Underwater hunting is inherently risky. Not only do we have to contend with the hazards that come with all diving environments, but we compound those risks by involving unpredictable marine life, challenging physical conditions, and a suite of additional equipment. Before you go after your favorite catch this year, study these guidelines and learn how you can minimize your risks.
Watch your air
Running out of air is one of the most common causes of diving incidents, and in the face of recurring accidents it bears repeating – watch your air! Your diving skills should be well-practiced before you even consider adding underwater hunting to your repertoire of activities, and you need to remember to focus on the diving first and the hunting second. It’s easy to get distracted by the thrill of the chase, and it’s imperative that you constantly remind yourself to check your air, maintain your depth, and watch your dive plan while you’re hunting. The lobster will still be there tomorrow, and your dive buddy would rather have to buy a pizza than have to respond to a diving emergency because you went back for one more lobster without safely managing your air.
Check your equipment
Equipment malfunctions are a major cause of diving accidents, and hunting equipment is no different. Many of us have spear guns, tickle sticks, and diving equipment that only comes out for hunting season. A cracking spear-gun band might end your hunt before it starts, but a leaking BCD or failed regulator could put you at a risk for a serious injury. Whether all of your equipment has been sitting unused, or just your hunting equipment, make sure that you have everything checked or serviced by your local dive shop before you hit the water.
Check your health
Dive safety begins with your ability to adequately handle the physical stress of the diving. Hunting for lobster, abalone, or fish can give you a workout even on days with optimal conditions, and perfect health. Poor sea conditions, low-visibility, and currents can be found at many hunting sites, and they can exacerbate health or fitness issues quickly. Carrying a heavy catch back or reeling in a prize fish will add to the physical challenges of hunting, and they require excellent cardiovascular fitness. Every year a number of divers get injured due to health problems they were not aware of previously that are made worse by strenuous diving conditions. Improving your physical fitness and getting a health checkup before you dive will mitigate your risk of injury, make your dives more enjoyable, and maximize the amount of time you can spend in the water.
For more information on hunting and diving safety, visit www.DAN.org/Health.