5 Diver Problems and Learnings

Scuba diving is a thrilling and distinctive experience that allows you to explore an entirely new underwater world. However, just as with most things in life, you can encounter difficult circumstances underwater, therefore it is better to be ready to respond in case they happen, however unlikely they may be.

In order to be of assistance, we are presenting five difficult diving circumstances that either we or our close friends have experienced, along with our lessons learned, in the hopes that you will be prepared should something similar occur to you.

Aggressive Marine Life

In the summer, when we were diving with a dive group on the Great Barrier Reef, our dive guide warned us to avoid the triggerfish because it was the time of year when they lay their eggs. This advise was disregarded by one of our divers, who went swimming close to a Triggerfish nest. Fortunately, the diver was assaulted by a triggerfish that bit onto his fin and the diver was able to shake the fish loose before ascending to the surface.

  • Pay close attention to what the dive masters advise. If they advise staying away from a certain region, pay attention and obey!
  • Do not bother marine wildlife. You are there only as a spectator.
  • As Triggerfish guard their nest by forming a cone-like structure from the nest up to the surface, in this particular circumstance the diver should have swum horizontally rather than up. You can swim away while keeping an eye on the animal by using your fins to create more space between you and the animal—in this case, a fish.
  • Make sure the dive shop you are diving with has a good reputation, and make sure their boat includes first aid and oxygen supplies in case you are hurt.

Equipment Mishap

We had gathered around along the diving line as the night dive was coming to an end. Depending on how much air we still had, the dive guide would switch around who we were buddies with. While those with more air could continue the dive, those with less air would climb. My husband and I parted ways; he would stay for a deeper plunge while I was ascending. Unaware at the moment, I kicked the regulator out of his mouth as I began to ascend. He was fortunate that his new friend was around since she assisted him in getting his regulator back.


  • Before going underwater, you must do buddy checks to ensure that both your equipment and your companion's equipment are in good operating order.
  • Make sure to look about before starting your ascent after a dive to make sure no one is in danger.
  • Keep a safe distance from people even though it's vital to be close to them (particularly during a night dive).
  • Keep a tight eye on your companion and be ready to assist them if necessary.
  • Remember your fundamental abilities and safety instruction, such as how to retrieve your regulator and take off and remove your mask.

Boating Accident

Our friends had taken a day boat trip and were diving with whale sharks in Belize. Unluckily, one of the divers in their group was injured when they were struck by a boat propeller during a boating mishap, causing a brain injury. The journey back to shore took forty minutes, after which the diver could be taken to the hospital. The biggest issue was that the dive boat was devoid of first aid gear.


  • Verify the reputation of the dive shop you are diving with and that their boat is equipped with first aid and oxygen.
  • Let boats know you are in the area diving, always dive with a dive flag.
  • Keep an eye on your surroundings, be aware of your depth, listen for any potential threat, such as boats, and keep an eye out for them when diving, especially when you're close to the surface.

Drift Dive gone wrong

Friends of ours were participating in a guided drift dive in Bali (which is a place notorious for strong currents). It was very challenging to stay with the dive guide or locate a secure place to grab onto a rock or piece of dead coral without wasting a lot of air and energy because no one else in the group had been handed a reef hook, which hooks onto the reef to prevent you from drifting too fast.

They eventually veered in front of the guide. They came to a stop and waited on a ledge that was about 12 meters deep and had a steep drop off on one side. They were carried by the stream slightly into the blue, 12 meters off the ledge, without much notice. They didn't mind this because they thought they might see some "large" fish, but they quickly ran into problems trying to get back to the wall.

Unfortunately, a down current carried them both to a depth of around 30 meters below. They were in a panic at this point, struggling to communicate with one another and working themselves to exhaustion just attempting to swim back to the wall. The more experienced diver was able to make it back to the wall and then assisted her colleague in getting to safety.


  • Take the right gear for the type of dive you are going on, such as a reef hook for drift dives on a reef. Having the equipment and not using it is preferable to not having it and then needing it.
  • It's crucial to review what you already know about identifying and navigating various currents. Using the down stream as an example, swim horizontally away from the wall without attempting to oppose it.
  • As they say on airplanes, if you and your friend are in difficulties, remember to make sure you are safe and take care of yourself before helping your friend.
  • As they say on airplanes, if you and your friend are in difficulties, remember to make sure you are safe and take care of yourself before helping your friend.
  • Review your safety training and diving fundamentals, including when to inflate your BCD and drop your weights. Make sure you and your partner can communicate effectively and understand what your hand signals, such as breathing problems or things not being right, signify.
  • Additionally, even though it may be challenging in a hazardous scenario like this, try to remain composed and breathe properly. Your rapid breathing and panicky breathing will cause you to gasp for air.

Out of Air

I was in Tobago diving with my husband. We had been out for around 50 minutes and were performing our safety stop when the dive became very shallow. At this point, my husband checked his air, and it was low (well below the recommended 50 bar to end the dive on). He drew his final breath from the tank as we ascended and realized he was entirely depleted. He manually inflated his BCD because we were near the surface, which was fortunate for him.


  • Keep an eye on your air supply and tell your dive companion or dive leader when it becomes low, regardless of how many dives you have completed or how shallow the dive is. Because your friend might get into danger and need to share your air, it's also for their safety as well as your own.
  • Additionally, you need oxygen at the surface to do things like inflate your BCD or, if the water is especially turbulent, to drop your head back under to swim to the boat.

We advise that you do a refresher and/or extra dive courses to increase your scuba diving knowledge and better prepare you for any unforeseen circumstances underwater. Check out our page on the dive certifications you must complete for suggestions on what to take!



About the Author

Amanda and her husband Dean have been certified divers since 2009. Amanda has her advanced open water and Dean is a dive master. They have travelled the world and dived many sites in Australia, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.

Amanda and Dean have a travel blog called Scatabout which details the fun and unique experiences they have had on their world travels. You can find them doing something adventurous like scuba diving, hiking or something strange like running down the side of a building.

You can follow Scatabout:

YouTube: https://youtube.com/scatabout 

Website: https://scatabout.com 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/scatabout/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scatabout/

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