Date: 1/2/2003

The Australian Queensland State Government will tighten safety regulations for recreational diving after a spate of snorkelling deaths.

The Government was drafting changes late January to diving codes of practice after the deaths of four men – in their 20’s and all apparently fit – in snorkelling accidents since mid-December.

At least two of the deaths may have been caused by a syndrome known as “shallow water blackout”, in which snorkellers hyperventilate in order to stay underwater longer.

The dive industry, stunned by the deaths, recently called for a tougher stance on hyperventilation among snorkellers, including a possible ban on the practice. The Government drew short of a ban, indicating instead that dive and other marine operators would be required in future to warn snorkellers specifically about the dangers of shallow water blackout.

Experienced breath-hold divers are at particular risk in that they have the ability and technique to do long and deep dives. Industry body Dive Queensland said it had asked for changes to the snorkelling code of practice.

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