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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.

THE Maldives A NEW LOOK

THE Maldives A NEW LOOK AT AN OLD FAVORITE [ TEXT AND PHOTOS BY STEPHEN FRINK [ The last time I went to the Maldives was in 2010. Although it was a wonderful trip, I felt a nagging bit of guilt about it. At the south end of Ari Atoll is a place where whale sharks come to feed on plankton. It’s also the site of a resort development, and a gaggle of tourists can be found there at any given time. The masses of snorkelers flocking to the few whale sharks in the vicinity create a bit of a melee. When I was there I swam down to take an upward-angled photo, and when it was time to ascend I struggled to find a spot on the surface free of human bodies or whale shark. It wasn’t lost on me that I was part of the problem — as culpable and frenzied as the rest. In the end I felt bad for the whale shark, which had to deal with so much interference while simply trying to feed. Reliable whale-shark encounters are one of the Maldives’ iconic attractions, but that day I decided that the next time I visited I would find an itinerary that was outside of the mainstream. Fortunately, in an archipelago of 1,192 islands in 26 atolls, there are plenty of options. Regardless of where you intend to go in the Maldives, your first stop will be the international airport in Malé. From there you’ll transfer to a liveaboard or an island-based resort. With 35,000 square miles of sovereign nation but less than 115 square miles of land, a boat or seaplane will be necessary to get you where you want to go. This trip was a hybrid of new (to me) areas to the north and familiar dive opportunities in the south that are simply too good to ignore. Even though we boarded our liveaboard in the early afternoon and could have done our checkout dive that same day, we opted to motor north, steaming overnight while we checked into our cabins, assembled our cameras and had our first (of many) dive briefings. This was good, because it allowed us to be better educated about how the geographic diversity of these islands gave rise to distinct and unique reef structures and to learn about the challenges and opportunities each might present. The channel, or “kandu,” is a deep cleft in the rim of an atoll that connects the inner lagoon with the open ocean. These channels feature swift currents at times, as the tides move massive amounts of water through these relatively narrow openings. They are best dived during incoming tides when clear water streams into the lagoon (and if a diver is swept beyond the intended pickup, it will be into the shelter of the lagoon rather than the open ocean). Our group of dedicated underwater photographers groaned audibly when presented with the possibility of diving in heavy currents, as they make composition difficult, but not all divers share this concern, and diving in the current can be a rush. A “faru” is a circular reef that rises from the ocean floor within a channel. Featuring ledges and overhangs where marine life congregates, farus tend to attract pelagic life because of their exposure to currents. A “thila” is a shallow reef within an atoll — like a small seamount that rises from a 20- or 30-foot seafloor. Because of the influence of tidal currents, significant coral and fish life may be found on thilas. Thilas and farus are relatively easy dives, mostly free of current and easily well suited to multilevel diving or prolonged ascents. 64 | SPRING 2016

The Maldives anemonefish is endemic to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The Maldives are known for abundant small and medium-sized tropical reef fish as well as larger pelagic creatures such as whale sharks and manta rays. ALERTDIVER.COM | 65

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