Cave Diving - One of the World's Most Dangerous Sports

21st September 2011   |   Jackie Hutchings

I tweet a lot (you can follow me @scubadviser) and now know many wonderful people who I’d never otherwise have met (so “thank you” Twitter).  There was a recent news story [Lessons for Life – Split Decision] about a diver who lost her life in a cave diving accident.  I tweeted it and it was retweeted by one of my followers, Jay @Voodoo36. (For those of you reading this who haven’t been sucked into the Twittersphere, a retweet (or RT) is when someone reads your post and think “this is cool – my own network will find this interesting”, and they share it.)  When I thanked him, he told me that he had lost 2 friends to cave diving so was always interested in the subject.  Fast forward a few weeks, and I had started picking up more and more information about the dangers of cave diving and so the idea for this post was borne.

Now, before I go on, I have no desire to try cave diving and have no experience.  Confined spaces and small exit routes don’t do it for me so I turned to Jay for some advice.  What he wrote made me understand how potentially dangerous this sport is and that many divers expose themselves to these dangers, often without even realising it.  Unscrupulous dive centers can take inexperienced divers into cave systems without any proper training.   This is what Jay wrote:

So few people have heard about underwater cavers, and those that have, probably got their first glimpse of it from the recent movie “Sanctum” and decided it was something they wanted to do . . .whether trained or not.  Proper exposure to the dangers and demands of cave diving need to be considered and trained for, before doing your first cave dive, otherwise you’ll be risking your life (or the lives of others in a group) to what many consider to be the most dangerous “sport” on earth.

A false sense of security and confidence is often gleaned by inexperienced divers who dive beyond the their limits. Yes, pushing the envelope is alright . . . after all, that’s how a lot of us learn and pique our interest . . .  but there is a great deal of responsibility that goes with that.

Agnes Milowka was someone I had contact with via Facebook and Twitter. When the cave system in Vietnam was recently discovered, she and I bantered back-and-forth at how much fun it would be to someday go over there to “check things out”. We had this conversation in early February of this year. Two weeks later, she was dead. She went into a cave system in Australia (that she had dove several times) and did not make it back out alive. Her passing floored me, but I learned a lot from it. She was truly an inspiration, and her death was a wake up call to me to get proper training before delving into any overhead environment.

‘In Too Deep’ is a documentary about Agnes.  In it, she says “It would be criminal for me to say there are no risks associated with cave diving. The sport of cave diving can see you become a dead diver. There’s no gentle way of putting that.”

So, here ends my first post about cave diving. Please comment and share with your friends and make sure they know of the risks and make informed decisions before being seduced by an unscrupulous dive center.

More Reading:

Global Underwater Explorers

National Association for Cave Diving

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