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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.

LOCAL DIVING KEYSTONE

LOCAL DIVING KEYSTONE JETTY, WASHINGTON Text and photos by Brandon Cole Washington state has a wealth of great local dive sites, and among the standouts is Keystone Jetty in Fort Casey State Park. After a short ferry ride from Seattle to Whidbey Island and a 10-yard stroll down a cobble beach, you’re in the water and surrounded by critters. When I first dived here more than 25 years ago, I was skeptical. Shore dives, foreign and domestic, rarely seemed to deliver the abundance of interesting marine life that has always been my primary motivator for submersion. But Keystone was an exception and still pleasantly surprises today. From obscure little species that will light up the eyes of fish geeks to the big-name Pacific Northwest celebrity with eight tentacles, it’s extraordinary what you might bump into. There are two different dive sites here. The most frequently explored is “the jetty” — a 75-yard-long sloping boulder pile stretching from the waterline out to 60 feet deep that is a manmade breakwater for the Coupeville (Keystone)–Port Townsend ferry terminal in the harbor to the west. Scuba divers should stay on the east side of the rocks, well away from the ferry’s pathway. About 250 yards to the east of the dive site: an abandoned jetty is the second wharf 10 yards offshore with a jungle gym of pier pilings. We begin our creature quest in the lee of the jetty in just a few feet of water. I’m in hot pursuit of pencil-sized gunnels — eellike beasties in red or camo green that slither among iridescent algae — when I stumble upon a decorated warbonnet sporting a spikey hairdo and pouty lips. It’s definitely one of the coolest characters in this emerald sea. I manage to get a portrait before it disappears. I could gladly devote an entire dive to this species, but my buddy shakes her head and points toward deeper water. I obey. I guess some people feel an hourlong dive in 5 feet of water is not an impressive logbook entry. The tumbling boulders at 20 to 30 feet are painted pink by coralline algae and orange by colonies of tunicates. Sculpins, greenlings and surfperch flit about like scaled tropical birds. We find opalescent nudibranchs, a clown dorid and a lovely alabaster sea slug. The nooks and crannies are absolutely crawling with crabs — sharpnose, decorators and hermits along with juvenile Puget Sound kings, kelps and even cryptic hairy heart crabs. Dozens of scallops lie about, smiling at us, until I move too close for a shot and launch them into a swimming fit. Clapping madly to jerkily jet in random directions like maniacal sets of flying false teeth, the scallops are a hilarious sight. 34 | SPRING 2016

A northern kelp crab balances nimbly on a stalk of bull kelp. Opposite: A smallish giant Pacific octopus jets through inky blackness on a night dive on the jetty. ALERTDIVER.COM | 35

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