Norfolk Island – Part 2


Flash back to August 2016, the schools of Wahoo arrive in numbers and the game of appearing interesting and non-threatening had begun.

After spending the best part of the month targeting these delicious shiny torpedoes with great success we started moving around the Islands in a circuit of the reefs targeting a mixed bag of reef species before timing the low tide change at “South Rock” at the back of Philip Island as this is a hot spot/tide for schools of “Hoo’s” moving through for a feed.

One particular day’s diving stands out in my memories during this lead up to summer, though not because of the good vibes that usually create lasting memories.

I am sharing this particular story because I feel that it is an important reminder for everyone, no matter their level of experience, because none of us are immune, though we all can be mindful in our decision making and our awareness of the changing nature of our physiology and mental state whilst we are diving.

It was an afternoon dive mission, we went out on the boat, the conditions were almost perfect although the tide was strong… a couple of hours into our diving after moving around a few spots we started some blue water drifts looking for a Wahoo.

My buddy Ben, earlier in the afternoon had a large white pointer swim at him head on for a look, making several passes at him.

Ben was mentally rattled some what by the experience although he assured me that he was happy to keep diving… so we found ourselves doing drifts looking for that Wahoo…

Ben dropped under the flasher to about 12-14 meters and was stationary for some time before spotting a group of wahoo near the surface some distance away, he swum on an angle trying to get under the fish for a shot.

I was watching his dive and his angled assent when I noticed that he was stretching out for a shot, then he dropped his arm as if the distance was to far before pulling the trigger and relasing his shaft, this was puzzling to me and I was at this point swiming toward him, before noticing his movements toward the surface were somewhat erratic.

It was at this point that I knew he was in trouble and I swum as fast as I could at him before seeing him beginning to sink. I reached him as he had sunk only a few feet beneath the surface, unconscious… Ben had blacked out, rattled mentally… Most likely stressing his breathe up’s on the surface and a push toward a fish that was out of the normal for Ben.

Usually he would surface calmly knowing his limits… there are many small variables that contributed to this chain of events… as there are every time you go diving…

 We all here it everywhere, “dive with a buddy”, “one up one down”, we all know the risks and we work within our own space believing that we are diving safe and within our limit…

It isn’t until the reality of an incident sets in that we truly grasp the gravity of what can happen in the blink of an eye!

please dive safe, and watch your buddy! make sure your buddy watches you! we LOVE the ocean and all the experiences we have in Her whilst gaining a deeper understanding within ourselves… though nothing is worth the loss of a life!

Luckily Ben is fine… His dive reflex prevented any water entering his lungs and I had him up, head out of the water, mask off and breathing within a matter of seconds… We are very lucky! and we are so thankful that we can dive together again and be with our LOVED one’s! 

I hope that this story touches you and serves to remind you of the fragility of life and the need to be vigilant within yourself and for you buddy.

Happy and safe diving for many dives to come!

Frame grabs by,

Jamie Ryves

underwater photos by,

Zach Sanders

(StuckOnARock photography)