The folks at scubaherald got me thinking about the scuba fringe, the diving opportunities that take you from being a recreational diver to a complete scuba diving freak. While I admit my first thought is “That sounds cool! Let’s go now!” there is a small voice speaking from my sub-conscious that says “Are you a fool?” Whatever your perspective, you have to admit these pursuits take diving to a whole new level.
“I’m in a perfectly working helicopter, but I am going to exchange my comfy seat for a long, unpleasant plunge into cold ocean waters. Oh, and I’m taking my scuba gear with me.” Dive operators in several places, including the Great Barrier Reef and Curacao, are offering this expedient pre-dive experience, redolent of Navy Seal and flying fish jokes. In exchange for some serious cash, you get several hours of training and enough adrenaline to fuel Manhattan’s electricity needs. For a year.
Cageless, baited Tiger Shark diving
It’s tough to stand out as a dive operator in South Africa, as once-in-a-lifetime diving opportunities can be found all along the coast. One particularly creative shop has found the answer. Go to the Tiger Shark ‘hood, chum the water, remove the cage, and pray that everyone on the dive boat returns with the appropriate number of arms and legs (attached). What I want to know is: how do the Great Whites know that the dinner bell is not for them?
Record-setting deep dives
Go past 120 feet, and you’ve left recreational diving depths. Add a few hundred feet more, and you’ll find zero light and few fish. Go a few hundred feet more, and you might just find a diver with a death wish trying to set a new depth record. The deepest sea dive to date is 330 meters set by Pascale Bernabe in 2005, but depth-aholics are constantly trying to beat the latest achievement. The record and not the dive itself seems to be what turns these extreme divers on: it took Bernabe ten minutes to descend to that depth and nine long, boring hours to come back up because of all of the decompression requirements.
In the middle of the Antarctic winter you need to bore a hole through six feet of ice before you can even access the water. That alone dissuades most people. The remaining determined individuals then need to contend with their Sahara-sized dry suit, a slush filled, disorienting entry and volumes of safety rope, as the hole is the only way in and out of the ocean (no, chipping away ice cubes with your dive knife will not work). But, once the trivial inconveniences are dispensed, diving the water under the ice is a thrilling opportunity, with over three hundred feet of visibility and a host of unique sea creatures to see (can you say orka?) It’s an extreme dive adventure not for the faint of heart, nerve, body temperature, or wallet.