Peer Pressure - an article for the novice diver

We had recently completed our Open Water Dive Course. My partner and I couldn't wait for our planned 6 day dive-holiday, on the beautiful Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Fully equipped with our brand new dive gear, with the exception of tanks, we joined 14 other divers for the first of our dives planned for the holiday. Surrounded by international divers boasting 10 years experience with 95 dives under their belts, our nerves were making themselves known. However, we had great training and were quickly geared up and first to enter the water.

That's when the fun started. Having only used steel tanks, I suddenly found myself bobbing around like a cork, unable to descend. That tank of aluminium on my back was making a major difference to my buoyancy. After a few minutes the dive leader appeared on the surface, told me to haul myself down the anchor rope and he'd throw some more weight on me at the bottom! The sight of 16 divers sitting on the bottom, all looking upward, didn't exactly have a soothing, calming effect. Feeling pressured to get down and stop wasting everyone's precious air supplies, I committed the ultimate sin: BAROTRAUMA !!!

I wasn't fully aware at the time. I was having some trouble equalising, and instead of taking my time and going slow, I pushed the barriers. To make matters worse, I contracted a severe ear infection - apparently synonymous with diving and swimming in tropical waters swarming with micro-organisms. After two days and visits to the local nurse and Exmouth hospital..I was feeling pretty ordinary, pain, dizziness, nausea and just plain rotten. A week later, once the infection had cleared, the doctor was finally able to see my ear-drum. Although not perforated (thank goodness), there was clear evidence of a barotrauma. Now, after further visits to ear specialists, and an audio-test, I'm out of the water for several months. Whilst recovering I've missed out on diving the Navy Pier in Exmouth, rated as one of the 10 best dives in Australia and some great night diving opportunities in Geraldton. Great!.

The purpose of this article is to remind all you novice divers to take care, exercise caution, and don't succumb to the pressure. Take your time and feel good about it !!!

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