All divers are aware that the recreational sport of scuba diving has inherent risks. Divers also understand that the risks can be easily minimised.

Most certified divers have no trouble diving in conditions when the ocean is calm, the underwater visibility is excellent (in excess of 20 metres) and the water is shallow (less than 18 metres).

Divers can experience difficulty when the ocean is either rough, or a current is present, or the underwater visibility is poor, (less than 5 metres) or the water is deep (30 metres or more)

Unless divers are used to these conditions then they should consider either aborting the dive or dive with a more experienced dive buddy.

As strange as it may sound some of the best diving occurs when the conditions are adverse. Diving offshore in rough seas can produce great underwater visibility (in excess of 20 metres). Diving in poor underwater visibility can produce a spectacular variety of marine animals. Deep sea diving (in excess of 30 metres) can produce sightings of large pelagic fish such as sharks, barracuda and tuna.

As a general rule diving along the entire Great Barrier Reef and around the Whitsunday Islands can produce relatively easy diving conditions because the dive sites are protected from ocean swells and surface waves.

A few popular Queensland dive sites (e.g. the wreck of the S.S. Yongala off Townsville as well as the ex-HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park off the Sunshine Coast are located in the open ocean and are not protected by ocean swells and waves. When there is a current present, or there is a swell or white-capping waves, (or a combination of all three) then diving at these sites can be an extreme diving adventure. Experienced divers can handle these conditions easily but for a novice diver these conditions can be challenging.

It has always been my personal view that if a diver learns to dive off the Sunshine Coast in varying conditions then I would back that diver to be able to dive safely just about anywhere in the world.


Ian McKinnon

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