Compiled by: Jack Foley
AS OPEN Water is about to hit UK cinema screens, PADI diving
instructor, Mark Blunsten, provides the low-down on all it takes
to be 'sea savvy' - should you find yourself adrift in the ocean!
On any beach, always make sure you know there is a lifeguard
patrolling the area you are in and that he/she is in view.
Wear rubber shoes to protect your feet from coral or sea urchins.
If you find yourself being pulled out to sea by a strong current
(riptide) don’t try and swim directly back to shore against
the current, as it will be too strong for you. Always swim sideways
to get out of the current, and then swim back to shore.
Relax, keep calm and don’t panic. If you panic, you will
not think rationally, you will get out of breath quickly whilst
treading water and you’ll therefore be more likely to wear
yourself out. Don’t try and swim too hard and if you get
tired float on your back to conserve energy.
There are many different species of Jellyfish, which can be found
all over the world. Some can be harmless, some can give you a
nasty sting and some, like the notorious “box” jellyfish
found on the northern coast of Australia, can kill you in a matter
Wherever you are considering swimming, ask locally whether it
is jellyfish season, and if so how dangerous they are before getting
into the water.
If you are swimming in jellyfish season, make sure that you wear
a full-length wetsuit.
If you get do get stung by a jellyfish, always apply vinegar
immediately. If you go to a beach without a lifeguard and you
know there are jellyfish in the area, always have about two litres
of vinegar with you as you will need to keep applying it to the
sting. Seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
If you’ve always had a passion to learn scuba diving, but
are scared of the unknown mysteries that lurk in the ocean, Mark
suggests that the only way to “overcome your fears is to
He recommends the following:
Go scuba diving with a patient instructor used to dealing with
Relax and rationalise your fears, make sure that your instructor
teaches you about the water, learn about the effects of currents
Learn about the fish and other wildlife
in the area you are swimming in so that you know the realities.
Strengthen your swimming in “safe” environments i.e.
Never touch anything in the water, even with gloves. Not only
are you in danger of hurting yourself, for example, the “Stone
fish” has a deadly poison which paralyses you and they look
just like stones so can be camouflaged amongst the rocks.
Also, human bacteria can damage or kill sea life and broken coral
can take up to 20 years to repair itself. Never hold onto the
back of a turtle as they panic and can drown.
As Open Water demonstrates, sharks are probably seen by us to
be the scariest of all marine life.
But, according to Mark, sharks have been given a bad reputation
in the past and we should be aware that there have only been a
few specific species of shark which have been known to attack
humans and that a shark is very unlikely to attack a human without
With this in mind, he also suggests that there are a few things
we can do to lessen the risks of becoming dinner out there in
the deep blue.
There are only a few species of shark that will attack e.g. Great
White, Tiger, Mako, White tip reef and rarely Hammerhead and Bull
sharks. Most sharks are more likely to avoid you than attack,
unless they are cornered, injured or protecting their young.
Avoid wearing shiny or sparkling swimwear as this makes you look
like fish-like and may provoke a shark attack or big fish (e.g.
Learn the “layout” of the water. If you’re
swimming in a shallow that suddenly turns into a drop-off ledge,
this is the point where sharks generally attack. They will swim
up from a depth to attack as they see your shadow above.
Generally sharks only take a bite, they find us too bony and
not meaty enough! Their sensitive parts are their eyes, if you
are able go for the eyes. This is the only way to hurt a shark
without a weapon.
Sharks smell blood from over two miles away. If you are bleeding,
get out of the water ASAP.
Don’t be mislead by the dolphins’ friendly image.
They can be dangerous if they’re not in the mood to play.
Don’t go to them, let them come to you.
Before you think of swimming in an unfamiliar sea, consult a
local lifeguard or scuba diver about the sea bed and the wildlife.
With all this in mind, Mark concluded by reminding both divers
and swimmers alike that shark attacks are extremely rare, pointing
out that the chances of suffering death from a shark attack are
1 in 265 million.