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DEMA Responds to Movie, 'Open Water'
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-Industry Counters With Fact-vs-Fiction -

New York, New York – (August 4, 2004) – DEMA (Diving Equipment & Marketing Association), the trade association representing dive retailers, equipment manufacturers, resorts, media and training agencies responds to the new movie “Open Water.”

According to Tom Ingram, Executive Director of DEMA, “We rarely have the opportunity to respond to events portrayed in a movie in advance of its release and support the Industry by dispelling myths created by cinematic fiction. In reality, diving is a safe and enjoyable sport. While the movie is a heart-pounding thriller, it is a fictionalized account of what could have happened in the most extreme confluence of unlikely events.”


Diving Reality vs Cinematic Fiction: DEMA (Diving Equipment & Marketing Association) counters the misconceptions about diving depicted in the new movie “Open Water” in their release “Diving Industry Takes Bite Out of New Movie ‘Open Water”. In reality, Scuba Diving is an active, fun and safe sport for men, women, and children as young as 10. To learn how to be part of this popular sport visit for the name of a dive retailer near you.

For a larger view of the image click here.


  • Entertaining Movie – YES! True Story – NO!

The story is based on the experience of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, an American couple left behind by their dive boat in the waters off Queensland Australia.  In reality, the couple simply disappeared - their actual fate has never been determined.  Everything that happens in the movie after the point of the couple’s disappearance is pure speculation resulting from a healthy imagination that makes for good entertainment.  


  • It is Exceptionally Rare That A Diver Would Be Left Behind on a Dive Trip

While not impossible, the series of events taking place in ‘Open Water’ is a highly unlikely scenario due to safety practices in place within the dive industry.  Obtaining certification to dive covers all the necessary precautions to avoid an outcome such as that depicted in the movie.  Unlike the movie, where the dive boat operators relied on marks on paper to account for returning divers, dive operators generally employ a roster name system that accounts for each individual diver by name or they do a physical head count to ensure all are aboard prior to departure.  In addition, many of today’s divers are equipped with emergency signaling devices (many dive boat operators require divers to wear them), that would indicate a location for the diver thereby avoiding the scenario depicted in the movie.  Safety procedures and safe practices today are more advanced than those of the 90s when the Lonergan's disappearance occurred.


  • Shark Attack is Not a Common Threat That Divers Face
    • Bees, wasps and snakes are responsible for more fatalities each year than sharks
    • In the US, the annual risk of death from lightning is 30 times greater than from shark attack1.
    • Consider the number of divers, swimmers, surfers, waders, etc. in the world, and then consider that only 3 shark attacks resulted in fatalities worldwide in 2002.  There were no fatalities that resulted from shark attacks in the US in 2003 2.
    • Contrary to what people might think, divers are actually at a lower risk of shark attack than other water sports participants.  54% of shark attacks were on surfers/windsurfers, 38% were on swimmers and only 6% were on divers/snorkelers.
    • Contrast 3 worldwide shark attack fatalities to 42,815 fatalities in the US alone due to car crashes.  There is a significantly higher chance of a person being killed going to or coming from the theater to see ‘Open Water’ versus a shark attack.


  • Diving Reality –vs– Entertainment Value

A few of the most notable inconsistencies are:  

    • In the movie, the female character is shown slipping beneath the surface – in her wetsuit and with an empty tank. In reality, the wetsuit and empty scuba tank are buoyant and would not allow a person to sink.
    • In the movie, the crew of the dive boat waits until the following day to clean the boat and discovers equipment left behind by a missing diver.  In reality, dive boats are normally cleaned right after the trip, so any unaccounted for diver would be recognized.
    • In the movie, none of the other divers/passengers on the boat notices the couple is missing.  In reality divers are social, so it is highly unlikely that their disappearance would go unnoticed.
    • The movie depicts an extraordinary series of events leading up to the loss of the divers – incompetent crew, divers ignoring their training, lack of procedures to count heads or call roll.  In reality, divers rarely ignore their training, dive boat crews are exceedingly competent and dive operators have procedures to ensure that they retrieve the same number of divers that entered in the water.


  • Diving is Safe, Fun and Healthy Sport.

The recreational diving industry has enjoyed an outstanding safety record over the past 40 years and people of all ages enjoy the exhilaration of diving with a relatively low incidence of injury. Technological advances in equipment, excellent self-regulated educational programs and training standards, and customer service-oriented diving resorts, enable people of all ages, as young as 10, to enjoy scuba diving.


 Some agencies have estimated as many as 2 to 3 million people dive in the US each year. The DAN 2004 Report on Decompression Illness, Diving Fatalities and Project Dive Exploration lists 89 fatalities and 348 injuries involving US and Canadian divers3.



1  Burgess: G.H. 1991 Shark Attack and the International Shark Attack File

2  ISAF Statistics for Worldwide Locations of Highest Shark Attack Activity since 1990.

3  More injury incidents than this were reported, but not all had sufficient info to meet reporting criteria.  In 2002, DAN America received 522 injury reports out of 1,063 treated cases.  In 474 cases, reports pertained to recreational divers who resided in the US or Canada.  A total of 348 written reports were described in the annual report.


Resources: PADI, SSI, NAUI, DEMA and DAN websites; New York Times article dated 8/1/04 entitled, “Dying at Sea. Probably.” by Tony Horwitz.



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DEMA Executive Director Tom Ingram is available for comment.  Please contact Candice Kimmel at 212-956-5900 to arrange an interview.



Contact:        Candice Kimmel


                   Adams Unlimited

                   212-956-5900 / 212-956-5913

DEMA, The Diving Equipment & Marketing Association | US Toll Free: (800) 862-3483 | Ph: (858) 616-6408 | Fx: (858) 616-6495 |