COMMENTARY: "Victorian scuba divers to link arms for Guinness World Record attempt"
Victorian scuba divers to link arms for Guinness World Record attempt at Rye Pier. Sponsored by Diving Industry of Victoria Association on December 2, 2017
#guinessbookofworldrecords #ryepier #perfectbuoyancy #overweighted #divingindustryvictoriaassociation #worldrecordevent #diveplanning #stewardsoftheocean
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.
The discussion continues. I put it all on a follow-up blog, here:
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