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November 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 44, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Craziest Things You’ve Seen on Dives

poop, sex toys and, of course, crazy divers

from the November, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In last month's issue, we asked what crazy things you've seen while diving. A few came back to us with stories of things they saw underwater that left them thinking, "WTF?"

"Green Torpedoes Coming at Us"

Many tales show how it's marine life that surprises in the most unexpected ways. Marc Lippman (Miami, FL) tells us how an octopus in Belize called his bluff. "My older daughter is my 'spotter,' and suddenly she went into point mode. We swam over to see what she was looking at. It was an octopus down in the antlers of a staghorn coral.

"I took out my dive knife and, holding it by the blade, I offered the handle to the octopus, hoping it would put a tentacle on it and then, with a finger on its tentacle, I could coax it out. The octopus did grab the knife handle, but I couldn't hold onto the blade, so now we had an armed octopus holding us at bay. Eventually the creature made its escape with my knife, which it later dropped."

The bioluminescence of plankton at night streaming off the bodies of sea lions or dolphins in motion can make them look like alien spacecraft underwater. It's a common sight in the Galapagos Islands, but Clayton Fuller (Coronado, CA) wasn't prepared. He describes the hair-raising scene of "green torpedoes coming at us" and the boat as they made their way between Wolf and Darwin Islands. The pod of dolphins veered right and kept on going.

Mike Panek (Boca Raton, FL) sent us a photograph of a yellowtail swimming about normally but greatly disfigured by a massive hook caught in its mouth. Panek called it "the fish who cheated death." Maybe it was able to feed efficiently. We're thinking it suffered a deferred demise, unless someone else sends in a new photo of it.

Sharks Don't Want Saving, Only Spearguns

It's annoying to see a diver interfering with the animals, particularly when that person thinks he or she is saving the day. While diving in Saba, Fredda Lerner (Annandale, VA) and her husband watched as some reef sharks became interested in a little coral head, and one eased itself into it while attempting to seize its catch.

"To our amazement, another diver decided to swim over to the coral and drag the shark out by its caudal fin. Luckily, the shark was so freaked out, it swam quickly away. Our instructor could not believe it. What the heck was she thinking? After the dive, we asked her what she thought she was doing. She said she was afraid the shark was drowning, so she was saving its life by pulling it out of the coral. Hello, really?"

Many divers like to get up close with sharks but as shark wrangler Stuart Cove likes to remind us, they are predatory animals with lots of sharp teeth, so they need to be treated with respect. But it's easy to feel some smug satisfaction when sharks make annoying divers learn that respect through some mild fear tactics (with no bites involved). Edward Noga (Akron, OH) tell how he and a friend were diving on a tugboat wreck off Hatteras, North Carolina, when they were confronted by another diver racing up from depth, eyes wide with fear.

"He had been spearfishing, and the sharks had gone after his bagged fish. The genius had attached the bag to his weight belt and couldn't get it off, but that was not dissuading the sharks. I cut it off and let the sharks take it, but going for a Darwin Award, the guy decided to try to recover the bag and tease the sharks. Back on the boat, the imbecile said he tried to poke the sharks away with his speargun, but one shark grabbed it from him and took off. Someone went and found it for him later."

The Red Sea Wins for Crazy Tales

People, of course, can offer even greater surprises in the water due to their wide range of behaviors. Somehow, a lot of their tales happened while diving in the Red Sea. Khaled Kenawy (Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt) made a video of an underwater fistfight between an Egyptian dive guide and the visiting British diver he found pillaging an artifact from the 19th-century wreck, SS Carnatic. While attempting to persuade the diver to put the object back where he'd found it, the dive guide had his regulator ripped from his mouth. That act earned the perpetrator a fine, some time in an Egyptian cell, and the suggestion that he not return to Egypt. And of course, the video went viral on social media.

Returning to her liveaboard, MV Rearis, Farzi Mireskandari (London, UK) was doing a safety stop near the stern with her buddy and looking up through the clear water to keep an eye on where they were in relation to the boat. They could clearly see the two stainless steel stern ladders leading up to the swim platform, glinting in the sunlight. But without warning, another object broke through the surface: the white backside of the boat's skipper, an Austrian named Tony, followed by a man-sized turd Tony had released into the water. "Not many people get to see such a sight from below, whether diving or not," Mireskandari wrote. Let's hope not.

Equally startling but less amusing, Undercurrent senior editor John Bantin once saw a fully equipped diver in tow with his girlfriend, who was wearing only a bikini but no dive gear, and breathing off his octopus rig at 100 feet deep near the wreck of the SS Thistlegorm. They both made it back to the surface, but what a foolhardy move.

Less chilling to Bantin was the sight of a large group of male divers conducting some sort of celebratory dive in the nude. The disastrous effect of cold water was equally apparent among the assembled company.

"A gratifying observation," says Bantin.

Lost and Found: Top Dawg and Dildos

It's amazing what you can find by accident underwater. Luke Inman (La Paz, Baja California) was with a group of rebreather divers at El Bajo in the Sea of Cortez when they stumbled across a new Top Dawg video camera housing. After a dive and drift lasting more than two hours, they surfaced a long way from where they started, but decided to go back to see if there was any other boat over the site looking for that camera gear.

When they got back, they indeed found a boat carrying a dejected diver who had given up hope. When Inman's group asked if he had lost anything, the diver said it was no point in them looking because he and his friends had been searching for hours.

Inman asked if it was a Top Dawg housing with a Sony camcorder inside. The diver remained exasperated, saying he told them it was lost and there was no way they could find it, despite their rebreathers. It had fallen off the deck when his boat had arrived at the site.

"Did it have Radio Shack batteries in it?" Inman asked, at which point the camcorder's owner finally got a clue, realized the rebreather had his Top Dawg, and finally cheered up.

A less happy ending: During an underwater clean-up in Lake Erie, Georgann Wachter (Avon Lake, OH) came across a discarded sex toy. When Wachter surfaced, there was no person waiting to see if someone had rescued it.

-- Ben Davison

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