Scuba Diving Fatality Statistics
The most recent statistics for scuba diving fatalities show a surprisingly low count when compared to many other popular sports and pastimes.
In fact, other than being attacked by a big shark or some other nasty sea creature, there are few ‘real’ accidents in recreational and technical scuba activities.
How Many Scuba Divers Die Each Year?
The “DAN Annual Diving Report” underlines the number of recreational diving fatalities by region and country.
It also highlights how many of the circumstances and associated risks could have been reduced – or avoided altogether.
Describing known facts about scuba diving deaths each year is one of the key roles of the Divers Alert Network (DAN).
As a result, all divers should carefully consider the diving decisions that they make and take greater care in the water.
So, how dangerous is diving? Well, it is a ‘relatively’ safe sport when it is undertaken in a responsible manner. Even so, there is a lot more we need to do if we want to make dives free of accidents, scuba diving related injuries, and fatalities.
DAN’s data collection process starts when a diving death has been identified. In most cases, identification arises through scuba news stories, forums, internet alerts, or from affiliated organizations (e.g. members of the public, county medical examiners).
DAN Annual Diving Report
According to DAN, the geographical and seasonal distribution of scuba fatalities in 2018 was 169 diving deaths (reported worldwide for incidents involving recreational scuba). In fact, that figure increased by 33% from the previous annual rate.
Further reports suggest 78% of recorded and known cases were male and 12% were female (USA and Canada).
Important: Divers can avoid some of the most severe risks by adhering to the number one rule of scuba diving!
Scuba Diving Accidents Statistics
The fatality rate shows that scuba deaths are ‘comparatively’ uncommon. Even so, most of the mishaps occur as a direct result of lack of concentration, overconfidence, or sheer negligence.
One noteworthy statistic in dive deaths is that about 50% of those recorded were for divers who had made less than twenty (20) dives.
Put another way:
This statistical analysis hides the basic fact that 50% of the deaths were associated with divers of some experience (i.e. they had already logged more than 20 dives.)
The exact numerical input for the 50% remains a little unclear. So, was it for a fewer or greater number of each level?
What is worth noting, however, is that serious injury or even death can happen to any diver of any certification level.
Statistics equating scuba diving deaths per year with other accidents resulting in death (e.g. road deaths), are pointless and prove nothing.
Thus, it may be more important to take note of the insurance companies. Most of which place scuba diving near to the top of dangerous sports/pastimes. Yet, the United States Parachuting Association disclosed that skydives end in a fatality more often (when compared to scuba deaths per year).
Last time we checked, the risk of dying from scuba diving activities rate at one (1) in every 200,000 dives. That sounds like a risk worth taking!
Note: The chart shows distribution by dive certification level for the United States and Canadian scuba fatalities in 2016. It points out a striking similarity in the number of recorded decedents of student vs. technical divers.
How Do Scuba Divers Die?
You may now be wondering ‘what are the odds of dying while scuba diving’? Information and data from the “Diving Medicine for Scuba Divers” showed:
- 1% of divers died while they were attempting a rescue.
- 5% died while cave diving.
- 10% had received advice that they were medically unfit to go diving.
- 10% were ‘under trained’ when they died.
- 25% got into difficulty at the surface beforehand.
- 50% failed to inflate their buoyancy compensator.
- 50% actually died at the surface (not under water).
- 86% were alone when they died – diving solo or got separated (e.g. misused the buddy system).
- 90% of the victims died with their weight belt still in place (e.g. they failed to release it).
Note: Despite being mandatory in most countries, we always recommend having adequate insurance cover for scuba divers.
Common Causes of Scuba Deaths
What then, are the typical reasons for mortalities? In fact, there is rarely a single determining factor that actually causes diver deaths.
More often than not, there are multiple factors – interwoven and intrinsically linked. Together, they can deteriorate and turn an ‘incident’ into a catastrophic death!
In fact, this disastrous thesis is borne out by the well-respected Director of Research at ‘DAN’ – Dr. Petar Denoble, who suggests:
“Whilst each accident may be different, and some occur in an instant, most can be represented as a multiple chain of events that lead to a deadly outcome. Removing any link from that chain may change the outcome.”
Previous Health Conditions
Let’s first consider previous health conditions not ‘directly’ connected with diving. Research shows that a large proportion of scuba related deaths are to people suffering a poor health pre-condition.
In normal circumstances, these conditions would be somewhat controllable – or at least not subject to intense medical attention.
If we take a closer look:
They include the usual array of lifestyle complaints, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Even lesser complaints like the common cold can also take on a new mantle with in-water activities.
Diving and having a heart attack is one of the health issues recreational scuba divers should be most concerned about. You might expect that decompression illness (e.g. the bends), or an air embolism would create the highest risk of mortality for divers.
In fact, data from the Divers Alert Network (DAN) suggest that cardiovascular disease is the cause of 15% of scuba fatalities. CVD includes significant medical health problems, including:
- Coronary artery disease
- Transient ischemic attack (stroke)
Furthermore, elevated cholesterol levels, age (40+), and smoking, are all attributed to the most common risk factors. In addition to taking frequent medical evaluations, other risk-reducing steps include:
- Avoiding refined sugar.
- Eating a healthy balanced diet.
- Reducing exposure to cigarette smoke.
- Taking regular exercise.
Buoyancy Control and Air Supply Problems
A wide range of potential problems can give rise to extreme distress. Typically, they include too-quick ascents (or descents), insufficient air supply, and not being able to gauge a proper response – frequently due to panic.
Often, the result will be a rapid ascent. Experts have cited this as a major contributory factor resulting in the diver deaths that they investigated.
Events which act as the trigger can be attributed to poor experience, and in some cases, super-confidence in one’s ability (e.g. negligence).
Why is this important?
In a nutshell, it means you are diving beyond your limit. It may be in varying situations (e.g. wreck penetration) or at different skill or experience levels.
On descent, gas in the body cavities compresses – upon descent it expands. In extreme cases of rapid descent or ascent, this can cause tissue damage.
Equipment Malfunction or Improper Use
In ideal life, and in proper circumstances, the failure of dive equipment is rarely an issue. Even so, you should never use old or poorly-maintained dive gear.
More often than not, the diver will be unaware of the equipment malfunction or over confident in its use.
Situations can arise that start a chain of events leading to a stressed or panic reaction. Comfort and familiarity with all the different parts of scuba equipment is of paramount importance. Thus, you should be ‘at one’ with your dive gear.
Note: Another section explains the dangers of ‘deadly tank valve turns’ and how the practice is often taken for granted by experienced divers.
Lack of Understanding: Hostile Environments
Floating at the surface of a pool or in open water, such as snorkel swimming, is a pastime enjoyed by many. Being a reasonable swimmer, and staying within the confines of your own abilities, is generally accepted as being both pleasurable and safe. Yet, deadly accidents still happen!
Once you submerge your body underwater, you are not ‘swimming underwater’. You have entered an environment for which you and your body were not made.
The ‘power’ of water is not realized by most, especially people who don’t know how to scuba. As an example, those who commit suicide by jumping into water from high bridges, usually die from impact injuries – not drowning.
Submerging your body in water brings about many physical and mental changes. This also applies to people with healthy bodies, even when wearing the very best equipment that money can buy.
So, even modern equipment cannot fully negate the effects of intense pressure. All it can do is make you feel as comfortable as possible with the pleasures of going down in the deep blue sea.
Conclusion about Diving Hazards
Whatever your diving abilities and experience – as with driving – accidents can and do happen. Accidents do not pick and choose. No one is immune!
Glib statistics can prove or disprove anything. But, an estimate worth taking note of is the fact that there is one diving death per 200,000 dives. Even so, that does not mean you have two hundred thousand lives.
Some will die on their first or second dive. Whilst others, and their fellow divers, may log a few thousand during their lifetime.
Statistics prove that the risk is a somewhat even spread between experienced and non-experienced divers. There is a likelihood that incidents that happen to experienced divers may be more life-threatening.
And why is this so? Put simply, it is because man will be man, and most men want to go that one step further than before! It is part of human nature.
Lost City: Bay of Cambay — Victim of The Great Year?
Part of our study into Plato’s concept of The Great Year involves a look at ancient civilizations. This week’s post examines a sunken, lost city, found in 2001. This discovery challenges previously held archeological beliefs about the timeline of our Earth and man’s progression.
From our post last week, we define The Great Year — in simple terms — as being when the planets and the motion of the fixed stars return to their original positions.
According to NASA, this takes 25, 800 years. Plato thought this grand cycle of the heavens influenced the rise and fall of civilizations. During a grand cycle, civilizations experienced high ages of enlightenment and low ages of darkness.
Ruins Reveal Advanced Civilizations
Examples of sophisticated cultures — that we know of — are ancient Egypt, the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, the Megalithic civilization, and the Mayan civilization. All of which appear to have — at some point — slipped into an age of darkness, resulting in a collapse of the civilization.
Archeologists study civilization ruins, hoping to discover more of our ancient history. They can undertake this research because we have remains from these sophisticated cultures. But what if a catastrophe, of biblical proportions, like a flood, buried these once vibrant civilizations? No ruins, thus nothing to compare or research.
It would be as if no other civilizations ever existed.
In conclusion, an absence of ruins mean we have no knowledge of older advanced civilizations. Without these remains, a timeline of Earth’s history — like the one upon which we currently depend — could be totally bogus.
As far as we know, Earth could just now be crawling out of the dark ages.
India’s Gulf of Cambay Discovery
Location of the lost city site.
Divers found one of the most recent discoveries of our time in India’s Gulf of Cambay. Oceanographers from India’s National Institute of Ocean Technology made this chance discovery. According to BBC News, these researchers were conducting a survey on pollution.
They discovered geometric structures at the bottom of the sea. This discovery could indicate an ancient civilization, predating the oldest ruins found so far by some 5,000 years.
Significance of Cambay Discovery
Before recent discoveries, archeologists widely believed that highly advanced cultures did not exist prior to 5,500 BP. ( ProbeNote : BP after a number means: years Before the Present.)
Discovery of the ancient ruins in the Gulf of Cambay puts this belief into question. It clearly establishes the existence of an advanced civilization before our current accepted timeline.
These Gulf of Cambay remains were found 120 feet underwater and could be over 9,000 years old, some researchers say. However, because the artifacts were dredged up instead of archaeologically excavated, controversy has surfaced regarding the find. Consequently, the actually dating of the ruins is in question.
From what was reported, the lost city appears to be five miles long and two miles wide. Side-scan sonar identified the huge geometrical structure. Artifacts recovered from the site include construction material, pottery, sections of walls, beads, sculpture, and human bones and teeth.
Carbon dating of these remains show them to be nearly 9,500 years old ( being questioned). Four thousand years older than today’s calculations of the earliest possible chance of an advanced civilization.
Computer generated from scans—a montage of Cambay’s lost city.
Controversy aside, who were these people? And what happened to them?
The evidence shows they were not the hunters and gatherers typically connected to small village settlements. This creates one big chronological problem and puts into question our currently accepted Earth timeline.
Some people of India believe the submerged structure to be the lost city of their popular Hindu god, Krishna. The story of the deity tells of a prosperous city Krishna built with 70,000 palaces made of gold, silver, and other precious metals. Upon his death, the city sunk into the sea.
Putting It Into Perspective
Far beneath, sunken and once lost, lies evidence of an advanced civilization that seriously challenges previously established and accepted timelines of Earth’s history.
The ancient Harappan civilization dates back 4,000 years and was thought to be one of three oldest known civilizations. Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia are the other two.
These city-states were geometric and had well-defined streets in straight lines with proper drainage. They had ways of conveying water with dams for water storage. In addition to this, they had a means of keeping their cities sanitary.
Possible Missing Link
Stone statue bearing a marked resemblance to Egyptian artifacts.
The discovery in the Gulf of Cambay may provide a missing link from lesser advanced man to such societies as the Harappan, Ancient Egypt, and Mesopotamia civilizations.
However, treacherous waters — with strong currents and riptides — have made exploration of the site difficult. BBC News reported the problems with excavation after the initial finding was made.
Plato’s Grand Cycle
Plato thought this grand cycle of the heavens influenced the rise and fall of civilizations. If Plato’s concept of the 25,800 year cycle is valid, did this lost city fall victim to The Great Year?
As we advance, as technology charges ahead to help solve such mysteries, perhaps we will find answers to the how, the why, and the who of these long lost, advanced societies.
And maybe, just maybe, we can prevent our civilization from becoming victims of The Great Year.
Video on the Cambay Ruins
Below is a YouTube video that touches on the findings in the Bay of Cambay. The viewer follows the journey of British author and journalist, Graham Hancock. He searches for evidence to support his unconventional theories involving ancient civilizations.
Hancock believes these discovered lost cities are much older than their current perceived origins. His discussion on the discoveries found in the Bay of Cambay start at the 41:00 minute marker. The video originally aired on the BBC network and runs a total of 48:19 minutes.
Quality is not great, blurry images and sound, but it is fascinating.
What do you think? I love hearing from you.
The Probe’s Mission Statement
The Probe is devoted to the exploration of the unexplainable:
- to finding the truth in occurrences that resemble science fiction
- to researching and reporting on topics that could be flung upon the wall of weird.
(I was able to find some excellent Beta readers, thank you Jessica, Rick, and 58. They offered several valid revisions. Therefore, I’m currently revising my Young Adult novel The Other Kind, yet again. I will continue to edit and revise until I get it just right. Thank you for your patience.)
Clara is creator of the popular Science Fiction novellas, “The Creep Mesquite Anthology.” It’s SyFy with monsters and a little romance, available on Amazon Kindle.
Scuba Diving in Gulf Shores – Concierge Review of the Down Under Dive Shop
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclaimer.
We recently had a chance to go scuba diving in Gulf Shores, Alabama, with Down Under Dive Shop. We came away genuinely impressed with their commitment to safety and professionalism. That was the gist of our TripAdvisor review, but this article is our full trip review to help you decide if diving in Alabama is for you.
Our Down Under Dive Shop Review
Let’s start our review at the beginning, from inside the Down Under Dive Shop. They’re a full-service shop offering complete scuba gear, rentals, and classes. They even set up dive trips to Florida and liveaboards, including the Aggressor Fleet and one of our favorites, All Star Liveaboards.
Their gear store has at least one of anything you might need, emphasizing spearfishing. Their rental gear is older but in decent repair. They also ensure a full rental checkout is completed before you leave the store. There’s a classroom in the back for classes but no on-site pool. With their gear discounts, availability of advanced classes, and ongoing travel, Down Under Dive Shop is doing a great job building a community of divers from everybody who gets certified there.
The Down Under Dive Boat
The shop’s dive boat, ubiquitously named the ‘Down Under,’ is custom 46′ Newton Dive Special powered by twin 375 hp turbo diesel engines. She’s fast enough to make it 26 miles out to the mighty Oriskany or a local offshore site and back in time for an afternoon inshore dive.
The boat was well equipped for day trips, with a waterline dive platform, two dive ladders, and enough fresh water for showers after your last dive. They had emergency oxygen and above and beyond the required safety equipment and brought fresh drinking water and snacks.
We were comfortable on the Down Under and enjoyed pulling under the beautiful Perdido Pass Bridge on the upper deck seating. With 72 tank holders on the boat, we had plenty of room to spread out and gear up. You wouldn’t confuse the Down Under for a luxury liveaboard, but it was bigger, faster, and smoother than your standard six-pack boat.
The Boat Crew
Bert Valle (AKA The Crazy Cuban) has been Down Under’s captain since January 2010. With over a decade of experience, he knows the intricacies of Gulf Shore’s dive sites. He also runs a tight ship with an emphasis on safety. Bert’s safety briefing was serious and on-point, and you better remember your C-Card, or you’re not diving.
Under Bert’s tutelage, the Down Under’s DMs were competent without arrogance. There wasn’t an in-water DM, but they did an excellent job laying out route lines on fairly complex dive sites and watching for divers from the deck. As a bonus, they did a thorough gear washing while we were en route back to the harbor.
The SanRoc Cay Marina
The Down Under dive boat launches out of the SanRoc Cay Marina, which is good and bad. On the bright side, there’s plenty of underground parking right by the boat, especially at 7:30 in the morning. However, it was tricky for us to find the first time. You’ll see the Steamer Restaurant and a sign directing you to the underground parking as soon as you pull into the marina. You have to trust the instructions and pull into the parking garage because you will not get a visual of the boat from your car.
The SanRoc Cay Marina is the closest commercial marina to Perdido Pass, but it’s 10 miles from the dive shop. You should arrive at your morning dive by 7:30, so you must pick up your rental gear and tanks the day before for a morning dive. This setup requires logistic considerations like arriving before the store closes (usually 5:00) and having a vehicle that can carry all the gear you need. Also, it would be handy to have a way to lock it up in your car at night, or you’ll be humping gear in and out of your hotel room. Also, you need to be absolutely sure you’re kitted up for diving when you arrive at the boat because there’s no way to get to the shop if you’ve forgotten anything.
Diving in Gulf Shores / Orange Beach
It seems like we’ve talked about every aspect of diving in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach except the diving itself. Down Under Dive Shop generally runs a two-tank dive trip in the morning and a one-tank, in-shore dive in the afternoon. There are a lot of charter options available, including:
- Inshore – (Two dives, 12-mile range, Depths 40′ to 80′)
- Offshore – (Two dives, 16-mile range, Depths 30′ to 100′)
- Lulu – (Two dives, 20-mile range, Depths 59’’ to 114’’)
- New Venture – (Two dives, 20+ mile range, Depths up to 120′)
- USS Oriskany – (Two dives, 26+ mile range, Depths 90′ to 130′)
The water gets clearer the farther out you go, and the diving gets more advanced. We did an offshore dive on bridge spans and chose to dive on nitrox because of the range and depth. There was a surface current on our first dive, so we had to hold tight to the dive line. There was very little visibility at the thermocline, but it opened up to 60′ once we got down to the site. There was plenty of life on the spans, including a bull shark sighting. The water was plenty warm when we were diving in late August, but we still appreciated a full body covering because of jellyfish, especially around the thermocline.
The diving was good for the Gulf, partly because of how far offshore the Down Under goes, but that made it a little challenging too. We suggest calling the dive shop ((251) 968-DIVE) and having an honest conversation about your comfort level and recent experience so they can get you on the right charter. This also gives them a chance to schedule nitrox classes or refresher dives if you want/need them.