Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shark Diver missing!

Several people have sent me this.

Not good.
But, there's no mention of any interaction with a Shark and as such, this got nothing to do with Shark diving but is instead a diving accident. 

Diving is dangerous, and unfortunately, shit happens. 
But barring gross negligence by the operator (which is not being asserted), certified divers are essentially "on their own" and assume full responsibility for their doing.

And the underhanded critique of Jimmy?
Sure, years ago he was controversial - but if I compare him with his peers and copycats, now he is actually  one of the most responsible operators out there, with some of the best and most stringent Shark diving protocols. The market has very much evolved, and diving cage-less with those big coastal Sharks is now the norm not the exception - to the point that none other than Neil Watson is now running cage-less dives with those "deadly" Bimini Hammers! Remember the accusations back then?
With that in mind, I would much rather call Jimmy a visionary pioneer!

So calm down folks.
No need for the told-you-so, the finger pointing, the smirking and/or the doomsday scenarios.
As a minimum, let's wait and see what comes of it.


PS - read this.
If confirmed, this obviously opens up a whole can of worms. The situation appears to be in flux, so for now, I'm gonna hold off - past thoughts about sustainable Shark diving, multi-user sites etc here.
Shame this tragedy is affecting the one operator who has made the biggest effort to establish good procedures, and who has done most for Shark awareness and conservation.


Twin Scenarios said...

Comes down to this depending on where you stand (what agenda narrative you want to follow) based on what's left to study.

1. The diver had a garden variety gear or health issue, expired, and was consumed post mortem.

2. The diver was 'picked off' by a larger animal in a predatory bite that was unfortunately fatal.

Facts to consider. These animals have been subject to ongoing changes in feeding, diver behaviors, and outside stimulus.

These changes have lead to greatly increased physical interactivity with the animals.

These changes have made a clear association with divers and food sources. Where once bait crates and tubes kept animals interested, now individual divers hand feed sharks.

Tigers can be conditioned.

This blog has documented many of the close calls at this site for over three years. The number and frequency of these events has increased while operations using this site have discounted these events as anything but what they really are.

What is expected next (but will never happen) is a cooling off period and multilateral discussion by all operators at this site to define and produce an animal interaction protocol.

- baiting
- interactivity
- set aside diver areas
- film and tv protocol
- use times and weather conditions
- standardized shark gear

The animal protocol would require each operator to put $10,000USD in escrow. Any deviation from the protocol would drain the operator escrow account into a pre-chosen non profit shark conservation entity.

Unfortunately this tragic event has happened.

What is required now is maturity and wisdom to ensure that it does not happen again.

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

Statement on Missing Shark Diver in Bahamas

(See BDA disconnect video at end)

John E. Petty disappeared Sunday, July 13, while on a night shark dive expedition at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas. We would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Petty family, as we know there are no words that could ease their pain during this difficult time. Although Petty disappeared during a planned shark-interaction dive, the cause of his disappearance has not yet been determined. The incident is under investigation by the U.S Coast Guard and the Bahamas Government.

It is important to note that this incident occurred on a U.S. registered boat the M/V Shear Water, which is based at and operates out of Lake Park, Florida. The boat is owned by Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures. Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures nor the M/V Shear Water is a Bahamian owned or based business and is not a member of the Bahamas Diving Association.

This operation has a controversial history and does not operate under the Bahamas Diving Associations shark diving procedures and protocols that have been established to ensure safe interactive shark diving experiences.

The Bahamian Dive Operators pioneered the interactive shark diving experience over thirty years ago and have safely taken tens of thousands of divers on these incredible experiences to observe these magnificent animals in their natural environment.

We are saddened by this tragedy and will work diligently with the Bahamian Government to establish guidelines and procedures for these foreign vessels entering Bahamian waters to ensure proper safe diving procedures are followed.

Neal Watson

President, Bahamas Diving Association

"When the shark came in...I thought I was a gonner"

Rudy said...

One point I have not seen discussed is the fact that divers HAVE to go to the Bahamas to shark dive. This increases the time, bureaucracy, and distance to reach specialized medical care and the risk of a fatality should someone become critically injured. Dive operators ought to be petitioning Florida for a ballot issue to allow designated shark dive zones with their own rules allowing sharks to be baited in.

DaShark said...

Good one Rudy.

Yes they should!
Chances for success, especially after this event and in view of the masterbating monkeys?

But apart from that, it is high time for the Bahamian regulator to step in as it is quite obvious that the Shark diving operators are unable and/or unwilling to self regulate, see the ever increasing shenanigans at TB and now also Bimini.
In general terms, this means regulating the invading US-based vessels and slapping down a code of conduct, see here.

Chances for that happening?
Cove and Watson are sure making a lot of noise - let's see how much is posturing and how much will lead to change which is both necessary and welcome!