuba diving brings with it some health benefits for your body and physical condition.

Water is heavier

Obviously. It is heavier than air. And up in the surface we move and breathe and walk and talk in air. It’s normal for our bodies to be in the surface surrounded in air. But when you’re scuba diving, you’re obviously in water. And water means more resistance against your movements.

Water can build up muscles that are sleeping when your body feels the resistance. Scuba diving gives you a lot of time where your body is all in water – all the while you’re enjoying your time ‘exercising’ while watching marine life all around you and exploring the underwater environment.

If you’re a swimmer, you know that swimming builds up muscles in your shoulders and thighs as you go for laps. Scuba diving isn’t as intense as competitive swimming but it also includes repeated physical movements in the resistant body of water.

Iron lungs

No don’t take it literally. But your lungs would be pushed and pushed to be more skilled in breathing. Scuba diving has LOTS to do with breathing – because it gives you buoyancy control. And buoyancy is vital when you’re navigating your way in the bottom of the sea.

You won’t really feel a million bucks when you get out from the water after a good scuba dive. You won’t feel your lungs becoming healthier, no. But it sure will give you better lungs and better breathing.

Stress buster

Oh yes, this is the perfect health benefit for all of us. Who in the world today is not stressed out? I know I am. And I’m pretty sure you are too! This benefit alone is more than enough to have you go scuba diving for health.

Studies have shown that looking at fishes in an aquarium helps you relax and relieve stress. Imagine being in one big, humongous aquarium we apparently call the sea and swim with all the marine life you can possible imagine. Your stress will surely be busted. Yeah.

And since now you know that scuba diving is such a great benefit to your health why not dive with us in our next liveaboard scuba diving trip to Palau? There’s a $400 discount promo going on from October 2 all the way to November 20! We’ll be more than happy to see you there!

Why Nitrogen can Make you High

Yep - you'll see more than dogs when you're insane.

Yep - you'll see more than dogs when you're insane.

It is understandable that you might become addicted to the beauty that surrounds you down under. But getting insane? Is that even possible?

When you’re starting to feel something funky and suddenly things get a little brighter and you see Bob Dylan playing his Quasimodo song with an acoustic guitar, then there might be a possibility that it’s what scuba divers call nitrogen insanity.

Nitrogen Insanity

The air you breathe from the scuba tank contains approximately 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen and the pressure of being underwater forces the nitrogen into the body’s fatty tissues.

The longer and deeper you dive, the more nitrogen is forced into your tissues. At around 10 meters, the partial pressure of each gas would have been doubled. So your tissue will absorb twice as much nitrogen as on the surface.

Sucking up too much nitrogen in your body can affect the way you think and feel. Diving too deep and too long can cause this insanity – and no, you’re not an exemption to this. Don’t even try.

Nitrogen insanityDecompression Sickness

In diving, you may be familiar with the term bends or decompression sickness. This occurs when the nitrogen bubbles in the blood lodge in certain parts of your body. This bubble that is caught in a vital organ can be critical for you. Sounds painful doesn’t it? Because it is.

And before much was discovered about decompression sickness, divers got bubbles lodged in their joints, which forces them to bend over in pain. Nasty!

Now, in order to eliminate the pain that you might be feeling, you should plan your diving activity through a dive computer and/or decompression tables. These tools will provide the time and depth for a decompression or safety stop for the particular dive.

A safety stop is a moment while you’re ascending wherein you stop in a certain depth in order for your body to cope and safely release the nitrogen inside your body.

The safety stop is vital if you don’t want unwanted nitrogen in your joints. It can make you feel worse than an old man with arthritis problems.

Decreasing the duration of the dive and increasing the length of the decompression or safety stop can also help you avoid decompression sickness. Remember a great dive is a safe dive. So plan your dive carefully with safety as top priority.

Decompression sickness and nitrogen insanity are serious diving illness. You don’t want to feel funky when you’re diving down deep. So you better make sure that you’ve planned your dive in such a way that nitrogen will help you live and think straight.

How to avoid dying from deadly Jellyfish

For the previous post, we talked about certain kinds of non-lethal jellyfish. As for this post, we’ll be identifying the kinds of deadly Jellyfish that you don’t want to meet when you’re down under the sea and what to do if ever you get stung.

It might look pretty until it gets to you

Box Jellyfish - It might look pretty until it gets to you

The Box Jelly – It’s also known as the Sea Wasp or Chironex Fleckeri. It’s found off the shores of Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This marine animal has a boxy bell head the size of a basket ball, 4 parallel brains [one on each corner], 24 eyes and 60 arseholes.

There are 5,000 deadly stinging cells on each of its 10- 60, two meter long tentacles. They are usually a problem from October to May. They are the most toxic creatures on Earth. These are the symptoms of an attack of the Box Jelly:

–       Severe pain

–       Headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

–       Skin swelling/wounds/redness

–       Difficulty breathing, swallowing and speech

–       Shivering, sweating

–       Irregular pulse/heart failure

irukandji jellyfish

irukandji jellyfish

Irukandji jellyfish – Irukandji jellyfish are very small, with a bell about one centimeter wide and four tentacles, which range in length from just a few centimeters to up to 35 cm in length. The stingers (nematocysts) are in clumps, appearing as rings of small red dots around the bell and along the tentacles. They are found in Australia.

They are known as Irukandji jellyfish because they cause symptoms known as Irukandji syndrome (a condition that is induced by venomization that is seldom fatal, but if immediate medical action is not taken, within only 20 minutes the victim could go into cardiac arrest and die). They are usually a trouble from November to May, though recently they have been recorded present in all months except July and August. The most common known jellyfish of this type are Carukia barnesi and Malo kingi. Symptoms of an attack:

–       Lower back pain, intense headache.

–       Muscle cramps and shooting pains, nausea, vomiting.

–       Catastrophically high blood pressure.

–       Restlessness and feeling of impending doom.

–       Death from heart failure or fluid on the lungs.

Of course we won’t leave you with just these symptoms of death and doom. So here’s what you should do when you get stung by one of these deadly Jellies:

–       Rinse the area with sea water. Do not scrub or wash with fresh water which will aggravate the stinging cells. Do not pour sun lotion or spirit-based liquid on the area.

–       Deactivate remaining cells with a vinegar rinse before removing them; otherwise inactive nematocysts may be triggered. If no vinegar is available use urine – but NOT for Box jelly and Irukandji stings. Ask a mate for a golden shower! Really! Preferably male urine as it’s considered to be more sterile

–       Lift off any remaining tentacles with a stick or something similar.

–       If cells still linger, dust with flour and carefully scrape off with a blunt knife.

–       After all tentacle sections have gone, pain can be treated with a cold pack and/or a local anesthetic such as a sunburn lotion or insect bite treatment that lists ‘ocaine’ as an ingredient.

–       If there is continued swelling, or itchiness, apply a light steroid cream e.g. Hydrocortisone eczema cream.

–       If muscle spasms persist see a doctor.

Some additional treatment for the Box Jelly.

–       Use pressure-immobilization on limbs if possible. e.g. quickly wrap a light bandage above and below the sting (if you can’t get two fingers under the bandage, it’s too tight).

–       Immobilize/splint the stung area and keep it at heart level [gravity-neutral] if possible. Too high causes venom to travel to the heart, too low causes more swelling.

–       Do not drink alcohol, or take any medicine or food.

Now that you’ve read all these information, I believe it’s still best to remind ourselves of these basic yet very helpful guidelines.

Box jellyfish stings. Nasty!

Box jellyfish stings. Nasty!

–       Take extreme precautions if you have an existing heart condition as Jellyfish deaths are normally attributed to cardiac arrest [or pulmonary congestion]. You are in great danger from the Toxic Boxes’ venomous sting unless treated immediately as the pain is so excruciating that you may go into shock and drown before reaching the shore. So swim with a partner if possible.

–       Avoid swimming in the October-May high-jelly season.

–       Wetsuits or Lycra ‘stinger suits’ offer good protection especially the sophisticated models with hands, neck and head coverage. Feet may be covered by fins or swimming shoes.

–       Take notice of warnings! Bathing areas prone to toxic jellies may have safety signs.

–       Keep your eyes peeled when swimming in areas where the more dangerous variety live (though Irukandji jellyfish are very small and barely visible to see, so accomplish first steps first before relying on this one).

With these in mind and heart I believe you will be able to achieve a more wonderful and wary diving experience. Make sure that you have a healthy heart, because that is the organ that is directly affected by Jellyfish venom. Cardiac arrest is mostly the cause of death by jellyfish. That’s why Will Smith died in the movie 7 Pounds, not because he was electrocuted by some jellyfish (whoops, spoiler alert… haha).

Jellyfish are wonderful creatures, and they will treat you wonderfully too if you treat them and their habitat in the same manner.

“Peanut Butter and Jelly… fish?” The ‘harmless’ kinds of Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish

We’ve always thought of jellyfish as very calm, light, soft, and friendly sea creatures with their beautiful features perfect enough to be an addition to the serene ambience of the home. That you’d just want to catch one the way Spongebob would do in Jellyfish Fields with his trusty old net, and not receiving any retaliation from the jellyfish.

Sadly, most jellyfish aren’t as angelic as those in Spongebob.

You might be thinking “Well not all jellyfish sting.”

Here’s a newsflash for you: THEY ALL DO. But you’re not completely wrong since not all jellyfish are aggressive.

And for this entry, we’d like you to know the types of jellyfish that are somehow friendly.

Translucent Moon Jellies – These are the harmless and the quite common jellyfish that we see. They do not actively sting you, but the threadlike tentacles around their body can sting. Although it’s not sharp enough to pierce our thick skin.

Purple Jellyfish – These jellies that can grow up to 40 cm only has a few tentacles that can sting albeit slightly. So don’t be afraid when you see them.

Purple Jellyfish

Purple Jellyfish

The Mushroom Cap Jellyfish – These jellyfish has deep bell-shaped bodies that do not have tentacles. They’re creamy white in color and they get darker towards the sturdy “tentacle” structure at the bottom. The good news is that they are not hazardous to people.

It’s inevitable that jellyfish do sting. Cause, that’s just who they are. So always be careful when you encounter one, expect that there’s always a possibility for you to get stung.

As a scuba diver, you’ll never know when you get to meet one – being surrounded by lots and lots of different marine creatures. Like I always say, better safe than sorry.

For our next entry, we’re going to cover the lethal, killer-types of jellyfish. Now those are the ones you better look out for.

“Let go of me!” What to do when you’re entangled down deep

When you're down deep, accidents can happen

When you're down deep, accidents can happen

People say that no matter how careful you are with your actions, there will still be moments where you have to face danger. This is Especially true, when, as a scuba diver when you’re deep down under the sea.

One of the common dangers that scuba divers like you and I should be aware of is getting entangled or entrapped. What do we do in order to avoid these situations? How should we deal with it?

When you come to grips with the sea and it won’t let go

The first tip is that you should never dive a wreck or other overhead environment without the proper training and equipment. Common sense, right? Right. But some still do. Just like the soldiers who should not to go into battle without thorough training and suitable equipment, you shouldn’t dive without proper gear and training.

Second, you must approach those wrecks, cavern, fast-moving water, and other entanglement or entrapment hazards with extreme caution. Be wary of your immediate surroundings. Keep alert of anything that might entangle you or otherwise harm you.

Accidents happen

Now, even if you have kept those tips in mind, there may still be times that you will, for some stupendous reason, still get yourself entangled. Just in case, here’s what you do if ever you do get entangled:

The very first thing that you should keep in mind is that you have to stay calm and conserve your air. Be mindful of your breaths and try to make sure that you’re breathing out in minimum because you’d want your air supply to last.

During these kinds of situations, you should use all the possible means to draw any co-diver’s attention to your situation. You may bang on your cylinder with a metallic device like a knife or any metallic object you have with you to draw attention.  You should also use an underwater horn or rattle if ever you do have one with you.

Thirdly, you should also consider use a safety sausage or SMB to signal for help.

Your last option would be, if your air supply is already depleted, and you cannot disentangle your equipment, consider ditching your gear and making an emergency ascent to the surface. Do that ONLY when all other option seems bleak.

As mentioned earlier, there just those darned times when accidents happen. So it’s essentially important for you to always be careful of when you’re deep down under the sea. I’m sure that this would be taught by your diving instructor – if not already. And always keep in mind that you should first think of your safety before exploring the beauty of the sea.

Common scuba diving blunders

Don't make the same mistake

Don't make the same mistake

Way back in 892 A.D. before the wonders of electricity and the wretchedness of Rob Schneider films, was a man named Sigurd. I left out his last name, because Expedition Fleet does not promote tongue twisters. Anyway, Sigurd was a leader in a Viking conquest.

He was a very successful leader as he dominated foreign lands. He knew all that is to know in what he does.

In a typical day of land-domination, he beheaded a native ruler and strapped his head to his saddle as he rode home in victory. It was a bumpy ride, and the head, with its mouth open, kept bouncing off of Sigurd’s leg. One of the exposed teeth caused a small cut, which later caused an infection, which later caused a very sad thing called death. It is carelessness (and a little bit of tooth decay) that killed the confident and intelligent leader.

Scuba divers may not be prone to death by dead heads, but they are prone to carelessness, which may cause self-irritation, unwanted regrets, mild injuries, major injuries, or, if you’re unlucky enough, all of the above. Scuba divers need not suffer from carelessness. Below is a short list of mistakes- mistakes that are a product of willful ignorance or ignorant ignorance. Either way, they are mistakes that should not be.

Putting on too much weight- We love them weight belts. We put ‘em on correctly and with the right amount, and we sink to the ocean fast enough without any internal injuries. Put too much though, and we sink to the bottom faster than Chris Brown’s descent to infamy.

Forgetting to put on any weight- Unless you’re Justin Bieber who has an ego heavy enough to pull him down to the deepest corners of the Mariana Trench, you’re gonna need weight belts. You’ll need this if you want to explore the ocean depths. You ain’t no diver if you ain’t physically capable of diving.

Uncontrolled buoyancy- Buoyancy should be mastered by the scuba diver during his lessons beforehand. A diver who fails at this and dives anyway will, once in the ocean, become an assault on the corals, the fellow scuba divers, the marine life, and the common sense.

Straying away from the group or dive buddy- In a herd of sheep, when one separates itself from its fellow sheep due to bountiful distractions that are found at every turn, it becomes lost and terrified. Eventually, that sheep takes anxious breaths, and if it breathes from a scuba tank, things will get really bad. And if that sheep strays even farther, it may become prey to vicious animals. In this metaphor, the sheep is the diver, and the rest is handed to your imagination.

Aside from the possible pain and regrets that all these mistakes can cause, there is also a great chance of embarrassment. I have heard stories and read testimonials, but believe me, I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen Twilight. Speaking of embarrassment, there’s this time where a diver was careless and he was like… Ah, forget it. Just watch the video.

WWF Cleanup Dive on July 17: Bring a buddy

cleanup dive NasugbuTo all Eco Divers out there, good news!

Our friend Jayvee Fernandez is promoting an eco-dive event by WWF!

This is your chance to help save the oceans and our beautiful Philippine reefs.

This event is going to be in Hamilo coast, Nasugbu.

Hope you guys can come!

Here are the details of this event:

Are you a DIVER?
Do you have your own GEAR?
Are you free on JULY 17?

If you answered yes to all of these, then get ready to get down and dirty as we clean up a reef in Hamilo Coast, Nasugbu.

One last question – Do you want to bring a friend?

Sure you do!

We’re inviting you and your best dive buddy to come along. E-mail us your name and donor number – don’t forget to include your pal’s name too. Your companion/friend/partner/in-an-it’s-complicated-relationship doesn’t need to be a WWF donor. They are welcome to come aboard through you, but they can’t come if you aren’t!

Send in your e-mails to donorsupport@wwf.org.ph by July 7 and sit tight – we’ll announce who’s in by July 9.

Scuba Diving Death and what you should learn from it

It's a terrible thing. So remember the rules

It's a terrible thing. So remember the rules

Over and over again, this blog has discussed topics regarding the safety of scuba divers. This is because safety is undoubtedly the most important aspect of scuba diving. It should be at the top of a diver’s priority list above fun, pictures, memories, and experience.

Accidents are never a good thing. And the saddest thing when an accident happens is the fact that it could have been prevented. I have written posts concerning the best diving practices, tips on how to prevent injuries, taking care of diving equipment, and more. Today, I hope that every diver out there will develop a deeper sense of importance of these facts and tips as we watch, observe, and analyze the video below where a fellow diver lost his life in the sea.

On April 28, 2000, Yuri Lipski passed away during a dive in the Blue Hole of Dahal, Egypt. The video contains the actual footage of his fatal dive as it is carefully studied by diving specialists regarding the cause of this tragedy. Below the video is the summarization of the specialists’ insights along with some observations of my own.

-Within a few seconds after Yuri entered the water, the specialists immediately noticed that he was descending in an unusually fast manner. There is a possibility that Yuri might have too much weight on himself.

-Yuri started descending without his diving buddy. No matter how good or experienced you think you are, never explore the seas on your own. Because if something bad happens to you, no one will be there to back you up.

-According to the specialists, Yuri was an instructor himself. Everyone is susceptible to risks and dangers. Being an expert does not make you less vulnerable from accidents.

-Before the video reached two minutes, strange noises occurred. It is not clear whether it was a cry for help or a sound made from broken or breaking diving equipment. When these noises started, Yuri was still in a shallow position. Divers, when you feel something is wrong with your equipment, head for the surface immediately. If you continue to descend and your equipment was indeed broken, a precautionary ascent may become too late.

-The recommended maximum depth for divers is about 30 meters in one full tank of air, any deeper than that would be considered a risk. Yuri descended at the reached the bottom at around 91 meters. Though it is uncertain if his descent was intentional or accidental, no one should ever reach this depth.

-One of the specialists claim that Yuri was descending at a speed of about 30 meters per minute, a rate that is way faster than the normal recommended speed. At this rate, Yuri could have already suffered other internal injuries, making a safe ascent pretty hard.

-When Yuri reached the bottom, he began to panic as he lost control of his actions, his breathing and his equipment. He never made it to the surface. Panic will never help. Especially when you’re deep down under.

When I was at high school, there was a rule enforced where no one should play basketball shoeless on the poorly cemented floor. I disobeyed and played barefoot. One day, I had an accident where a huge strip of skin got literally ripped off from my heel. There is a famous saying regarding rules. It goes like this: “Rules are meant to be broken.” I believe breaking a couple of rules is not worth it when it results in the slightest risk of your only life.

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