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June 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Scuba Diving Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

the unseen enemy but just as deadly

from the June, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Competitive free diver Julia Wheeler, 31 was recently training off the coast of Bali when fellow diver, Trista Fontana, spotted tons of plastic garbage drifting toward them. When the video got posted on the internet, social media went wild. And so it should.

Besides the hazard to marine animals that mistake discarded plastic items for food, much of the plastic will contain the dregs of previous contents: not just human food, but even blood, urine, and chemical contaminants.

People have been discarding their unwanted garbage in the sea for centuries. If you were to dive among the antiquities being discovered in Alexandria harbor by Frank Goddio, you'd be well advised to wear a drysuit and a full-face scuba mask, such is the level of pollution.

The same can be said of much of the ocean, thanks to the growing world population. Last month, Undercurrent noted the risk of infection while diving Indonesia's Lembeh Strait, but this is not a problem unique to Lembeh, and in many tropical areas, the various pathogens encountered can be more virulent....

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