Monday, December 4, 2017


The video I made first with my complete argument:


The thread where the conversation takes place:


Google Alerts sent me a notice that 400 divers are going to attempt to hold hands to form a human chain in order to break a world record.

Victorian Scuba Divers to Link Arms for Guinness World Record Attempt

I'm contacting you as it seems that this event goes against the spirit of protecting our oceans.

While it would be amazing to see 400 divers in equipment get together outside of a business conference, these divers are not planning to do this on the sidewalk or on the sandy beach.

If 400 divers are planning to enter the water in the same location, not only will this be unprecedented, but it is surely going to be devastating for the environment. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, and the business opportunities are surely to be significant, but as stewards of the sea, this seems like it's not going to turn out to be as benign as you are planning for.

We know how important good buoyancy is, so it makes me wonder how can a leader in the industry sanction this event if everyone will not be neutrally buoyant and off the ocean floor during this attempt?

How are you going to mitigate any damage to the environment, the refuse of 400 divers gathering in one spot, and what will you do about any damage that is caused? 

Everyone surely wants to be careful about the inevitability of damage, however I fear that some shops or manufacturers that don't participate or even could advocate against participation, might be looked at not being "team players." 

While this would be a great opportunity to run some buoyancy classes, there is not enough time at this point... and as written in your document:

"We acknowledge it is not the best display of buoyancy..."

"You must be correctly weighted to do this. Do not risk the success of this event by being under-weighted."

•When directed to do so, everyone will descend and hold onto the line on the bottom.  Fully deflate your BC and kneel on bottom. You must be negatively buoyant. For this reason we have chosen the sandy sea-floor. We acknowledge it is not the best display of buoyancy but breaking the surface means the attempt becomes null and void. This means everyone is to be on the seafloor. You must be correctly weighted to do this. Do not risk the success of this event by being under-weighted.

Wow! I can only say that this is promoting poor buoyancy and being over-weighted... This doesn't seem like the kind of world record that needs to be broken when it directly goes against athe foundational tenets of scuba diving!

Another consideration is that this stretch of beach cannot be without animal life under the bodies of those divers... While some animals might not be bothered by the effect, what kind of impact study has been done to determine the effect?

I would appreciate your feedback.

-- Carlos Aguilar


A response from Kat Vcelka, Vice President of DIVA.

"Hi Carlos. It’s great to see someone so passionate about the oceans. Im the Vice President Of DIVA that helped put the event together. 

I’m unsure if you are familiar with the location,  or were there on the day as we did this attempt. 

Although I agree that this is a large number of divers to descend on one site at a time, I assure you that all environmental factors were taken into account. Divers walked in over a stretch of sand that would have been no different to the hundreds of people playing on the sand bank in summer. They then had a 50m surface swim to where we had a line. This line was placed in the sand parallel to the shore. It was not placed on top of reefs and specifically placed with the reduction of environmental impact in mind. Divers lowered themselves onto the bottom and onto the sand and were encouraged to be ‘correctly weighted’ not overweighted like you state. Being negatively buoyant does not mean being overweighted. 

For safety of the divers, and to minimise disturbance of the environment, it was important that divers were on the bottom. As divers lowered themselves down to the sand any animals would have been able to move themselves. 

This event was conducted taking into account many factors. We prioritised safety and the environment in all of our workings. I commend all of the organisational committee and the divers who took part in the event for their diligence and taking these two important matters into account. 

Dive adventures and the other sponsors had nothing to do with the organisation of the day. They generously gave their time and donations to help the Victorian Dive industry. For their generosity we cannot thank them enough. 

I thank-you for being an ocean advocate and hope that my message helps elevate your concerns. I am more than happy to discuss this further if needed. I will private message you my number should you want to use this. Yours in Diving. Kat."


My response to her.

I appreciate the response. Your answers are logical and appropriate, but you've missed the crux of the concerns I addressed. 

The first is that kneeling on the ocean floor was necessary. Impact to the environment is minimal during an open water class, but still problematic. Increase that to 400, and it's worse, it's a precedent. Every certifying agency believes in the premise of as little impact as possible. With that said, while it may have been impossible to get 400 divers to be neutral at once, being neutral is the outcome of all programs, among other skills. Even if we conclude that the same amount of impact would occur standing on the beach, we are terrestrial beings and standing on the beach is appropriate. As guests in the ocean, standing, kneeling, and kicking up silt is unacceptable. DIVA acknowledged that this was not the best use of buoyancy in the literature. You know that's an issue but temper it with it being an acceptable price to pay for the success of the event and it justifies it.

Furthermore, proper weighting wasn't as much of a concern as much was kneeling on the ocean floor, but DIVA voiced that if the diver was not properly weighted that the attempt could be jeopardized. This statement would be more likely to sway inexperienced divers towards being heavier than they need to be. But that too is not the greatest of my concerns.

I didn't mention it in my post, but, one particular instruction was. It had to do with divers that might need "assistance."

DIVA's plan stated, "If you have a problem that cannot be immediately rectified without breaking chain, please back away from the line and surface, heading towards the beach." This makes sense, of course, but that's followed by "If you require assistance wave your arms." 

Waving your arms is NOT a call for assistance. It's the call for help! It made me wonder if the event would have continued while safety divers attended to the diver that requested "assistance"? What if it was a real emergency? How would one differentiate between "assistance" and "help" since the same signal is being used?

Think about this for a moment... How would those divers have felt if they later learned that they did nothing while someone needed more than assistance but actual, real help?

While it's obvious that my opinion differs than the ones that participated as well as the organizers, saying that getting 400 divers together to create a chain could only have taken place if the rules and/or guidelines we teach students were changed, diminishes the hard work of the instructors that taught their students that being on the ocean floor is not acceptable. That gives credit to instructors that didn't teach this to their students and only exemplifies a huge problem currently present in today's training. There are numerous videos of divers who's skills are already in critical need remediation or retraining.

Proper skill execution (being naturally buoyant and off the ocean floor) is ALWAYS necessary, and I think that's what's been lost in the final outcome of this new world record. 

I don't believe it should have been necessary for me to have to try to convince the organization that the actions were wrong -- they should know better!

So here we are... what happens now? I continue to train my students the importance of good buoyancy, staying off the ocean floor, and the correct use and meaning of hand signals, while DIVA, Scubapro, SSI, PADI, AUP, Aqualung, Mares, Dive Adventures, Rye Hotel, and Redboats start again (The event is over, NOW, stay off the bottom).

I'd love to continue this conversation, but in my opinion that would mean that everyone would have to start by admitting they didn't quite give enough thought to the bigger picture. 



A response from Kat Vcelka, Vice President of DIVA

"Your opinion is noted Carlos.  I'm not going to get into a message-a-thon.  The event was conducted with dozens of qualified professionals and rescue divers, ensuring that all divers were taken care of.  Safety of all divers was paramount and the event was well executed with this in mind.  400 divers achieving neutral buoyancy together was going to be impossible.  I'm unsure if you were on the beach when the briefing to all divers started.  The first thing that was said that the safety of the divers is paramount.  Not getting the record."


A response from Kat Vcelka, Vice President of DIVA

"I believe that any one with common sense knew our intention and what kind of a logistical challenge it was to ensure all were safe, with minimising impact to the environment.  Not settling the divers on the bottom would have impacted on safety and the environment greatly, so although I understand your intent, what you say would not be possible on this day and would have been greatly detrimental to the environment, as well as the safety of the divers attending.  Common sense and the briefings given stated that settling on the bottom was a once off suggestion purely for this event.  Everyone was placed on sand and well away from the reef.  I have been teaching for over a decade and was a diver on the event.  There was no damage to the environment and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who attended that would now change their diving to 'sit' on the bottom of a normal dive.  As for hand signals, again this is for a situational dive.  Having someone wave their hand in the air if they need assistance when there are 364 divers on the surface is a sensible thing to do as they could potentially get lost in the sea of divers.  You are entitled to your opinion and I would encourage you to give me a call or an email at with any suggestions on how you would conduct such an event so that we can take this into account for future activities."


AND HERE IT IS...!!! SHIFTING THE RESPONSIBILITY AWAY FROM THE ORGANIZERS AND PASSING IT TO THE DIVERS. "I believe that any one with common sense knew our intention..."



I WON'T ASK DIVERS TO BEND THE RULES ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS. END OF DISCUSSION...!!! "...suggestions on how you would conduct such an event..."

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