The ocean is an amazing wonderland; it’s almost like another planet. It’s rich with color and beauty and filled with many awesome and horrifying creatures. But for every harmless, shimmering fish floating by down below, there’s something deadly and terrifying lurking in the shadows, ready to ruin your day.
The vastness of this underwater world might be intimidating to some, but some adventurers can’t get enough of the big blue deep. Many enjoy getting up close and personal with the ocean’s wild by taking a dive and getting their scuba on. Most dives go off without a hitch, but not every diving experience is seamless. Some even threaten life and limb.
These diving stories will make you second guess the next time you want to jump in the ocean.
51. Please Don’t Follow This Example
Just going to start this off by saying I’m an idiot when it comes to sea life when I was little I would grab smaller moray eels, chase barracudas so I could watch them, would pet sea turtles with shells the diameter of 3′ or more, but one thing that really scared me was when I went down probably 20′ to grab a big conch shell I saw, and just as I grabbed it an octopus tentacle the width of my forearm grabbed my arm and squeezed me against the shell, I managed to pull it off me although it definitely was tough to do (octopus are really strong!) needless to say I surfaced, went back down to look at the perpetrator, then noped out of there while I still had all my fingers intact.
50. Just A Taste
I was diving a spear fishing spot about 30 miles off shore. I was 60 feet under water. There I was swimming along when I noticed them a school of Mahi Mahi. There were about 30 maybe 40 of them. These fish where all between 2 and 5 feet long. They were so beautiful with their sides flashing all different colors. That’s when I felt the tug on my leg. I looked down at my legs to see a 12 foot tiger shark pulling on my dive fin and taking me along for the ride. In a second he had ripped the fin off my foot. The shark then swam away but kept circling just at visual range. I think he was still curious about how I tasted. I kept an eye on him the whole time I was swimming back to the boat. Scariest moment I have ever had in the water.
49. Night Dives Are A Good Place To Make New Friends
Two buddies of mine and I were on a night dive in the Pugeut Sound hunting prawns. It was about one in the morning and we’re a good 100 feet deep, the pitchest black you could imagine. We used to do this thing on night dives where we’d get in a circle, turn off our lights, then stir up the water and watch the bio-luminescence float around us like floating stars in a black watery space. Beautiful. Only this one time we turn off our lights, stir up the water, and the water glows just enough to reveal a fourth person sitting in our circle.
We were at a dive resort so it wasn’t so odd to see another diver, only it was 1am–we’d seen no one else prepping a dive at the dock. He was also alone which was odd considering the dangerous conditions of a night dive in those waters, and he had no fins or gloves. I don’t know how he swam so well without fins or didn’t get hypothermia without boots or gloves. We wore drysuits because it was so cold but this dude was in a wet suit with exposed skin and we thought we saw a giant gash in one of the legs.
So the three of us all notice him and we’re too scared to move, I can hear my buddies panting in their regs, and the guy just smiles and waves, then swims away.
48. I don’t Eel Good
I was diving in Thailand and we were at a site diving where there were two steep hills underwater full of rock formations, coral etc. Between these two areas was a sandy bottom with scattered rocks ranging between the 1-5 meters across, all full of holes and full of life.
Were were swimming from one hill to the next and inspecting these rocks along the way. I was swimming along one large one when I get wacked in the side of my stomach very hard. It startled the shit out of me and I quickly back off. The dive instructor noticed and came over and we inspected what happened.
That’s when we saw a gigantic moray eel (I’m later told it was a Giant Moray). He was absolutely massive, never seen one so big. Was easily a couple meters in length and was probably as wide as my head. We assume I had passed too close without noticing and he attacked, he hit my BCD and luckily didn’t persist.
47. This Guy Could Have Used A Hand
I was diving with some friends and found a fisherman’s glove with a hand still inside it… We brought the glove to the local police and they told us that they hadn’t received any kind of report of a guy with a missing hand.
46. Cave Diving Should Be Taken Very Seriously
One of my first experiences cave (scuba) diving. I decided to go dive the cave with my buddy, since we’d done it earlier that day when conditions were great. We didn’t lay a line either (huge no-no) because there was a pipe along the floor of the cave, which we saw on our previous trip. We assumed this pipe began at the entrance and went straight back into the end of the cave (the owners installed it as a water vacuum to help clean the deepest parts of this cave). This day there had been a high volume of students diving the cavern (the large, open, beginning portion of the cave) which had churned up the silt till you could barely see. This is crucial, because the cavern portion is where you just “swim towards sunlight” on a normal dive. To add to our mistakes we dove in the evening, not realizing that the sun would have set when we were heading out. We began the dive confidently, trusting our misguided failsafe, and swam to the cavern. Both of us noticed how silty it now was, but figured “hey, you can still see the surface” thanks to the sun, and continue towards the cave. Once inside we swam down to the end of the cave (about 200′ back), turned around, and began to exit. The closer we got to the exit, the worse the visibility got, and by the time we noticed the “light at the end of the tunnel” wasn’t coming, the visibility was barely two feet. Undeterred, we grabbed on to the pipe and followed, hand over hand, to where (we assumed) the pipe would breach the surface, crawling along foot by foot, holding on to a pvc pipe on the floor. This was the point we hit a wall. Literally. This pipe, which we had assumed led to the surface, instead made a bend to a shallower passage of the cave where it entered the ceiling and disappeared. In the terrible visibility, we followed it into a passage we’d never seen before, in a part of the cave that was a complete dead end. Ill never forget the feeling of dread and panic that hit me, but the most memorable moment was making eye contact with my buddy as we both realized we were going to die. Most accidental deaths are instantaneous, but in cave diving you have the time to contemplate your fate as you watch your air pressure needle drop, and as panic started to set in, my air needle started moving towards zero. So we fought. Survival instinct set in, we refused to wait and drown, and instead started crawling, in near zero visibility, over every part of that cave to find the exit. If you watch the video below, you’ll notice there is a sign at the entrance warning people of the dangers of cave diving. It is ironic, but this sign saved our lives, as it’s oriented to face the entrance, a fact my buddy remembered, and gave us a point to try and blindly shoot towards the pitch black surface.
No surprise, it worked- we lived. And, one month later I “got back on the horse”- got cave certified, called a lucky idiot by my cave instructor, and learned to never make the same mistake twice.
45. Red Alert? Minor Jellyfish Sting Gone Horribly Wrong
Diving off of Pensacola, Florida… thousands of moon jellyfish. One stung me pretty bad on the arm.
For non-divers, you don’t see the color red the deeper you dive into the ocean. So while the sting, which went all up and down my arm, turned red/pink, all I could see was my arm turning black.
It was so freaky. When we finished the dive the boat captain said he had been doing that job for 20 years and it was the worst sting he had ever seen and that I was extremely allergic.
44. Seconds Away From Drowning
Night dive in Bali. The water was pretty choppy and we hung around the sandy bottom for a while before ascending. When I got up, I inflated my BCD and took off my mask so I could float on the surface and look at the sky. Suddenly my BCD abruptly deflated and I started rapidly sinking down to the bottom, cause I was wearing extra weights. Kept pressing the inflate button and it simply refused to inflate.
No mask, regulator out of my mouth, and pitch-black darkness. Flailed around a bit for my secondary and managed to swim upwards enough (literally paddled for my life) for my buddy to grab me. Turns out a bunch of sand got in my BCD when we were underwater and choked it up, so it didn’t inflate properly. It was horrible. I genuinely thought I was going to be pulled down and eventually drown before anyone could get to me.
43. Underwater Flash Photography Saves The Day
My parents are experienced divers and did a cave dive a few years before I was born. It was narrow and more of a winding underwater tunnel than a cave. The dive master went in first and then all the divers followed him with flashlights. My parents took the rear and halfway through the tunnel my dad’s flashlight miraculously dies and they are stuck in the middle of the pitch black tunnel (my mom was not carrying a flashlight). Then my dad remembered he had a camera with a flash which prompted them to navigate the rest of the cave a few feet at a time by using the flash to see where the divers ahead had kicked up sand. They made it out just fine about 15 minutes after the group, but the thought of being trapped in that cave scares me.
42. Every Diver’s Absolute Worst Nightmare
The scariest was being left behind on a dive trip in the Phillippines. After about 10 minutes of wondering what I was going to do, we saw the boat coming back and luckily was able to flag them down. It took everything I had not to strangle the guy in charge.
Another time diving in Monterey, I had a group of sea lions mess with me. They came to our area as we were very careful not to go near the seal rock jetty or breakwater. Three of them started swimming around me which I thought was cool, then they started bumping into me and smacking me with the flippers in the head and back. The dive master saw it and tried to intervene, but they took off.
41. Medical Emergencies Aren’t Limited To Land
I wasn’t there, but one of our friends in my old dive club had a heart attack 30 meters down and performed an emergency ascent.
He didn’t breathe out on the way up (he clenched his jaws) and he ruptured his lungs. He had the heart attack 15 miles from shore, too. Thankfully the dive team were trained extremely well and saved him, but even they said they were bricking it.
After the incident he sold me his new diving gear because he was limited to 12 meters max diving depth from that point onwards.
40. No Sudden Movements
My grandpa used to dive and he told me this story.
He went diving once with a buddy and he was about 30 or 40 feet down, he was observing all the beautiful fish when all of a sudden they disappeared. He and his friend were alone in the open water and then they saw why the fish had gone.
Three Barracuda were circling. The only option they had was to stay put. Eventually, the barracuda swam away and they were fine. I always imagine that opening scene of Finding Nemo when he tells me that story.
Bonus: he vomited through his mask underwater once, and it was like a buffet for the fish.
39. Full Moon Dives Can Be Spooky
Full moon dive in October at Cabo San Lucas, huge 10-foot grouper came up out of the dark, took my fin and tried to eat my foot! Freaked me out! My buddies enjoyed the show until he came after one of them. Don’t do moonlit dives anymore.
38. What A Time To Be Underwater
This didn’t happen to me, but my dive instructor.
He was diving in Indonesia when the 2004 tsunami struck. Completely oblivious to what was happening above him, he had no idea until he resurfaced to what can only be described as utter chaos.
37. Underwater Color Blindness Strikes Again
I was around 13 years old on this diving trip. My parents are huge divers and we go diving in various locations around the world. It was the first dive of the day in Cozumel (which I may add has some of the best wildlife I have seen) and we were going relatively deep, 90ish feet or so. We go down, and I end up getting a gash on my arm from some coral, nothing big, but I thought I was going to die as my blood looked green. What raced through my 13-year-old brain was that the coral I scratched myself on was toxic and that I would die 90 feet under water. Had a panic attack under water, and had to resurface while my parents helped me stay down so I wouldn’t get the bends. Turns out, red light waves cannot go that deep, and as I went up, I noticed that my blood was starting to turn more and more red. Until finally the dive master laughed and told me basic light physics.
TL;DR 13-year-old doesn’t know basic physics and red light can’t go deep underwater.
36. See Ya Later, Alligator
We were diving in a river in a city around Savannah, Georgia. We were looking for someones gun that that was thrown into the water to avoid detection. The water had zero visibility even though it was only about seven or eight feet deep, and we were basically using our hands and feet to scour the area. After about 45 minutes and a lot of boredom, something big swam past me. It never touched me but pushed the water around me enough to flip me head over heels. Imagine being underwater and pushing your hand past your face as fast as you can and feeling the water rush by. I felt four tugs on the tending line, telling me to surface, so I immediately tugged the line that was attached to my partner four times and started to ascend. When I got to the surface, the guys on the boat started screaming at me to get out of the water.
A giant gator was seen entering the water and swimming in our direction. Even the local guy was a healthy shade of green. Ten years later, I still think about the alligator I never saw.
35. Way Too Close For Comfort
I was on a shark dive in Fiji, and we were all just crouched behind a reef, not in a cage or anything. A big bull shark swam directly over me, close enough that it parted my hair. Got the ‘ol heart beating a little faster.
34. That One Has To Sting
Was diving off the Florida Keys a short while after Hurricane Earl hit in 1998. It was the end of the dive and I was in the process of ascending so I was mostly looking down until something caught my peripheral vision. Look up and there are HUNDREDS of moon jellyfish all around me. Apparently, the hurricane brought them in.
And yes I got stung.
33. A Cough Can Cause Some Serious Problems
50 feet under and 250 yards from shore, my throat got really dry from the canned air and I started coughing violently. It was all I could do to keep my regulator in and not inhale water. One of the three times in my life I gave myself up as dead and got lucky.
32. Do Sea Otters Pinch?
Top of Form On my first real dive after getting certified:
My cousin drove me to Monterrey and we dove at the same beach I got certified at. 5-10 minutes into the dive we’re greeted by a couple sea otters.
We’re right next to a jetty so I move closer to it and attempt to stay stationary so I can just sit and watch the sea otters. My cousin has been right above me the whole time so when I feel a poke/pinch on my armpit I think it’s just him or his flipper hitting me. I turn to look and see that he’s still above me. Adrenaline kicks in as the pinch has become stronger and I can’t see what’s touching me. I spit out my regulator (the mouth piece that provides oxygen) and tore my mask off in panic when the pinch started hurting. I tried spinning around but I was moving into an incoming wave and it felt like I was being held back as well. My cousin jammed his regulator into my mouth and turned me around again. I thought he was trying to hug me. He had his arms around me and then let go. He grabbed my regulator and his own and swapped them. Then he turned me around again. A giant spider crab was retreating into a crevice in the boulders behind me. My cousin said it had at least two claws on me when he saw me pull my mask off. He told me he understood my panic but he never took me diving again and I’ve never been diving again.
31. Lights Out
I was on a night dive which for the most part always have a creepy undertone to begin with, but this time I was looking around shining the light and out of nowhere a big barracuda is eye level with me maybe three feet away from my face staying completely still. My heart dropped, and we both just stared into each other’s souls until I realized I should probably slowly move away.
Funny now, but it was pretty creepy.
30. Always Trust Your Instincts
I used to be very into free diving (no oxygen tank) on the west coast of British Columbia. I trained myself over years to be able to hold my breath for over two minutes which is plenty enough time to see cool stuff. I used to take a paddleboard out from the beaches to get to the more remote parts of the coastline. I’d been diving for about an hour, feeling like something was watching me. I decided to call it a day and get back on the board. Five minutes into my paddle back, I look behind me and see three adult sea lions following the paddle board. Got the heck out at 10 kilometers per hour.
29. Tales Of A Diving Instructor
I am a diving instructor living in the FL Keys, have been down here teaching for several years, I am also a Master Captain and run several different dive boats in the area.
I can group my stories into animal, non animal, and human scares.
Animal: Did a night dive on the wreck of the Spiegel Grove. Excellent dive, checking out all the nudibranchs and urchins on a rail when I realize I was about half an inch from putting my hand onto a Scorpionfish. they are beautiful animals but have excellent cryptic camouflage.
Oh, and if you get stung by their spines it’ll probably make you pass out from the pain. I was told by a physician down here that they will just put you in a medically induced coma until the venom works its way out of your system rather than put your heart through the stress of the pain. I’ve been hit several times by Lionfish, distant cousins of the Scorpionfish, and they are pretty nasty. So almost grabbing a Scorp by the spines definitely made me pucker.
Non-Animal: Was cleaning boat bottoms for some side cash one winter. One trawler style boat was pretty awful and had almost no room at all to get under it to scrape the keel. As I’m under the boat with my tank just touching the mud and my chest just touching the hull I start to notice the hull moving a bit closer. Then I realize that my tank is lodged into the mud and the hull is starting to feel very unforgiving. Turns out the tide was starting to go out while I was underneath the hull and I was in very real danger of being slowly turned into a diver-shaped pancake. Thankfully my dumb ass wriggled out and quietly watched the boat sink down with the tide while reevaluating my life choices haha.
Human: Oh lord where to start. So many stories of watching students underwater. Knowing that they are about to panic and hoping you get over to them in time. having a regulator torn out of your mouth by a random guy that wasn’t watching his air. As a Mate I dove in after a lady who jumped in with too much weight on and no regulator (breathing device) in her mouth. Her eyes just watched us as she sank, the few seconds it took to reach her and help felt pretty stretched. As a captain, I can say that there’s nothing quite like the feeling of waiting for late divers. we give them times to be back on the boat so we can get back before Happy Hour. Man, when they are getting super late and you are scanning the waves with your binoculars for bubbles, it can get pretty tense. I’ve never had someone disappear on me yet (knock on wood) but I have had plenty of rescue situations where afterwards my hands would shake if I wasn’t holding the steering wheel.
Man, I could go on and on. There are days when I can’t believe that I’m getting paid to do this, and days where I can’t believe they don’t pay me more to do this. I still wouldn’t trade what I do for anything. Love the dive industry, even when it’s bad, this is still the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, and gut-punching place to live and work.
28. This Diver Should Have Thought Ahead
This isn’t scary. Well, it is, but it’s more funny than scary.
I was on a trip to Cuba with my family when I was 17 or 18. My dad and I went scuba diving one day but I decided to get absolutely wasted the night before.
So we pile onto the bus and head down a bumpy road and I’m happily barfing away into a plastic bag. We suit up and before I know it I’m underwater and feeling cured. That is until the end of the dive. I’m not sure what happened but at around 10 meters I started throwing up into my regulator. Do you know how hard it is to keep calm while clearing a regulator and trying to barf without inhaling? Very hard. All the dive master did was point and laugh.
27. Dangerous Diving Companions
A friend and I used to dive off Catalina Island, back in the mid 70’s, to sift through the bottom for lost jewelry and stuff. The water was incredibly clear back then and that made it easy to see the tiniest thing during the day, especially at noon. We were down one day and I was sifting through the sand when all of a sudden it went black and I was slammed hard to the floor, losing my mask and mouthpiece. I managed to find both, rolled onto my back to make it easier to clear my mask only to see a pod of whales overhead.
It was amazing that one of the whales dispelled 10 feet of water with its fluke with enough force that it felt like a truck was dropped on me. Careful not to get stuck between any of them, we got to touch them as they swam by.
Two weeks later we were out again and a shadow went over me. I rolled over to see the whales and watched a Great White going past. It disappeared in the distance then we called it a day.
A few years later we were diving and we had three orca swim by, but they didn’t seem to give us a second thought.
26. Nobody Told Me Bull Sharks Are More Dangerous Than Great Whites
I went to the blue hole in Belize on my second dive ever. We went down to about 135 feet and I was scared. No narcosis, thank god. Another 50 feet below us were a school of huge bull sharks just circling around. The guide had told us not to worry, so I tried not to. Made it back without incident, but won’t be doing that again…
25. Barracuda Tacos Are SO Good
I was on a dive tour in Isla Mujeres and as we were swimming away from the lighthouse we were engulfed by a school of huge barracuda. I tried to pantomime a biting motion with a shrug to the tour leader and he just gave a thumbs up, so we swam through them and they just parted for us to make way. I did go fishing the next day and caught a few and had some barracuda tacos and ceviche so I guess that’s what they get for trying to intimidate us.
24. He Just Wanted To Say Hello
I was free diving for abalone in Northern California and I felt a fin tap from behind, looked down to see a torpedo shaped creature rapidly swimming by. Oh shit. Then I looked up and saw a harbor seal staring at me from thirty feet away. As soon as we made eye contact, he submerged, got behind me, and did it again. He teased me for about ten minutes before getting bored or whatever.
23. That Thing Is Way Too Big
Our dive master took my buddy and I through a short limestone cave in Cozumel, maybe twenty feet from end to end at about thirty feet depth. As I emerged from the other end, I looked to my right and saw the most gigantic moray eel I have seen anywhere, including tv, three feet from my face. His head was about fourteen inches tall, and he was just hanging out, breathing, not acting aggressive at all. The dive master knew what he was doing, as these animals are territorial, and usually stay close to the same spot. this was a surprise treat he kept for divers he deemed experienced enough not to freak out.
22. What’s A Paddle Fish
PADI Open Water Certification dive in a large lake in the midwest USA. The instructor mentioned that if we were lucky, we might see a paddlefish, but with 10-15 ft visibility, it was unlikely. I had no idea what one of those looks like, and no one asked anything about them. Turns out they can be up to 5 feet long and have big gaping mouths and weird paddle-shaped snouts. But we didn’t know that.
Down at 30-40 feet, about 10 minutes from finishing the dive, a paddlefish swam out of the murk and directly at my face, with it’s mouth wide open. Nearly peed myself. It went right around my head and we didn’t see it again. Learned afterwards that they’re pretty harmless plankton feeders, but on my first dive in the water like that it didn’t seem that way.
21. What If I Had Been In My Dad’s Shoes
I was diving with my dad in Mexico…at that time he had 25 years of diving experience, I’d only just been certified and this was my first recreational dive after that. Since we were on vacation, we had to book with an outfit group. The boat/equipment/etc didn’t look high end, but it was about average for local outfits. A few minutes after descent, dad is swimming furiously to the dive leader doing the “no air” signal and, after a couple seconds of no response basically grabs the guy’s octopus rig. I don’t know if the dive lead was confused but he was grabbing at my dad’s hand as he reached for him. We ascended and he told me that his primary flooded and the secondary had stopped too, not sure what happened but oh my. Dad was pretty angry at the guy for it and for whatever the heck had gone wrong with the equipment, but otherwise unfazed. I was mostly confused underwater not fully understanding what I’d seen (I know that sounds dumb right after training but that’s how I recall it). The real fear set in later. What if I’d taken that rig? Just-trained, 19 years old, and experience only in close supervised settings…I don’t know if I could’ve reacted correctly, especially with someone trying to grab my hand. It was scary. I’ve only done a handful of dives over the last 19 years, and they were all amazing.
20. Cave Diving Is Really Dangerous
My dad grew up diving in South Florida. He became certified at a young age and specialized in cave diving. In fact, he mapped some of the underwater caves for local organizations. In his 20s, his good friend got married to a woman who happened to love diving just as much as my dad and his friend. One day the friend’s wife decides to go for a dive in one of the more complex caves they had been to. The wife and the other person she was diving with got lost in the cave and unfortunately never made it back up. When she never made it back home, my dad’s friend goes to the cave and dives in to look for her.
I think it was by himself, but I’m not sure since my dad didn’t talk about it much. Going solo is dumb, but I take it the guy was upset about his wife. Unfortunately, my dad’s friend never makes it back up either. So now with three bodies in the cave, the local police discuss the situation with my dad and eventually he goes down into the cave to recover all three of the bodies. He sometimes did cadaver dives for them in the past. I can only imagine seeing three of your close friends, dead in a very complex cave network, deep underwater, would be absolutely terrible. I think my dad quit diving after this as he never took me before he passed away.
19. Did I Say Shark?
I was snorkeling in open blue water 200 yards off a reef wall with a pod of dolphins. Noticed what I thought was a grey reef shark ~60′ below me which I’m perfectly comfortable around. It started swimming upwards in circles towards me. At first I thought, to myself, “wow, that’s a larger reef shark,” but as it continued ascending to about 30′ below me I instantly recognized the rounded/flat snout and striped pattern on it’s back. My heart rate quickened and breathing increased as I realized it was a 12′ tiger shark that was curious about me and continued ascending in a wide spiral at me. I immediately attempted to hail my boat captain who was 150 yards off using the “shark” and “come get me” hand signals, but he thought I was just waving and having fun watching dolphins (that were no longer within my view). In the back of my mind I thought, “Worst case scenario, maybe the dolphins will come and save me.” As my boat captain was unresponsive, and level of risk was exaggerated in my mind (since I’d never seen a tiger shark IRL), I realized that I would have to swim to swim to the boat. Swimming freestyle (with fins) I would take a few strokes and look down and back to keep my eyes on the shark. After doing this 3 or 4 times, the shark had reached the surface and was swimming parallel with me towards the boat about 20′ to my right. I even saw it’s dorsal fin breach the water. Then, as a result of the moderate chop and surface turbidity, I lost sight of the fish. Not knowing where it was freaked me out even more, and I broke into a full sprint towards the boat, no longer trying to keep my eyes peeled for it. I didn’t wait for the captain to put the ladder down and just hurled myself over the freeboard, nearly out of breath. I didn’t see the shark again.
18. Bombs Away
I was on a dive in the Philippines when we got hit by a shockwave from illegal dynamite fishing. It felt like someone hit me in the head with a sledgehammer and scared the crap out of me.
The instructor said that it’s happened a few times. Sound waves carry quite far underwater. He even spent a few weeks in hospital with severe injuries after getting hit by one that was too close.
17. Hunny I’m Home…
On my honeymoon, I went diving with my wife. It was a big outfit, and lots of people were on the dive (with minimal “training” I might add). At the bottom of the site, I saw an octopus under some coral. So I grabbed my wife’s hand and pulled her over to let her take a look. I floated there for a while, just enjoying the awesomeness of seeing another living creature going about its business.
And then this familiar looking woman swims up to me and gets her mask right next to my mask. One eyebrow is raised, questioningly. Oh crap! It’s my WIFE!!! I look at the person whose hand I’m holding, and it’s an adorably cute 17 year old girl (I’d find out those details later) in a swim suit very similar to my wife’s.
I played holdy-handy with a woman not my wife, on my honeymoon, and got caught at it. The look on dear wife’s face was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen underwater. (We laugh about it now, but back then she was an Erinye on a mission of vengeance)
16. Something In My Pants
I went snorkeling in Coron, Philippines on the shallow waters just enjoying the reefs. When I went back on the boat I felt something heavy inside my shorts. I thought it was just water caught up in there, so I shook out my shorts and a reef snake fell out. I freaked out but my sister was able to take a picture of the coral reef snake before it went back into the water.
Was diving once in Ontario (not with a tank or anything, just kinda hyper breathing to get myself to hold my breath longer), I came up underneath a dock… dock spiders… freaking everywhere… and I had to sit there until I oxygenated myself properly before slowly dipping down and every time I’d try opening my mouth to breath they’d try climbing in there.
14. Even Dive Training Can Go Horribly Wrong
Oddly enough, my worst incident happened in a training pool.
I was doing my rescue diver training and one of our little skill drills was a maskless breathing lap around the pool with a buddy. My buddy and I descended, got our first few breaths and started going. However, when I didn’t have the regulator in my mouth, another person descended on top of me and his tank clocked me in the head.
Obviously, I couldn’t see without the mask and was not breathing from the regulator, so when I gasped in shock, I inhaled a bucket of water.
It was probably only a few seconds, but it felt like ages of struggling to get out from under the guy, coughing, and swallowing pool water while trying to get the air supply. The instructor saw what happened and thrust his secondary into my mouth so I could surface. I spent the next ten minutes puking up pool water, but I eventually got back in and finished the training.
Closest to drowning I’ve come. It sucks.
13. The Opposite Of Panic
This isn’t a scary event per se, but I was once so relaxed during a dive that I almost fell asleep. It wasn’t nitrogen narcosis, either. I was only 40 feet deep and feeling fine, just relaxed. In hindsight, that’s actually really scary; scarier than when my BC started self-inflating or a remora tried to attach to me when I didn’t know what the heck it was.
12. The Diving Masters Lifeline
I was doing Lionfish research in the TCI where we would go to different depths and measure lionfish population size, size, and habitat preferences. Had a few close encounters with stubborn lionfish under massive coral mounds, but the scariest experience came from my DM.
Because of the nature of our research, we did transects in one direction, so our boat would do a live pickup wherever we ended up. (The boat would know our location as we would send up a safety sausage (inflatable marker that looks like a mini floppy tube that you’d see as a car dealership sale) and then ascend).
As we neared the end of one of our 100+ foot dives, I noticed my dive partner acting funky – definitely onset of becoming sufficiently narc’d. I’m watching out for her and trying to ensure she doesn’t get too close to the lionfish while my DM gets out the safety sausage to send up to the surface. As my DM blew up the safety sausage, the weighted component of the line (that let the safety sausage catapult to the surface while staying anchored at whatever depth we were) bounced off of something, knocked off her goggles and snorkel, and wrapped itself around her arm.
The safety sausage catapulted up, pulling up my DM.
Luckily I reacted quickly, grabbed her ankle as she shot upward, fully deflated my BCD, yanked her down and flipped around and started swimming as hard as I could downward. That gave her about 10 seconds as it still pulled us upward for her to wiggle her arm out of the line and free herself. I pulled her back down to the seafloor and she cleared her mask and just sat there, heaving, for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, I look over and see that somehow my narc’d partner had the DM’s lost snorkel in her hands. My narc’d research partner still believes to this day that she played an essential role in saving the DM’s life….
11. That’s Not Our Boat…
So it was my first night dive in Koh Tao. We were exploring the playground which is made up of sunken objects like toilets and climbing frames. At one point in the dive we turn our lights off so we are floating around in the pitch black, it was very surreal with the glowing plankton and weird structures. Amazing. Slowly it feels like we have gone off course a bit, now there is just sand, no underwater features or reefs, so we all decide to surface. Our dive master looks around and loudly says ‘thats not our boat is it?!’ Pointing to a boat more than two miles out to sea. The water is pretty choppy and seeing our very experienced dive master sound increasingly worried was terrifying. I reckon we were bobbing around for five minutes or so before we realise our boat was less than 100 metres away disguised by the lights from the island. 10 out of 10 will night dive again!
10. Should Have SAW That Coming
Top of Form
Cutting an 8-inch pipe with a reciprocating hydraulic saw in about thirty feet of water. The guy before me cut all but the last few inches of the pipe and called it a day.
I had never cut a pipe before. Before I got in, I asked the previous guy what was up.
He told me to stand on top of the pipe and push the saw down into the cut with one foot, while holding onto the crane straps that were attached to either side of the cut.
I jumped in, got down to the cut, and started up the saw. I had my face real close to the pipe, because visibility was inches.
I was going to make a few strokes to make sure the saw was lined up, then climb up on top.
After about twenty seconds of cutting, the pipe snapped, and hit me in the face. Well, in the faceplate. It put a nice nick in the face ring, and knocked me back a few feet.
Thing is, if anything had been behind me, I would have been crushed.
Bay Marchand, Louisiana
9. Scuba Diving Murky River Water
We were in a river in a city around savanna, GA. looking for a sidearm that was thrown in to avoid detection. The water was zero visibility even though it was only 7-8 feet, and we were basically using our hands and feet to scour the area. After about 45 minutes and a lot of boredom, something big swam past me. It never touched me but pushed the water around me enough to flip me over head over heels. (Imagine being under water and pushing your hand past your face as fast as you can and feeling the water rush by.) I felt 4 tugs on the tending line, telling me to surface, so I immediately tugged the line that was attached to my partner 4 times and started to ascend. When I got to the surface, the guys on the boat started screaming at me to get out of the water.
A giant gator, was seen entering the water and swimming in our direction. Even the local guy was a healthy shade of green. 10 years later, I still think about the alligator I never saw
8. The Fear Of Drowning
Was doing a live aboard off the coast of Cocos Island (Costa Rica) with my dad and brother about 6 years ago. I was maybe 20 and had been certified since I was 16, so although still relatively new, I had some decent experience. So one morning we are heading to a dive location, and the weather and water is fairly rough going. I didn’t think much of it because things tend to be a bit calmer below. This was not the case.
The group of us (about a dozen divers) and the dive master all enter the water and proceed to descend using a guideline. Visibility was poor (still wasn’t bad given it was CR), and the current was incredibly strong. You would literally be moved 15-20 ft in one direction and going against the current was nearly impossible. So I’m at the bottom (around 80ft) diving with my dad and brother, and I keep a constant eye on my dive computer. I know the threshold for what’s safe, and when to start to head to the surface, but with the current, the dive master wanted everyone to descend and ascend on the guideline around the same time. I see my air starting to get low and I knew I burned through it quickly due to the strain of the current, so I signal to my dad what my air level is at and that I think we should head up. Luckily, the group was all filing in line on the guideline and proceeded to slowly ascend and do their safety stops.
At the point, I was still relatively calm, but as I realized I was one of the last divers in line to go up, I started to get worried about air. Well to speed up this story, I essentially ran out of air at around 80ft, in strong current, and had to buddy breath with my twin brother on the way up. In retrospect, although running out of air is never good, I was still not in to life threatening of a situation (plenty of divers to buddy breath with, also not that deep if needing to emergency ascend), but the whole situation shook me up. When I got back to the main boat, I pretty much broke down, and other than taking a quick dive the next day to see if my nerves could handle it (they couldn’t), I haven’t dove since. I, however, told my dad recently I want to go diving again, and not let this incident ruin diving for me. For some sharks are their fear about diving (we actually saw some pretty large tigers, which I thought was awesome), but for me drowning is my biggest fear when diving, and in my eyes, I felt it almost happened.
7. A Sea Of Jelly
Was diving off the Florida Keys a short while after Hurricane Earl hit in 1998. It was the end of the dive and I was in the process of ascending so I was mostly looking down until something caught my peripheral vision. Look up and there are HUNDREDS of moon jellyfish all around me. Apparently the hurricane brought them in. And yes I got stung
6. Swimming In Mud
My scariest moment came when I was getting my open water certification in the Missouri River in SD. Looking back it really wasn’t that bad, but being the inexperienced diver that I was at the time it freaked me out. We were doing one of our last dives before getting certified. We were at about 40 ft and we ran into a mud storm under water. It was the weirdest thing. I don’t know what stirred everything up that bad down there, but it went from 10-15 ft visibility to not being able to see your hand if you held it in front of your face. My instructor had everyone hold onto a line so if that happened you knew where everyone was and where to go to get out. It’s amazing how spoiled you are getting to dive in the ocean compared to the river around here lol.
5. Quick Tales From A Police Diver
My Dad was a Diving Instructor in the 1960s for a police dept on Lake Ontario. The US Navy asked him to test out a new neoprene suit with a heated wire inside to warm him while under the ice. He described being under the ice saying that looking back up at the little round hole as your only exit is unnerving. It ended well but I could never ice dive.
Next, my son and I were doing a cert dive in the Caymans and while in 15 ft, we were learning to buddy breath. He offered the Octo to me and for some reason I breathed in before it was in my mouth. I took in salt water to my lungs and I knew not to bolt up. I looked at my instructor and although I tried to stay down and clear, I couldn’t. My reaction was too strong to get to the surface…where I puked up sea water from my lungs. I felt stupid but went back down and finished the dive.
My son and I are certified now just like my old man. He would have been proud of us. We still dive with his old compass and depth gauge.
4. Swimming Down Into The Abyss
I’m still pretty new to diving but last time I dived in Malaysia I was diving a site called T3 which is 3 huge rocks, you are basically swimming with a flat rock wall next to you. Suddenly for some reason, I got hit by vertigo and everything in my vision started spinning, the scary thing is that you can’t tell which way is up or down and sometimes you can end up diving deeper and deeper. Fortunately I’m a pretty calm person and although I was freaking out a little bit I thought that if I just followed my dive buddy in front of me then everything would be ok, eventually, my brain sorted itself out and the world stopped spinning. I’ve heard stories of people getting vertigo underwater and pulling their respirators out in panic. Scary stuff.
3. Take It As A Warning Sign
Diving Palancar Gardens in Cozumel in about 70 feet of water. It was a lovely drift dive and then a three-foot (give or take an inch) grouper swam into my field of vision. Something seemed off with its movement and then I noticed an 8-inch jagged bite out of its dorsal region. It kept swimming awkwardly with a faint trail of chum following. There were no other apex predators around but for the rest of the dive I was on edge. I would have been fine spotting a white tip reef or even a tiger shark. Not knowing though…
2. Diving Can Be Uncomfortable
It’s always scary when someone you’re diving with disappears for a few moments.
When you’re in a crowd it’s easy to lose someone; imagine how weird it is to lose someone you were literally a meter behind when there’s nothing else around you except a few coral bommies or whatever.
I have also had a couple of occasions where I’ve gone for a dive and within four or five minutes of being underwater felt extremely nauseous and with a massive headache. Any idea what it could be? I’ve been reluctant to dive again since just in case and I know I could check with a dive doctor, but the dive masters I was with had no idea what it could be and had never seen a reaction like that before.
1. Probably Not The Best Idea…
I lost my mask in a current and couldn’t get the attention of my group to let them know I was surfacing. Just inflated the BC and swam to the boat which was far away.