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October 2000 Vol. 26, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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If They're Going to Feed the Fish, At Least Teach Them to Dive

from the October, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dear Editor,

After a trip to Cozumel, my wife and I observed that the skill level of better than half the divers we encountered was terrible. Have the certifying agencies in their haste to broaden their numbers become so lax in their training that it has become more a chase for dollars than for skill and safety?

One diver was a certified instructor. During the dive, a divemaster had to grab hold of him and let air out of his BC so that he didn’t rocket to the surface. Two of his students (both with more than 25 dives) just flailed in the water — no control of their buoyancy, no respect for the environment, crashing into coral and sponges, octopuses not secured, consoles dragging, just dangerous to be around. We had a group from another dive operation descend upon us out of control, divers just shooting by us.

I spoke with a couple at our hotel during happy hour as they were ordering their third piña colada; they were excited about going on a night dive in a couple of hours. Did they miss that session about being in control and the negative effects of altering your chemistry before diving? Or the young diver we met who had just gotten his Ph.D. in chemistry, had been diving 10 days in a row, two, sometimes three, dives a day. He discounted the necessity to off-gas and was flying home less than 24 hrs. after his last dive.

Now some organizations want to lower the age for junior certification. How responsible is this? With the level of training people are receiving, accidents, injuries and deaths are bound to increase, and that opens the door to unwanted regulation. Many programs are a revolving door, and too many people are coming out of that door unprepared for what lies ahead. That spells trouble for all who dive. The certifying agencies need to police themselves and raise their standards before someone does it for them.

- Gerry McAtavey

Roanoke VA

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