Weekend Wanderer: Don’t Make Me Scuba Dive, Part Two

weekend wanderer

You may remember I’m certifying in open-water scuba diving.  

You may also remember I’m afraid of swimming over large objects, like whales or a shipwreck. 

I’m afraid of a lot of things. But this is my most absurd fear.  

Good news on that front, though. It turns out wreck diving is an entirely different scuba certification from open water diving. 

Oh — and my oldest child, the one I’m getting scuba certified for and with, wants to get certified in wreck diving next. 

But I have more immediate concerns than wreck diving. 

The first issue arose with the online portion of my scuba certification class. The risks of scuba diving are thoroughly explained throughout that tutorial. 

Nitrogen bubbles in my blood? That’s fine. Exploding lungs? I can deal with that. Hypothermia? No sweat. 

I mean, literally, right? You’re not sweating when you’re hypothermic.  


Sorry. I’m nervous. I tend to get a bit acerbic when I’m nervous. 

I just can’t reconcile one of the other dangers listed in the online course. It plagues my sleep. 

Several animals can be harmful to divers. The importance of staying current on dangerous aquatic life can’t be overstated. 

Current — get it? Because you’re in the water. Current. That’s a good one. 

Sorry. I also, when I’m nervous, think my jokes are extremely funny. 

I scrolled through the list of animals. Sea urchins, for example. Which, I mean, I got it. Don’t touch the thing full of prickly needles. 

Stingrays are another animal for which caution is advised.  

Listen. if you’re futzing around with the thing that killed Steve Irwin, you deserve whatever comes your way. 

Jellyfish, fire coral, blah, blah, blah. I’ve got it. I’ll steer clear. 

That was when my scrolling came to a stop. A ghastly, dreadful stop. 

Moray eels. Moray eels are on the list. Do you know what moray eels are? They’re horribly serpentine and you’re basically trapped underwater. Tell me what could make that situation worse. 

Oh — I’ve got it. Moray eels in a shipwreck.  

The next horror is simply listed as “crocodilians.” 

As in crocodiles. As in alligators. 

Yes, of course, I have a fear of crocodilians! I’m a rational human being! 

And it’s not like you can simply avoid crocodilian habitat. Just ask the caiman found here, in Philadelphia, last weekend. 

Or ask my brother’s friend, who works for an aquarium in North Carolina. She told me North Carolinians often see alligators abandon their freshwater habitat for the ocean. 

Do you know where I’ll do the bulk of my scuba diving? 

Yeah. North Carolina. 

You’re supposed to regulate your breathing when you dive. Refrain from panicking.  

Sure. Yeah. We could all get killed by eels and rogue alligators but let’s just breathe like everything is right with the world. 

And we haven’t even arrived at the most distressing part of scuba diving.  

I stumbled across an article I emailed myself before I committed to scuba certification.  

It’s about scuba divers. Like Liam Neeson in Taken, these divers have a particular set of skills.  

They dive to over 900 feet. 

I’m only diving to 60 feet. 

Nine hundred feet. Do you know how deep that is? It’s 400 feet longer than Billy Penn’s hat. Another 300 feet and you’ve dived the length of the Empire State Building. It’s 22 school buses. It’s over 150 Liam Neesons. 

The lake profiled in this article has a narrow shaft the divers pass through to reach that ridiculous depth. 

It gets worse. 

The lake is in Africa.  

Hi. Africa. Home of crocodiles.  

What if — what if you got stuck in the underwater shaft?  



And what if, while you were trapped in that shaft, a crocodile showed up? What if two crocodiles showed up? Are there eels in African freshwater pools? Do you really want to find out? 


Did these divers listen to me? No. One went through the underwater shaft, nine hundred feet down in the lake. 

Do you know how long it takes to dive to nine hundred feet? And how long it takes to come back up? I’ll put it this way: In the time it takes to dive to and surface from nine hundred feet, I could watch an entire season of The Handmaid’s Tale

When this diver made it to 900 feet, do you know what he found? 

A body. 

A body

So now you’re all by yourself with a dead body and your only way out is through a chimney-sized shaft after which you have hours of swimming before reaching the surface. 

With a body beneath you.  

I mean, it’s probably still in the pool beyond the shaft. But are you sure?  

Then that diver went back into the pool to retrieve the body.  

And died.  

He died.  

His dive buddy, hovering above him in the pool, saw him stop moving, realized he was dead, and was forced to ascend.  

That guy had an hours-long swim with two dead bodies beneath him. 

I told you it was distressing. 

The final leg of my scuba certification is a dive in a body of water. 

Body of water. Bodies. That’s funny too. 

Because, you know, bodies

Which is all I’ll think about during my dive. 

Guess you guys have more jokes coming. 

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