TIL in 1998, a married couple was left behind during a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Two days passed before anyone realized what had happened. Despite a 5-day search, the couple was never found. A dive slate was later recovered which read “… rescue us before we die…”

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After this incident, most dive boats switched to reading people’s names instead of just doing a head count.


When I was a teacher we were warned about headcounts. A school had come back from France to UK (by ferry), counted the kids on the coach and they were one over. Put it down to a miscount and drove off. An hour and or so later a kid walks down to the teacher and says there’s a child on the back seat who won’t stop crying. “Well who is it?” “We don’t know.” Turns out they were crying because they didn’t know any of the other kids, as they were on the wrong bus. Meanwhile there’s another school at the ferry port going frantic because they’ve just got off a boat and one of their kids has disappeared.


I was on a cruise in St. Thomas many years ago, and decided to take the dive excursion. I show up, and everyone else has a buddy. Not me – ex was pregnant and couldn’t dive. “No problem” says the divemaster, “I’ll be your buddy”. OK, great, off we go. Everything was great, and then he led us into an old wooden ship wreck. When diving, wrecks, caves, and such are called “overhead environments”, because you don’t have a direct path to the surface. This was my first time in one, and I was excited. I watched Lloyd Bridges in “Sea Hunt” as a kid, and I thought this was my chance to see what poking through a wreck was like. Divemaster tells me we’re going last, so I follow him. We are going through the wreck when he suddenly moves forward at high speed, and passes everyone else to get to the front. I try to follow him. But I can’t. I am stuck on something, and I can’t see what it is. I flail around for a second without success, look up, and realize I can’t see anybody. Ice cold moment of dread – for a second, I thought I was about to die, drowning alone in a shipwreck. Then, my training kicked in, I removed my tanks and BCD, cleared the obstruction, and found my way out of the boat. The rest of the group is already getting back in the boat. I swim the 100 yards or so to catch up, and my ‘buddy’ doesn’t even seem to be aware that I was missing. He was even upset when I didn’t tip leaving the boat. EDIT: Thanks for all the kind words. I didn’t call the guy out publicly because I’m Canadian. We like to be passive-aggressive, and I just sat there beaming hate stares at the guy as we drove in. A BCD is a buoyancy control device – a jacket you can inflate/deflate to adjust your buoyancy in the water.


Like 10-12 years ago, I go out fishing with my dad (key largo). We fish most of the day but then a big ugly storm pops up. We pick up our lines and head out. As we are heading out we notice a diver waving his arms. No dive boat in sight. We pick the guy up and he’s as white as a ghost exhausted, still with all his gear on. We give him water and ask him questions, he told us the name of the charter he was on. My dad got on the radio to try to find the dive boat. The dive boat answered and we met up with it. It was so windy and ugly from the storm that the dive boat couldn’t get close. The captain of the dive boat told us to tell the guy to get back into the water and they’d get him. Dude said “hell no” and ended up coming back with us to land.


Ah the buddy system. Never fails.