6 months ago

AD 2016 Q2

As we pointed out in the spring 2013 edition of the Alert Diver, even being a dive buddy has potential legal implications. So, to bump this up a notch, what about the diver training organisations themselves? Where do they stand? How do they relate to South African law? Are they all considered the same under our legal system in spite of the differences in organisational structures and training programmes? How does this affect their respective instructors and trainee divers from a legal perspective? These are not exactly simple questions. It is certainly true that the respective training organisations differ in a number of ways. However, this does not imply that there are necessarily differential legal implications for each of them. In fact, under South African law, the legal principles are common in all matters. Therefore, if you suffer a loss and you (or your estate in the case of a fatality) wish to recover damages, the legal principles would be applied commonly; whether you are driving or diving. Although not a frequent occurrence, there have been quite a number of law suits associated with diving injuries and damages in South Africa. This is not surprising, as the occurrence of law suits is really a function of “numbers”. As training increases, so do the chances of injuries and, with it, the chances of legal recourse. So, it remains wise to insure yourself, your equipment or your business in a proper and effective way. But before getting back to the potential differences amongst the training agencies, let’s first explore the foundational legal principles on which any civil claim would be adjudicated: inherent risk, negligence and duty to take care.


DIVE SLATE LIONFISH plastic with serial numbers and contact information) using the underwater protocol described in the article. The tagging procedure took approximately three minutes per fish, and the tagged fish were released back to their original capture locations within minutes. The lionfish handled the tagging procedure extremely well; no post-tagging mortality or unusual behavior was documented in any of the fish. Opportunistic sightings of lionfish by divers visiting the tagging area and nearby reefs provided an indication of the success of the tagging work. Of the 161 lionfish tagged, 24 percent were resighted or recovered between 29 and 188 days after tagging. Of those, 90 percent were found at the same site where they were initially tagged. Of the fish that were documented to have moved, movement was primarily between patch reef sites in shallow water. While 24 percent is an extremely high return rate for a mark-andrecapture study, one may wonder what happened to the other 76 percent of the tagged lionfish. Some may have died or been eaten, some may have moved far beyond the survey area, and others may have migrated deep down the wall beyond recreational diving limits. For the fish tagged in this initial study, we’ll never know. To help mitigate this uncertainty, some researchers are now using surgically implanted acoustic transmitting tags and remotely deployed receivers that monitor lionfish positions 24 hours a day. The surgical procedures used in the acoustic tagging closely follow the visual tagging method and are proving to be very successful in initial trials. The primary differences between the two tagging methods are that the surgical procedure requires suturing the tagged fish following insertion of the tag, which is about the size of an AAA battery, and also involves a slightly longer procedure time — approximately five to six minutes per fish. A more detailed study using an acoustic receiving array is planned for this summer and will provide continual movement data to a resolution of approximately 1 meter. In science as in life, the more we learn, the more questions we have. As the lionfish invasion progresses, the need for information about new tools and technologies for management and removal continues to increase. Combining the efforts of divers with the knowledge gained through research projects enhances our ability to combat the invasion more effectively and protect our native marine life from a fish that doesn’t belong in this part of the world. AD DIVING AS IT SHOULD BE! Experience the best diving the Turks & Caicos Islands have to offer. 1-800-234-7768 LIONFISH QUICK FACTS Distribution: North Carolina to Venezuela; shallows to 1,000 feet deep Density: more than 200 per acre (up to 1,200 per acre in some locations) Reproduction: 12,000 to 40,000 eggs as often as every two days, year round in warmer waters Maximum Size: 18.77 inches (official measurement); 20.47 inches (unofficial measurement) Age of 18.77-inch specimen: 4 years, 9 months Maximum age: up to 15 years (One specimen in an aquarium lived for 30 years.) Genetic makeup: only 9 haplotypes in the entire invaded territory Removal success: Two divers removed 815 lionfish in a single-day derby event in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2015. Derbies have been shown to reduce lionfish populations by about 70 percent across 58 square miles in the Bahamas. For more information, visit lionfish or 22 | SPRING 2016

In late 2015, as part of DAN’s Recompression Chamber Assistance Program (RCAP), DAN sent staff to Saba to help improve medical care for divers. ELEVATING THE STANDARD OF CARE By Nicole Berland MATÍAS NOCHETTO Saba is a small island, with fewer than 2,000 residents in its 5 square miles of steep forested mountains. Lovingly referred to by its inhabitants as the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean,” the diminutive Dutch municipality attracts tens of thousands of tourists to its scenic vistas and pristine waters each year. Most visitors to Saba return home with stories about the volcanoes they climbed, the reefs they explored and the locals they met. Most will not have had any reason to use the island’s medical facilities. But the unfortunate few who do become sick or injured on Saba will find themselves in good hands. Such was the case during last winter’s Saba Day — an annual islandwide celebration of local culture — when a local dive operation activated emergency medical services (EMS) to investigate a possible case of decompression sickness (DCS) on one of its boats. The diver had recently surfaced after a moderately aggressive dive when symptoms began. By the time the dive boat arrived at the pier, medical personnel were waiting to assess the patient’s symptoms and administer oxygen. The patient demonstrated signs and symptoms that suggested a mild case of neurological DCS. While there’s no such thing as a good day to get the bends, this was as close to that as possible: Three DAN® representatives were in Saba, and for the first day in years a fully staffed and operational hyperbaric chamber was only meters away. If the incident had occurred any earlier, the diver would have needed to be evacuated to a neighboring island, but this was the day the staff at Saba’s Fort Bay chamber had completed their formal training through DAN’s Recompression Chamber Assistance Program (RCAP) and was prepared to receive patients. The process of reopening the chamber began when Kai Wulf, parks manager for the Saba Conservation Foundation and longtime DAN supporter, applied for a DAN RCAP grant. RCAP is an International DAN (IDAN) initiative designed to provide assistance to recompression chambers in need and, through the international DAN organizations, has served more than 120 underfunded chambers around the world since its inception. Typically these chambers are on small islands in remote locations and are sustained by whatever money they make treating patients or by charging nominal fees through local dive operations. DAN provides RCAP grant beneficiaries with the training, equipment and emergency support they need to deliver quality care to injured divers. Saba’s chamber is a perfect example of the type of operation poised to benefit from RCAP. Donated by the Netherlands to Saba in 1991, the decommissioned naval chamber is humble but well maintained and ALERTDIVER.COM | 23

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