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August 1997 Vol. 12, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Robert Palmer Lost in the Red Sea

from the August, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Rob Palmer was not a novice diver. He was one of Britain's leading technical and cave divers, best known for his exploration and writing on the Blue Holes in the Bahamas. He was a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and well known in the U.S. But something went wrong on his last dive.

While in Hurghada, Egypt, for a technical diving conference, Rob and his companions, suited with doubles, along with a sling tank of Nitrox for the planned deco stop, went over the side of the boat into the Red Sea to do a deep wall dive.

Once in the water, instead of swimming over to the wall, Palmer was seen headed straight down into the blue. One companion raced after him but gave up at 210 feet. Two other divers continued the chase to around 325 feet. Unsure if he was out of control or not, they reached a depth where they had to stop and watch Palmer disappear below them. According to reports, because of luggage lost in transit to Egypt, Palmer was using borrowed equipment, but because he had used the same equipment the previous day and because of his diving experience, it's considered unlikely that he would have been unable to control his buoyancy. The more plausible theory is that Palmer experienced a medical problem such as a heart attack once he had entered the water.

J. Q

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