Declared a World Heritage site in 1981 and the only living structure visible from outer space, the Great Barrier Reef consists of around 3,400 individual reefs and stretches for over 2,300 km from Fraser Island (just off Queensland, Australia’s coastline) to the coast of Papua New Guinea. Spectacular coral formations and the reef’s immense diversity of marine life make the Great Barrier Reef a highly popular destination for divers.
Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
Unfortunately, diving in the Great Barrier Reef is not entirely without risk. Many marine life species which divers are likely to encounter when diving in the Great Barrier Reef are highly venomous and can deliver potentially fatal bites or stings. Such species include, for example, the:
- Irukandji jellyfish
- Box jellyfish
- Blue-ringed octopus
- Cone shells
- Lion fish
- Stone fish
There are also about 15 species of lethal venom producing sea snakes. While not typically aggressive and small-fanged, these snakes, like all of the above, should be treated with utmost respect at all times.
Other dangers while diving in the Great Barrier Reef
Then, of course, there is the risk of cyclones or storm tides causing diving accidents including crew members or passengers being swept overboard or sustaining injuries by falling objects or being thrown about on board.
Wet surfaces, stored tackle and other hazards on board or while boarding/disembarking from diving tour boats could also result in injuries by slips, trips and falls. In addition, faulty equipment may cause divers to experience difficulties or sustain injuries while under water.
Your rights as a diver
Specialised dive operators have a duty of care towards their passengers. This means they should take all necessary precautions to prevent accidental injuries and includes:
- Providing adequate instructions for beginners and suitable, well-maintained equipment
- Providing warnings and instructions concerning how to approach (or not, for that matter) potentially dangerous marine life
- Monitoring weather forecasts and returning divers to safety before weather conditions become too dangerous
- Keeping the deck of their boat as dry and clutter-free as possible to prevent injuries by tripping, slipping or falling
Should you be injured in a diving or boating accident caused by your diving tour operator breaching his duty of care, you could have the right to claim travel accident compensation. Call our freephone advice line on 0800 689 0500 (landline telephones) or 0333 500 0993 (mobile phones) to learn more about making personal injury claims with the help of Accident Advice Helpline’s legal experts.
Date Published: December 9, 2015
Author: David Brown