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January 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Six Deaths in Five Days Call for Tougher Aussie Standards

from the January, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Older divers need medical examinations, and Australian training standards should be reviewed after six diving and snorkeling deaths in the space of five days during November 2016, says the president of the Australian Underwater Federation, Graham Henderson. As the diving industry is ageing, older people have the will and money to take it up as a hobby, and he is concerned about the variation in dive course quality.

To be honest, some of the courses ... are pretty minimalistic," Henderson said. "The Australian standards need to be looked at and talked about more. Probably an age requirement to have a diving medical [exam] would be well worthwhile."

Henderson said people were moving away from diving and snorkeling in large groups or clubs [and diving independently], which increases the danger if something went wrong.

The Aussie deaths included a man in his 40s, snorkeling with two people when he got into trouble and was assisted onto a boat in New South Wales, but died at the scene. Another man who was scuba diving with his friends in Victoria died after he was reported to be in distress, a 49-year-old Tasmanian man died while diving, while a 60-year-old Englishman died during a Queensland diving trip.

Deadly jellyfish stings are being touted as a possible cause of the mystery deaths of two French tourists snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. Jacques Goron, 76, and Danielle Franck, 74, were found floating motionless in the water at Michaelmas Cay within minutes of each other while snorkeling. They died in front of their relatives, not long after the pair entered the water. While it's believed they suffered heart attacks, Sydney cardiologist Dr. Ross Walker has speculated an Irukandji jellyfish could be to blame because it was unlikely two people would die of heart attacks so close together. (Australian Associated Press)

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