Deep Sea Divers Share Their Horror Stories

Deep underwater lies the most mysterious and dangerous creatures in the world, but that’s not all that you need to watch out for when you dive. A lot of unexpected things await you that’s why being alert is one of the things you need to possess when you dive under the depths of the blue waters.

These stories shared by our Redditors will give you all kinds of fright that you have never experienced before. But you don’t have to worry, because by checking these out, you will learn how to handle these situations. Let’s dive into these!

1. Miscounting Troubles

I had free dove to about 160 ft in Dean Blue Hole in the Bahamas. It’s where a lot of the freediving world records are set. A super neat place.

Anyway, I’d never really been past 100ft freediving, but this was the perfect place to do it. No current, there are ropes to keep you straight and allow a slight pull back up. The scary part is that you become pretty strongly negatively buoyant after like 60 feet, so you’re hauling down while doing nothing and using very little air.

So I’m dazed out a bit feeling good and counting the lines that mark depth. All of a sudden, I feel pressure like my trachea is going to collapse. I wake up and realize I’ve counted to the line that’s around 160 feet or so.

That was a very scary moment because I wasn’t sure if my body could take the depth or if I had gone too far and wouldn’t have enough air to get back up, which is a much slower and more air-intensive process.


2. Battling The Bends

I got the bends once. I was careful. I followed my charts and my computer. Had appropriate depths and surface time, but I didn’t drink enough water so I was all out of wack.

I felt fine until I got home, mild headache. Then I woke up and it was just pain in my left arm, elbows, and fingers. I couldn’t even bend them without bad pain. My headache was intense and I was so dizzy. I called my older more experienced dive buddy and I got rushed to the hospital.

Doctors got me hooked up and fluids, and checked my dive logs while the decompression chamber was set up. And then got me in there with a nurse. 8 hours in a tube about the length of a car but as wide as a double bed. I was on oxygen and hooked up to an IV and it was so loud, with all the air rushing in. As soon as I got to “depth” the pain vanished. It was crazy.

I’m fine now obviously. But I wasn’t allowed to dive for a month which sucked but the dives were pretty great


3. Close Dangerous Encounter

  I was diving the day before a hurricane on a small South Pacific island. Out of nowhere a black and white sea snake, which is venomous, wrapped itself around my arm. This happens from time to time before major storms, they can sense it and look for things that are heading towards the shore so that they don't have to put in so much effort to get out of the sea.  

As soon as I was in the shallows it uncurled and headed up the beach where it hid under a breadfruit tree. I thought I was going to get bitten by a venomous snake at sea. Turns out I was just a taxi for a very calm but rather rushed reptile.


4. Mistaking A Dummy Cadaver

I am diving in a local pond with a group of much more advanced cave divers. I am leading the dive, and to get used to the pressures and responsibilities of heading the procession, they are mentoring me. It is a Texas puddle with a visibility of 10 feet max, not too deep. 

The known horrible visibility makes it impossible to navigate by compass, we follow a line made of string put by other divers. These lines go from one sunken item to another. So, I know I am about to hit a small sunken boat, don't remember which one, but there are a few similar in a row in the same state of decay. 

So, I am first in the group, I get to the boat and see someone's black army boot sticking out from the inner quarters. The curious thing is, it looks somewhat new, not like items you find on the bottom. It was hard to see because of too much muck in the water. 

So, I touch the boot, thinking it is by itself but it won't lift, like it is attached to something heavy. I put my hand further in and feel the leg continuing out, pants, the calf, and I see the second leg now. I was terrified.

I turn around and show a sign of emergency assent to the group behind me. Everyone has a sour face, no one wants to surface but it is a rule that if one says "up", others in a group must abort, no questions. They wanted me to explain with signs why, but I have no idea what is a diver's sign for a cadaver.

I feel like I am rushing toward the surface, even though trying to stay calm and take time. So, we are on the lake's surface. I have this adrenaline rush that I can't breathe enough. So, I tell them there is a body down there. I see rolling eyes from everyone, once they see I am serious. A fun bunch, right? 

So, I describe in detail what I saw. We go down, I don't lead anymore, we make a group search pattern for the line. But once we locate it, we don't know if we should go forward or backward, as there are several boats on the line, and who knows in which the body is and how far we drifted while talking it out on the surface. 

Well, we find all the boats before finding the original one, of course. So, our customary leader goes into the cabin of the boat and we wait. I'd say he was rather courageous at this point and went right in. Then he emerges from the cloud of muck and tells us all to surface.

So, gluing information together from what we learned later on. Turns out the police or some other agency had a body recovery training in the same lake the same day. When they went for lunch, they stuffed their fully dressed anatomically correct rubber doll in one of the sunken boats for a few hours for safekeeping.

Well, I passed away a little that day.


5. Deep-Sea Rescue

I saved someone from drowning while scuba diving. The person had an epileptic seizure at 85 feet of water in a pitch-black cavern that I was diving in. I was hovering above just watching the flashlights move about when I noticed one flashlight not moving, I swam down and was met with the other diver with no regulator in their mouth, eyes open, and just on their knees. 

The diver's buddy was next to them and in complete shock at what was going on and was not assisting whatsoever. 15 years of diving and instructor training came over me like it was second nature. I thought her regulator just come out so I popped mine out and offered it to her, that was when I noticed she had mentally checked out.

I popped my #2 regulator in my mouth and attempted to put my #1 regulator in her mouth but her teeth were completely clenched. I then pressed the purged button to get air into her mouth and noticed her cheeks moving so I knew air was getting in there. That was good enough for me, I then grabbed her under her arm, got the regulator flowing in her mouth,  swan to the opening of the cavern, and then up over 60 feet to get her to the surface. 

Once on the surface, I did everything I was trained to do, inflate because dump her weights, get her on her back, and start towing to land. As I'm towing her in she is regurgitating all the water she swallowed and inhaled, it seemed like gallons of water. I got her to land where other divers assisted me in getting all her gear off. She was breathing fine and alive but in shock for a while and slowly came around like nothing happened. 

We were very lucky that we were only 10 minutes into the dive or for sure we would have both been bent and spending time in a hyperbaric chamber. The crazy thing is she didn’t tell anyone she had epilepsy and when we later reviewed her consent form she checked off “no” to epilepsy. I put myself at risk shooting up to the surface like that but if I came across that situation again I would not hesitate to save someone’s life.


6. Silly Seal Scare

I was diving under an oil rig between Long Beach and Catalina Island. I was collecting sea scallops at around 60 feet or so and knowing that there were seals all around. I always kept an eye out for sharks, you just can't help but think about them. 

So, I was just about to finish my dive but I was looking for one more scallop for dinner and I saw a blur swoosh right by me just in front of my face. My initial immediate reaction was SHARK, but it was just a seal playing with me. I was screaming underwater for a couple of seconds. 

The funny thing is I have over 25 logged open water dives, some at night, mostly around Catalina, and I never saw a shark.


7. Shark Attack

My biology teacher told us that she once was swimming in the south of the Philippines because she was trying to find an elusive sea horse. She went quite deep at night when they were more active and she got attacked by a shark and her team got out fast.   

The next day they found a turtle that was bitten in half the pretty big shell. It is supposedly the last time she went diving in that area.


8. Decompression Chamber Incident

  This was a famous story. Some divers came up from an extremely deep dive at an oil drilling rig. Someone messed up the decompression procedure and opened the door while the chamber was still pressurized at depth.  

The four divers instantly passed away, and the one nearest the door was shattered, his body was so damaged that it was not whole anymore. So, next time someone tells you that people don't explode in decompression chambers like you see in the movies, tell them they're wrong.


9. Shipwreck Night Dive

  I did a shipwreck night dive on New Year's Eve one year, and it was spooky as hell. 80 ft down, a really small plane. The visibility was not great, I've only done this one-night dive. So, these slow-moving fish would come looming out of the dark.

The scariest part for me was getting back on the boat because it got stormy. You'd be looking up at the ladder, and it'd come crashing down right next to you. The waves were crazy. My brother got hit by the ladder, but not too badly, and we all managed to get back ok


10. Enticing Sparkling Necklace

It was my parent’s story. They like to scuba dive when traveling and have gone several times over the years. Once they visited Mexico and went diving there before I was born.

I'm not sure where they were exactly, but my mom was slightly lower down than my dad and looking at the ocean floor. He was looking up and around. My mom had on a gold necklace that was floating in the water around her, it was a sunny day and a fairly shallow dive so it was sparkling.

From my mom's point of view, she was going along having a grand old time looking at the sea critters below, when suddenly my dad grabbed her and started frantically shaking her arm to get her attention. She looked up and a barracuda was directly in front of her, closer than was comfortable and staring intently, scary teeth on full display. It was focused on the shiny necklace and was just hovering there, transfixed. 

She slowly moved up her hand to cover the necklace and they slowly and calmly moved away from it. It took off without bothering them anymore, but still pretty unsettling and taught my mom to be a little more aware of her surroundings when diving


11. Dive Partner’s Close-Call

When you're diving, you want to ascend to the surface slowly. This is because under pressure your blood and tissues can hold more gasses, in particular, inert nitrogen from your compressed air dissolved in it than when you're at the surface. As you ascend to the surface these dissolved gasses have to return to being gasses.

If you're slow, you just breathe it out as you come up, but if you're too fast they turn into bubbles of gas in your arteries and veins before they can be vented out. This causes embolisms as well as decompression sickness a.k.a. the bends.

I was diving with a friend at about 25 m when her old beat-up BCD (the vest that you can inflate with air to control your buoyancy) started to inflate on its own. This has happened to me before as well, but I just disconnected the air hose from the BC immediately carried on, and went on to do about 10 dives with a busted BC that I only inflated manually. She didn't think to do that or didn't have time to do that because it happened very quickly. 

I saw that she was having buoyancy control issues. She was upside down kicking to try to stay down, but in the few seconds it took for me to realize how bad the problem was, she was already at the surface. I quickly glanced around to see if there was a rock I could use to weigh her down and when I turned back she was gone. 

I followed her up, but not too quickly, and even so my dive computer was beeping warnings at me. When we met up I wondered why she didn't use her dump valve (there is a valve at the bottom of the BC exactly for releasing air when you are feet up) especially since she was experienced and should know how to do that. Then I saw that the string you pulled to open the valve was missing, so it was impossible to dump the air when oriented that way. So check your gear before you use it!

I was pretty worried that she would come down with the bends, but she was fine. People are often worried that I dive alone a lot, but honestly, all of my scariest and most anxious moments were problems occurring with other people.


12. Chain Of Mistakes

I grew up in Oz. When I was 15, I took the family boat out and dove into the reef myself to clear my head, that was my 1st mistake number. I was down at a depth of about 28 meters (90 feet) when I was only rated for 60 feet, my 2nd mistake.

Whilst diving, I spotted a 3.5m Mako shark coming right at me. For those who are unaware, Makos are the cheetahs of the ocean, and they only have 2 speeds: Curious (harmless) and Lunch (very much harmful). This guy was in lunch mode.

So I hovered, as I had been trained to do, as there would be no way for me to outmaneuver it or escape it. Nowadays, we dive with Shark Shields, which emit electronic pulses that freak the sharks out and keep them away, but back then, what we used was essentially a chainmail sleeve. The idea is that sharks hate the taste of metal, so if you give it your arm, it'll bite down, decide you're gross, and move along.

So I wait, and it comes, and I make a perfect move to give the beastie my arm. Just before the crunch, however, it occurred to me that I had left my sleeve on my bed, my 3rd mistake. I had my kelp knife drawn and attacked it with the knife right as it bit me. It swam off, and I was alive, however, now I had a series of problems:

1. I had HUGE open gashing wounds on my arm from the bite in open water and was trailing blood everywhere

2. Once the shock wears off, you realize that you're in SALT water and salt and open wounds.

3. In a panic, I dropped my weight belt and shot up to the surface without any sort of waiting period. Hello bends, my 4th mistake.

4. Because I hadn't been paying attention to the currents, I was approximately a quarter mile downstream of my boat, which meant I had to swim up to it, my mistake.

5. When I got to the boat, I started to wish I had done as my DA had said and had the comms fixed my sixth mistake. or that I had upgraded the first aid kit like I was planning to, my 7th mistake.

So I ended up racing back to shore with nothing more than a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding. Long story short, my series of unfortunate self-inflicted events earned me 172 stitches, and boatloads of physical therapy because the shark had bitten down on my tricep and removed it. I have easily identifiable scars on one of my arms for the rest of my life.

Oh, and I lost my deceased grandfather's favorite kelp knife that he had left me.


13. Rough Seas Up And Down Ladders

I was doing a boat dive and came up to find 20-foot swells. We just had to chill for a while down under until the boat calmed down and we could grab the ladder without getting smashed. I remember seeing the ladder going up and down 6 to 8 feet at a time. 

I finally grabbed the rope and climbed up as fast as I could. I hung on to the ladder and the boat crew grabbed my BCD and hauled me out of the water and onto the swim step. Half the divers puked on the way back into port. That was the roughest conditions that I have ever been diving in.


14. Mom Diving Scare

My family got certified while I was in high school. Our last dive was open water. We decided we would do it on vacation on a wreck dive about 200 yards offshore. All other dives were in the States in a pool.  

I was not sure why but Mom’s tank went empty way faster than everyone else’s while we were out at sea. She didn’t realize it until it was less than 5%. We surfaced and started swimming back,  but she panicked. She was an experienced swimmer and snorkeler but she couldn’t handle it with the other scuba gear.  

We whistled for help and the locals thought we were just being tools. They didn’t realize she was struggling. We kept her up and got her back. Finally, about 50 yards out they realized we were towing in a diver in distress.

Everything turned out okay. I haven’t been scuba diving since. My brother went on to become a dive master.


15. Manatee’s Playful Dive Distraction

I’m hardly a “deep sea diver.” My deepest dive to date is 111’. This incident happened in about 8’ of water. Crystal River, Florida. Known for attracting manatees in the winter, they won’t let you scuba dive there anymore, and the dive master suggested snorkeling this dive because it was shallow and it scared the manatees off. It was my first set of dives out of certification. I was putting my gear on.

So there are two manatees in the immediate area. An older juvenile who was hanging out and loving the attention from the snorkelers, and what we assumed was likely his mother. I had a little disposable underwater camera. As soon as I hit the bottom, the big one approached me.

I moved the camera out of my face and she just got closer and closer until she grabbed the regulator out of my mouth. Luckily my skills were still very fresh in my mind and I calmly grabbed my octo. But I spent the entire dive trying to get far enough away to get pictures of her. She was a nosy pest.


16. Deep Dive Emergency Nap

The weather had been pretty hot and the water temp was also around 26 degrees Celcius. We’d done a dive and a long swim in the morning. We then headed out for our second dive and the boat dropped us in the wrong spot. 

We had to swim against a massive current to get to our intended site. Halfway into the swim, I just felt like I needed a nap. And so, I closed my eyes and did exactly that. It felt so peaceful.

I immediately dropped down to an even deeper depth and was lucky that one of the guys on the dive turned around at that moment and saw what was happening. He swam as fast as he could towards me and caught me. He asked if I was okay, I said I was and passed out again, this time spitting my regulator out and blowing bubbles. He then went behind me, shoved my regulator back in, wrapped his arms around me, and took me straight to the surface. He saved my life.


17. A Mother’s Scare

It wasn't exactly a deep dive, but it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I was on a beach dive with my parents, having swum from the beach out to a small reef and then descending. It was only a few minutes after getting down to the reef that something started going on with my parents. 

My mother was agitated and clutching her chest. We surfaced and she started spitting up dark liquid and struggling to breathe. 

Fortunately, it was a busy beach, and we inflated an emergency buoy. Lifeguards rushed out and carried her back to the shore where an ambulance waited. 

It turned out she'd had swimmer edema induced by the greater pressure. Things turned out fine, but having a medical emergency underwater in the ocean is a special level of scary.


18. Buoyancy Panic

  The only thing that scares me is lung expansion injuries. So the one time I was freaked out was swimming near a wreck at about 100 feet. I lost perspective and buoyancy control. Then I suddenly realized I had surfaced about 40 feet in 30 seconds or less.   

Visions of the bends and a popped lung instantly came to mind and dropped a ton of air from my BCD to get back to depth in a hurry. I got a massive squeeze from it in my ears, but it gave me a chance to calm the heck down, get a better sense of where I was, and reestablish buoyancy control.


19. Diving With The Abyss

We were diving at a restaurant in the Galapagos. We had hoped to see hammerhead sharks that frequent the area. This is a pinnacle surrounded by deep water and strong currents. Our guide had us hold onto the rocks and wait to see who came by. 

While we were waiting a group of 10 reef sharks were circling above us, while two larger Morey eels were popping their heads out a few feet away, opening their mouths and letting us know they meant business. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous and burning through my air at a rapid rate. 

Suddenly, a group of dozen hammerhead sharks came into view. We had not discussed what we would do. The guide motioned for us to follow and the next thing I know we are swimming with the school of sharks. This only lasted a few minutes before they broke away from the group. 

We began to move into our safety stop zone where currents were pushing us in different directions when I suddenly ran out of air. You don't get much warning when suddenly there is nothing left. So here I am 15 feet or so underwater unable to reach my partner's secondary air being forced to surface when I should still be chilling. 

At least the second time I ran out of air was a user error on my wife's part (anniversary dive) and I was able to get to the secondary air and get back to the surface safely. Oh and then there was the time diving bloody bay wall in the Caymans where there is a 5000 foot drop and my partner was narced out and kept going deeper nearly exceeding the recreational limit of 120 feet or so. If I had not grabbed her she might still slowly be falling into the abyss. Diving is super fun.


20. Staring Into Barracudas Jaws

I was diving in the early 90s off the coast of Florida. I had been using a spearfish ineffectually for a few minutes when I heard a strange grinding noise to my right. I turned my head to see an enormous set of barracuda jaws grinding just inches from my face. 

I still recall the fish's eye rotating around to check me out as if considering whether it should take a bite or not.


21. Real-Life Jaws

I was having a night dive on the Great Barrier Reef with my partner who was learning to dive, myself, and a divemaster. First-night dive for my partner, who had been hearing from the 2 of us about how incredible it was. Night diving is one of those amazing, life-changing experiences- completely different from daytime diving as the sights and sounds of the reef are radically different, plus viewing the reef through just the small areas of light from your torches changes how you process the experience. It's exhilarating and incredibly zen at the same time.

As we're circling back to the boat, the sharks who have been standoffish but curious come in and one has an inquisitive bite of the divemaster's fins. Never seen or heard of sharks getting this aggressive with divers, so the 3 of us nearly catapulted ourselves out of the water and cut the dive short.

Have never been worried about sharks while diving until that moment. Normally, they're more afraid of you than you are of them. But not this time!


22. Accidental Military Intrusion

  It was my uncle’s story. He got lost in a group and was beginning to start surfacing when 5 or 6 guys grabbed him and dragged him to a small boat. 

Turns out he strayed into a very small military installation nearby and didn’t realize it. He got grabbed up by some navy divers.

It was kinda crazy.


23. Hunting In The Dark

  I was on a night dive looking for a resident sixgill shark when a large gray animal darted past me, just barely illuminated by my light. It was way faster than I was told this shark would be and I couldn’t quite make out the size. Then it happened again on the other side.   

Both times it was in my peripheral vision, barely illuminated by my forward-aimed spotlight, and very fast. For some reason when I got to the bottom, I decided just to sit on my knees and aim the light in one direction until something happened. As it turned out, the beast was a harbor seal using the light to find fish to eat. It hung out with us for a while which was a pretty cool experience.

We never found the shark but I did think I was being hunted for a bit.


24. Reef Rollercoaster

I wasn’t deep sea and I wasn’t diving. I was in the reef off the coast of Belize. Super calm area, known for its shallow, impossibly clear, bathtub-temperature waters. Like the Finding Nemo drop-off.

It’s real. It's hard to see until you’re right at it, but the current changes, and suddenly you’re getting thrown around by currents and waves. I get body slammed into a coral, they’re very sharp! I had a spear with me cause it was lobster season and I stuck it in the sand and climbed up it like a flagpole just to get a couple of feet above the coral so I could kick like hell and get back to the calm part so I can surface without getting sucked out. 

The scariest part is realizing the kayak tied to the marker buoy is suddenly a good hundred yards away and you don’t even realize you’ve drifted that far in only a couple minutes. Anyway, I have a neat scar from the coral all over my hip and thigh that I always have to tell people is not road rash, a living undersea rock shivved me when I was too stupid to wear a wetsuit (it seemed silly! The water is 25 degrees!)


25. Dive Of The Ticklish Tentacle

A buddy of mine is a very experienced diving instructor and avid traveler. He's taught several friends to dive and then went on extended diving vacations together, this time it was my turn. During our training, he's emphasized battle-tested skills, and a lot of practice because diving can be dangerous. 

He's seen all kinds of things. He wants his friends to be safe divers. Takes all precautions and often makes training harder than it needs to be just so you get used to diving under stress.

During the lessons, he's told us many a crazy story to scare us straight. One of them was a situation 80 feet down on a night dive in Asia somewhere where a box jellyfish that was 10 feet tall was inches away from grabbing one of their group. The risk here is they can sting you badly, and get tangled up. The sting shock usually causes you to clench your jaw, scream, and spit out your regulator, and in bad cases, it can paralyze muscles for a period. Any of those things can cause you to drown. 

He very carefully did a "come hither" motion to the diver to get him to swim forward without looking behind him. It worked and they got the heck outta there. He didn't tell the diver what happened until they got back on the boat. Panic is the enemy under water.

Fast forward to my trip with him. I'm recently certified, and feeling pretty confident, we're doing a bunch more dives and training to up my experience. We work up to a deep dive, night dive, wreck dive, all in one. You need additional training to do all three specialties, I completed each, and this was my first dive combining them all. I'm super excited, we're diving a sunken oil freighter from WW2 at night that's at 100 feet depth close to Hawaii. 

Also, I'm a little nervous as usually you only introduce one or two new variables each new dive, but this night dive charter only went once a month and the weather was perfect so we booked it. So I'm going to have to apply several tactics all at once that will take away from being able to fully enjoy the fun of the dive. I'm excited just to get to go.

We dive down and the ship is badass. The experience at night only amplifies how cool and kinda creepy it all is. Heck, the ocean is DARK at night. You use flashlights and glow sticks zip-tied to your gear to see. 

Visibility is challenging but it's like a rave down there with about 20 of us divers. Your air goes quickly at that depth, maybe 20 to 30 minutes tops for a newer diver like myself but I'm soaking it all in. My buddy and I are swimming by the ship's mast when I feel a tickle on the back of my neck.

Instantly I think back to that jellyfish story he told me and I react with the reptilian brain. I pull out my dive knife and I start attacking the thing that's tickling my neck. I'm not dying for a spineless jellyfish. Forget to point my flashlight at what it is so I can see it, I just start stabbing the darkness. 

I was not thinking straight or calmly. I'm breathing a little harder, tossing around a bit, and causing a commotion of bubbles. My buddy is just staring right at me. After what feels like forever but probably was only 20 seconds, I finally get the sense to kick a circle and shine my light on what's touching me. 

I'm getting prepared to have to go knife to tentacle with this jellyfish and I see a massive American flag hanging off the ship's mast. It's been there for a while, it looks weathered, but it's got 7 or 8 fresh new holes in the bottom corner. I'm an idiot.

I turn to my buddy, shine my light on him and he's killing himself laughing. He saw the whole thing, he let me sort out my panic because he knew it would be a good lesson for me. I'm an idiot. We finish up the dive, get back on the boat, and have a good laugh on land. 

The next day, I tell the dive shop I've been diving with the story over a few beers and offer to buy them a new flag. They're killing themselves laughing at my expense and told me not to worry about the flag, the story was worth it. I bought a few rounds for us all to make up for it. I still feel mortified to this day but it is funny to laugh at now.


26. Barracuda’s Hidden Lair

I was diving into a rather shallow wreck in Cancun. It was under a ripping current. Part of the dive plan was to use a buoy line at the dive site to pull ourselves to a depth below the current.

Just hand under hand on the line while the current was dragging my body in the direction the current was going. We felt the current completely dissipate at about 40 feet (I'm guessing 13 meters). Slowly descending to the wreck which was visible at this point.

Not much to speak of, open sides and hallways. Bulkheads were wide and easy to navigate and we finished by exiting below the main deck on the starboard side of the bow. I could see above the deck from within through the old support beams. Several schools of fish and several lionfish. It was neat.

Until I began to ascend and explore from above and look down at the wreck. A 7-8 foot barracuda had called the open bow of the ship home. I swam within feet and did not see it.

I just remembered that while taking a picture of a flamingo tongue (nudibranch) I had a 7-foot green moray eel swim by my left arm. My dive buddy was watching me and thought I would be bitten. The photo came out ok, but the field of green background was a funny surprise.


27. Creepy Encounters In The Dark

I'm a divemaster and have been diving for 23 years now. Pretty much nothing freaks me out at this point, but I've had a few creepy experiences.

The worst was actually while freediving near the local harbor. I was just chilling on the surface in fairly low-visibility water when I felt something bump into my arm. I look to my side and it's a clear bag bulging with offal (animal guts). Of all the things you'd want bumping into you, this is pretty low on the list. I assume it was thrown off a ship. If that bag had popped it would probably have caused an actual sharknado.

We also regularly night dive here. This is South Africa so it's not sissy tropical diving. Usually, low visibility, strong currents, and most of our dives are fairly deep, about 100 feet. You see some incredibly rare stuff here at night. I was actually on the Discovery Shark Week that just aired with footage of two new species that I filmed here at night.

To get to the creepy story, another divemaster and I ended up being the only divers one night after several cancellations. So we dropped down to the reef and we were immediately "attacked" by a shoal of amberjacks. Now amberjacks are a large, strong, fast fish. 

They were attracted and confused by our lights and proceeded to crash into us like fishy cruise missiles from the darkness. My buddy got hit in the head, I got hit in the chest. I had one wiggle under my armpit at one point. As if that wasn't weird enough, on our decompression stop we had humpback whales extremely close to us. 

Not in the limited range of our lights, but they were singing so loudly that I could feel my entire chest vibrating. You could just feel they were right there looking at us. Just a creepy dive, especially with only two people out in the inky blackness, 3 miles from shore.


28. Horror Of Solo Diving

A family friend is a coral diver and a few years ago he went missing at sea. He was diving solo (a big mistake) and failed to surface. The other crew dived down to see his equipment just sitting on the ocean floor with no sign of him, thinking he'd been taken by a shark. 

They then returned to the surface and tried looking for him at the surface in case he was floating. The crew couldn't see him because of the late afternoon sun reflecting on the water and they left without him. He had to drift and swim for about 12 hours to get to an island, getting all blistered and sunburnt to a crisp. 

When he washed up on the island in the middle of the night, the villagers thought he was a 'white ghost' so they were really scared of him. When they finally helped him it turned out that no one on the island had phone credit so it was a mission to even try and contact the mainland. He ended up home safe and sound so there was a happy ending eventually.

We found out that the reason he abandoned his equipment was because he found a rare clown fish and was trying to catch it (the equipment was quite heavy and would have restricted movement). He did catch it and he held onto it for his whole ordeal. When he got back it lived in a fish tank in his office for a while.

The moral of the story: never dive alone, no matter how experienced you are.


29. Recollection Of Unfortunate Diver Days

My dad was a Navy diver for a while. He was on the team that searched the Challenger wreckage. I've heard crazy stories about getting nitrogen narcosis (effectively drunk underwater) and he offered his regulator to a fish. 

The scariest story he told me about though was he was working underneath a huge aircraft carrier and someone screwed up and didn't take tide times into effect. So he and his dive partner started seeing that the bottom of the carrier and the bottom of the bay were getting closer and they had to GTFO pronto. Surprisingly, they made it, but they were severely puckered for a while after that one.


30. Lobster Dive Horror

  This will probably get buried but I once had a mask squeeze whole lobster diving at night where I burst a blood vessel in my eye and my mask filled up with blood. It was pitch black and all I could see was red in my eyes through the glow of my light.   

Eventually, I was able to flush my mask enough to clear the blood and get back to bagging lobster. I hit the bag limit too!


31. Great White Panic to Mink Whale Elation

I live in Australia, and 3 to 4-meter great whites and tiger sharks are not uncommon where we dive A group of us did a deep dive into 45 meters at a site, and the visibility wasn't great, maybe at 5 meters. The site is sort of a cave, a large underwater cavern with lots of light and multiple large entrances. It can be a hard site to find, so my buddy and I laid down a line from the anchor to the entrance.

At the end of the dive, somehow my buddy and I got separated leaving the cavern. The standard procedure is to search the area for 1 minute and then surface. In our case, we couldn't surface immediately; we had about 20 minutes of decompression to do. We sit at 6 meters and let our body release built-up nitrogen.

The line is nowhere to be found, and I'm a bit disoriented from searching, but it's time to surface. My decompression time is racking up. I use my compass to get roughly in the direction of the boat, but because the vis is crap, I have to be pretty dang accurate if I hope to find the boat or anchor line. I'm worried if I don't find the boat I'm going to have to float in the current for 20 minutes. This means I have to send up a surface buoy and hope the boat sees it and can send the tender boat to follow me.

As I'm coming up, I see the line and my buddy is coming up too! We both check we're okay and start our decompression. I'm a bit on edge at this point, but I was feeling better. Then, I see a shape off in the distance. It's sort of white, sort of grey, and moving against the current. My first thought is that it's changing light or shadows from the dive boat. I see it again and realize it's not a shadow, and it's big.

I've had sharks circle me before on dives, mostly they're just curious. This one felt different though. All I could think was, "That's a big white.” These were also perfect conditions for them to hunt in cold water, snapper was running that time of year, and low visibility.

We move up the line a bit for our next decompression stop, and the visibility gets a little better. Then I see it again. It's an 8-meter Minke whale!

Their pectoral fins have this splash of white, and that's what I kept seeing go by. Spent the next 15 minutes just watching this beautiful animal do hot laps around our boat. He got close enough that you could almost touch him.


32. Harrowing Tale of Blackout Dive

About 9 months ago, I was swimming through a little coral canyon off of Okinawa with my brother-in-law about 65 feet underwater. The next thing I knew we were on the surface with him dragging me towards the shore. 

We’re still not sure what triggered it. Probably a panic attack but I had honestly felt fine the whole dive up to this point and have done it 20 times with no other incidents. But I had blacked out and overinflated my BCD and rocketed to the surface in about 6 seconds.

I had a reverse sinus squeeze, popped eardrums, and type 2 DCS. Spent 5 hours in the deco chamber. Thank god I have a US Marine rescue diver for a brother-in-law.


33. Umbilical Messed Up

  I had a 7-hour dive cleaning a Coast Guard cutter. Tender had thrown a majority of my umbilical in the water because who wants to tend you swimming up and down a hull for that long? I finished my dive I swam over to the ladder and when I was 3 rungs from breaking the surface I felt my umbilical get tight. I couldn't get out of the water.  

I had to pull myself down to where my umbilical had gotten wrapped up in some rigging underneath the pier where the ship was moored. Cutting that free in the dark after a 7-hour dive pretty much ruined all the happy fun time. I had nightmares about that for a while.


34. Deep-Sea Dilemma

I had a panic attack in a strong current while at 100 feet. I was diving the Corsair wreck in Hawaii. All my mind wanted to do was spit out my regulator and swim to the surface. I held my regulator in my hand and kept telling myself,   

"If you go up right now, it will be your end. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, what do we do we swim, swim, swim."


35. Narrow Escape

  I do underwater constitution for a living and my scariest moment was when I was trying to rig up a concrete slab that was a couple thousand pounds to get picked out of the water by a crane. It started to tip over while I was working on it and I had to jump out of the way quickly to avoid it falling on me. When it fell, it landed right on the dive hose that supplied me with air from the surface. 

Luckily the force of it hitting the ground broke the slab and I was able to shimmy my dive hose between the pieces with a lot of effort. This all happened about 70 feet from the surface.


36. Unintended Shark Attraction

I was with a group at a coral reef, some of them were spearing lionfish. I just watched, I don't like hurting things. Since they're invasive and hurt the corals, the dive resort cooks any that are caught and gives them to do. 

As my buddy was cutting the spines off of one I saw a shark's outline in the distance, luckily it swam in the opposite direction. But with half my dive party spearing the fish I was afraid it would attract some unwanted friends.


37. Tropical Storm Diving

  One time I dove with my dad during a tropical storm. Once you get 10 feet down it’s not bad. On one of my last dives, I had an asthma attack 45 feet down. I was with 20 other people including my best friend. So that far down and can’t rapidly ascend.   

They got me to concentrate on my breathing and slow it down the best I could. I just listened to the bubbles and that helped. Finished the dive and then my best friend ran out of air and did an emergency ascent on the same dive


38. Surviving A Down Current

  I got caught in a down current on a wall dive. Went from 12 m to 41 m very quickly. Fully inflated BCDs weren't enough to combat the current. Clinging to a wall, much deeper than the dive was planned for, trying to inch sideways to get out of the current was the scariest moment of my life so far.  

It was a group of instructors diving so the training paid off and a burst eardrum was the worst injury of the day. But, sheer terror. The wall we were diving was over 200 m deep, had we not found a hold on it we would have most likely lost our lives.


39. Haunting Dive Quarry

My dive buddy and I were setting up at this old flooded quarry that’s become a popular dive spot. The company that owns it has set up a bunch of floating platforms, which are suspended underwater by ropes tying them to buoys on the surface. Each of those buoys is rated to hold over 100 lbs. Remember that.

So we’ve geared up, walked into the water, and done our final checks when something a little further out in the distance grabs both of our attention. It’s hard to explain what it was, maybe a slight sound, a ripple in the water, but it felt wrong enough that suddenly we were both looking the same way, at one of the pairs of buoys just offshore. And almost as soon as we set our eyes on them, one of the buoys snapped below the surface.

“What the heck?”

My dive buddy said it, but I was thinking about it too. The buoys were pretty hefty pieces of equipment, and one had just gotten pulled under the water like a bath toy. In a quarry where the biggest fish were a handful of trout, something was off. Of course, the fear factor ratcheted up a couple of notches when the buoy returned. Forcefully. 

The thing shot out of the water, easily six feet in the air, before landing with a hard slap that reverberated out over the otherwise calm water of the quarry. My dive buddy and I made eye contact, and pretty much instantly we knew our dive plan had changed. We were checking that out.

Swimming down into the cold quarry water, I couldn’t help but notice this was exactly the kind of thing that got people to end up in horror movies. Here we were, alone in the murky water, our visibility topping out at maybe 10 feet. As we moved forwards, I couldn’t shake the feeling that anything could be right in front of us, just waiting to break through the gloom. 

Even while my rational brain reminded me that there couldn’t possibly be anything down there. My older reptile brain kept on replaying the sight of the buoy sharply dipping below the surface. Yes, for those of you wondering, you can still nervous sweat underwater.

As soon as we got to the platform, now sticking halfway out of the muddy quarry floor, the non-horror movie truth was pretty quickly evident. One of the two ropes attaching the buoys to the platform had snapped, and the remaining buoy alone wasn’t strong enough to hold the weight. It had been pulled under, but still fighting hard to return to the surface.

At some point during the platform’s decent, buoyancy won a fight against gravity, and the trapped buoy broke free from its tie as well, sending it rocketing back above the surface. At the end of the day, it was logical. I still blame Cthulhu though.


40. Deep Dive Drama

I was doing my qualifying deep dive for advanced diving. We were diving off the southern coast of Mozambique. Choppy launch through waves and we were holding on for dear life through the launch. I nicked my finger during this. I didn't think much of it. 

We started our dive got down to 45 meters and then realized the pressure was making the blood flow heavily from my finger at that depth. I would've stressed more about it but then I narc'd at 45 m. Luckily my dive master noticed and gently led me up about 2 meters so I could not be drunk at 45 m. 

So, I kind of forgot about the blood flowing out of my finger and making clouds around me. We were doing a multi-stage ascent to safely get back up. At about 25 meters a school of 4 hammerhead sharks started circling us, followed us up to 15m then swam away.


41. Darkness and Imagined Creatures

The deepest I've been is about 130 feet and it was like most dives but didn't get to stay down there that long. The creepiest dive has been in a cenote in Mexico. The dive guide put me at the back of the group since I had the most front of me was lit up from the group's flashlights and you could see the clear edge of my lights beam to the black of the cave.

Light in front of me, void of black in my peripheral vision. It was creepy since you could almost feel the darkness and every time I turned the light behind me I was sure there would be some underground creature following me.


42. Shark Territory

I often dive off the NC coast and we have a wreck called the Aeolus. Its main attraction is a section of the wreck which some refer to as the “shark lounge.” Some of the walls of the ship are gone, but there are still some support beams that hold up the ceiling. Sharks can freely swim under this “canopy” and catch some zzz’s. 

So anytime you dive there you’ll pretty much always get to see some sand tigers. The last time I was on the wreck and before entering the “lounge.” I was floating off the side of the wreck taking it all in and waiting for my buddy. When unbeknownst to me a thresher shark was swimming below me. They are quite fascinating sharks they use their long tails to whip schools of fish to injure/stun them. 

Well, this thresher didn’t know I was there either because his dorsal fin and my fin brushed against one another. I don’t know who was more scared me or the shark. But he whipped his tail against the side of the wreck, which made a loud crack sound, and sped off in the other direction. Looking back it’s not so scary to me now, but when it happened my heart stopped.


43. Looming Darkness Of Man-Made Lake

I dove off of a houseboat dock in a manmade lake around June and went looking for a gun in 50 feet of water under the dock. We had dropped an anchor line down where it had been dropped so I pulled myself down on the rope. I was using a snuba and had 60ft of hose.

It was very dark down at the bottom. I’ve been deeper than 50 feet (dove the Vandenberg in the keys) but this was creepy, it was very dark. I had a flashlight from the 80s that didn’t help me at all. There were a ton of fallen trees that had slid down from the shore and their branches were super creepy. Ended up just sticking my hands in the silt randomly and I found the gun! It had fallen in 6 months before. Don’t want to go back down there though.


44. Dummy Scare

I was in Lake George, NY there’s a sunken plane for divers to visit. I swam around it and saw the door on the ground. 

When I looked up to peek inside the plane, there was a dummy in the pilot seat. I was only 40 feet down but it was not what I expected to see, and it scared me so much.  


45. Peek-a-Not

I was diving into a shipwreck surrounded by sharks. They would swim straight at you and turn when they got within a foot of your face because they thought you had food but that wasn’t the scary part. This ship was ripped in two with parts scattered along the sea floor.

There was a section of the boat that was still intact but pitch black inside. I stuck my head in with a flashlight and was surrounded by a lionfish. They are very poisonous and you don’t mess with them so I got out real quick.