DIVING SKILLS: Woody Falls holds up a red emperor caught during a spearfishing session.
DIVING SKILLS: Woody Falls holds up a red emperor caught during a spearfishing session. Photo Contributed

Spearfishing community unites for safety

WHEN a shark rushed at Woody Falls at 27m under water, he knew he wouldn't have enough oxygen to get to the surface.

Sure enough, 2m below the waves the spearfisher lost consciousness.

Spearfishing utilises the breath-holding skills of freediving to hunt for fish underwater without the use of supplementary oxygen.

Woody said the distraction of the shark was enough to put him in danger.

"When the shark rushed at me, I had to expend a lot of energy to fend him off. It used up all of my time, I knew when I got to 15m I wouldn't make it," the Gladstone man said.

Luckily the avid diver was with two buddies who had witnessed the event and were ready to bring him up after he blacked out.

Woody and his partners had used the dive-buddy system correctly and had avoided any serious injury as a consequence.

After the death of a 19-year-old man on the Gold Coast from a shallow-water blackout this week, Woody wants everyone in the spearfishing community to be more safety conscious.

"It jogged a lot of people... safety is of a paramount importance. It's hard to be 100% on top of it all the time... if you look away for even a minute your buddy can be 20-30m away," he said.

"It can happen to anyone... everyone should have a system that they have worked out with their crew."

Woody said that as a result of the recent tragedy, safety courses had been popping up all over the region.

This weekend, circles of Yeppoon spearfishers are getting together as a group to ensure members are educated on basic resuscitation.

The lessons will primarily revolve around in-water resuscitation and rescue tactics when trouble arises.

One of the course participants said like every other hobby, there was a proper way to do things.

"If you train properly and follow the rules, it is as safe as every other sport," he said.

The risks

Blackout risks for divers.

Shallow water blackout:

Occurs below the surface. Results from an insufficient amount of carbon dioxide to activate the body's natural impulse to breathe

Samba: Normally occurs at the surface.

Named for the Samba dance, it is a partial loss of physical or mental integrity and normally is the pre-curser to a blackout.

(www.aquaticsafetygroup.com)

(www.sanssoucidolphins.org)



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