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SCUBA-L  September 1999, Week 4

SCUBA-L September 1999, Week 4

Subject:

Watch out for the Noahs

From:

Christian Gerzner <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scuba diving discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 23 Sep 1999 17:03:02 +1000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (170 lines)

What follows will appear in the November edition of my club's journal.
Its a salutary tale.
 
An account of an incident which happened whilst diving from the Terrigal
Underwater Group=92s club boat on the 18th September, 1999 on the
shipwreck of the Galava (50msw/164fsw).
 
A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend and I commented that deco
stops on the Central Coast wrecks used to be an interesting part of the
dive. =93In the old days we could see lots of interesting salps, jelly
fish, and other transparent creatures drifting on the tide, Kingfish
circling were also common, and seeing an occasional shark was always a
highlight.=94 This last suggestion brought a look of horror from my
friend who could not understand the uniqueness of such an encounter.
 
We hadn=92t dived from the TUG boat for many weeks due to the great
weekend weather that we have been having, so it was good to be heading
out of the Haven with the regular Saturday morning crew. Greg radioed to
the Coastal Patrol and received the parting gesture of =93watch out for
the Noahs=94. Yvonne thought this was an unusual comment but learnt
something new when it was explain that it was Aussie rhyming slang for
shark (Noah=92s Ark =96 Shark).
 
On the way out to the Galava there were lots of sea birds swooping in
the wind and diving and feeding on schools of fish that were being
preyed upon by larger fish.
 
Greg and Yvonne must have known what was in store for the remainder of
the day and quickly agreed to dive first. At the end of their dive
Yvonne surfaced first and she was ecstatic about the dive and the viz
and the deco. The water was clear, there were lots of big Wobbies on the
bottom and they had seen a shark on deco. =
 
 
With this great omen of a good dive to come for us. Lyn and I geared up
and dived, no sharks on descent and the viz was great, about 50 ft on
the bottom and the sun was shining, so providing lots of light. I took
photos, I found a Star Gazer, we saw the big Wobbies and had a
thoroughly good dive except the deep ones are always too short. =
 
 
At a depth of 164 ft we had planned a bottom time of 20 minutes with
deco of:
5 minutes @ 40 ft, =
 
5 minutes @ 30 ft
8 minutes @ 20 ft
20 minutes @ 10 ft =
 
 
At 40 ft we settled in to watch all the beautiful salps and jelly fish
passing by, the water was full of interest but the viz had dropped to
about 20ft. A Bronze Whaler shark appeared on the edge of vision and
circled, then came to within 10 ft, swimming gracefully. It was good to
see, we watched it come and go throughout the 40 ft stop. =
 
 
At the 30 ft stop a shark returned, but it wasn=92t the same shark so I
realised that there were two sharks!!! After only a few minutes they
both showed themselves but they had brought a friend!!! This was less
controllable but still didn=92t appear to be a problem. They were moving
more quickly but not aggressively fast. They came closer but turned
without any gestures from us. Again it was an interesting sight watching
them move, the copper sheen coming from their backs, and their eyes
following us as they moved past us. =
 
 
On reaching the twenty foot stop I thought that the same may continue
and I really hoped that they weren=92t going to become more familiar, as
it occurred to me that we still had a lot of deco time to complete
before we could safely leave the water. =
 
 
ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!!!!!
 
Sharks appeared from everywhere. They were swimming very quickly and
they were rushing in towards us, only turning at the last second or when
we lunged forward at them. I felt a thump in my back. It was Lyn, she
had left her shot line to join me on mine, back to back was probably
safer anyway. Or maybe the motto =93dive with a buddy because there is a
50/50 chance the shark will take your buddy=94 prompted her to get close=
r
to me, so the sharks knew she had a buddy. Whatever the reason we were
together in a no win situation. Stay and get eaten, or surface and get
bent. I used the camera quite effectively for something for which it was
never designed but it worked well. A picture may be worth a thousand
words but a solid Aquatica housing certainly persuaded more than one
shark that my interest in their beauty and grace was waning. They were
now extremely aggressive. =
 
 
They stopped. We had time to gather our thoughts and to discuss
surfacing. I decided against. I wanted more deco time before risking the
bends and was hoping the sharks had gone for good or at least the next
30 minutes. Wrong!!! =
 
 
They returned in less than a minute and as aggressive as before. We made
moves toward them to divert their attacks. This worked but they
continued. There were about eight to ten sharks between 6ft and 9 ft in
length in close and around us, on the edge of vision I could see more. =
 
One of us was going to get bitten before we could complete our deco and
that would be the end. Any form of control we now imagined we had would
be lost at the first bite, so I signaled to Lyn to surface. She did, I
waited as I didn=92t want to be on the surface waiting for the ladder. Th=
e
sharks stayed with me. I could see scars on there sides, their eyes
rolling as they passed inches away. When I look up, Lyn was out of the
water so I surfaced. The sharks didn=92t follow. =
 
 
Now we had an equally dangerous situation to deal with but we had others
to help us and we could control this problem to a small degree. Yvonne
and Greg had Lyn out of her tanks by the time I climbed on board, they
had been totally unaware of the situation happening below. Greg had the
oxygen out and connected by the time I was out of my gear. Lyn and I lay
on the floor breathing oxygen while Greg and Yvonne made the boat ready
for travel. Greg suggested continuing deco in shallower water or calling
an ambulance. I considered that we didn=92t have enough oxygen or air to
safely complete the additional deco required for the 24 minutes that we
had missed so I opted for the ambulance. Greg radioed Coastal Patrol and
they did the rest.
 =
 
The ambulance arrived at the same time as we arrived back into the
Haven. We transferred to the ambulance and they transported us to
Gosford Hospital breathing oxygen all the way. We had no symptoms. At
the hospital we breathed oxygen all afternoon without any symptoms. The
staff carried out tests to determine if anything was wrong and concluded
that we would probable be OK. We were told to monitor how we felt and to
take it easy.
 
I did get symptoms on the following day and at the time of writing have
had two trips in the chamber and hopefully only one more to go. Lyn has
been OK. =
 
 
I would like to thank lots of people who have helped and been so
supportive. =
 
 
Thank you so much to Yvonne and Greg who functioned in a stressful
situation to get us safely and quickly from the water to the safety of
the Ambulance. =
 
 
Praise must also go to the systems that have been put in place on board
TUG II and maintained by the members of TUG which made the exercise
safer and, I am sure, easier. =
 
 
Thanks to the Terrigal Coastal Patrol for their radio monitoring and for
contacting the ambulance. =
 
 
Thanks to the ambulance drivers from Terrigal Ambulance station and the
staff at Gosford Hospital. =
 
 
The only real tragedy on the day and the first question that Robb
Westerdyk asked=85 =
 
 
Did I get any photos??? =
 
 
No, apart for hitting the sharks with the camera, it was useless, I had
used all of the film on the dive!!!

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