The Bambi Letter

by

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. 

This is an electronic reprint of a letter to the editor that appeared in Discover Diving (Feb. 1993, p. 6: SCUBA TIMES, Mar/Apr.1993, p. 13 & SOURCES, Mar/Apr. 1993,  p. 5). It has also appeared on numerous web sites and computer bulletin boards. This material is copyrighted and all rights retained by the author. This article is made available as a service to the diving community by the author. This article may be distributed for any non-commercial or Not-For-Profit application.

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It appears that once again our scuba industry is facing a serious polarization over the deep/technical diving issue. A series of editorials in one major diving magazine has called for rigorous enforcement of the 130 fsw limit with implications of banning so-called "technical diving" (I am convinced that some people consider anything NOT in warm tropical water with unlimited visibility under the supervision of a divemaster of somewhat dubious credentials to be "technical diving.") 

The lesson of history is that prohibitions and restriction NEVER work. I personally believe the way to prevent stupid diving death (and ANY diving death is one too many) is to properly apprise the diving community of reality so that proper, informed risk/benefit decisions can be made. Regardless of personal diving practices, we in the diving educational community have a moral obligation to provide reliable information on all aspects of scuba diving to every member of the recreational diving community. Restriction of information or condemnation of those providing information is generally associated with fascist states, not with any form of democratic society. Contrary to some MODERN (read superficial) dive training classes, there are elements of diving more important that being color coordinated! 

From personal experience, many novice divers, when informed of the actual risks involved, will curtail their desire to "dive beyond the limits" while they gain more knowledge, gather appropriate experience, and acquire better equipment. Surveys indicate that a substantial portion of the diving community has already been "below the limits." (Unfortunately, this being "below the limit" has become to many novices a "badge of courage" or "marker of manhood."  It is sad that the 130 fsw limit has become, for some not fully prepared for this type of diving,  a "rite of passage.".) However, telling any diver to stop diving at some arbitrary depth limit will most likely be as successful as the U.S. ban on alcohol during the "Roaring 20's."   

Historically, there have been between 80 and 160 deaths each year in the U.S. while practicing recreational scuba diving. Only a small portion of these was at extreme depths. It has also been shown that deer, each year, cause, on average, about 130 fatalities in the U.S. (They constitute the single greatest statistical life threat of any animal in North America,) So, why don't we aim some of these deep/technical-diving-will-kill-you-hysteria at Bambi? Then we can direct our fruitful energy towards increasing the knowledge/skill level of the entire diving community! 

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 About The Author:  

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and Diving Safety Coordinator at the University of Michigan. He has authored more than 100 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered one of the best recreational sources of information In North America.

  Copyright 2001-2022 by Larry "Harris" Taylor

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