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I Died Saving Another

As we’ve come to understand—thank you author Stratis Kas and Human Diver—”close calls” during diving operations are more common than most people realize. But how many divers have lost their lives trying to save another? Photographer/videographer Nico Lurot has. Thankfully, he was brought back to life, and is therefore able to share this harrowing, thorny tale.



Text and images by Nico Lurot.

During a recent photographic trip, I developed a good camaraderie with a few other photographers onboard. One evening, we were all sharing dive stories, and much like the iconic scene from Jaws where Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw were playing a game of one-upmanship by comparing scars, we were doing the same, trying to one-up each other with our close call dive experiences. I listened to a few people’s stories but had to eventually interject: “These are all cool stories, but did you die?”. They looked at me puzzled and one replied, “Did you? The short answer was “Yes.” This is the story about how I did.

Some context is needed though. In 2010, I set up Thailand’s first underwater imaging academy, with a team of divers whom I had worked with for a few years and trusted not only as exceptional filmmakers but also as world class dive guides. We wanted to create a hub in a highly saturated recreational market that offered something different: 1-1 dive guiding for underwater photographers and videographers of all levels. 

The idea proved to be highly successful, but had one obvious limitation: diversity of dive sites. Phuket, Thailand, is blessed with a great diversity of local sites ranging from between one and a half to three hours away, and offers everything from wrecks and reefs to wall dives and muck dives. However, all in all, there are only about 15 sites, which meant it was hard to keep clients coming back year after year. While clients liked the service provided, like all divers, there was always the yearning for something new.

My close friend, Takuya, one of the best dive guides I’ve ever known and an encyclopedia of marine life knowledge, suggested we expand our reach. We decided to charter the Scuba Explorer liveaboard for a season (image below), to fill the vessel with underwater photographers and do something that the local market called us “crazy young idiots” for, venturing to dive sites that were supposedly not reachable from Phuket.

The Scuba Explorer Liveaboard

Takuya and I chose the Scuba Explorer because of her size and the size of her fuel tanks. We figured out that if we cruised slowly, we would be able to reach an area called the Adang Archipelago, right on the border of Malaysia in the south. It has always been possible to dive Adang, but to reach it normally involved taking a plane ride to Hat Yai (a southern Thai province) and then spend a long day and half minivan ride through a part of Thailand known for terrorist attacks. Needless to say, tourists are rightfully advised to stay away from there. Understandably, divers tended to avoid Adang. Although the archipelago itself was perfectly safe, the journey there by minivan was dangerous. Logistically, reaching it by boat from Phuket had never been done before. 

We didn’t want to risk bringing clients onboard a test cruise, so we paid the expenses ourselves, with the hope that the trip would be successful. It was. Marine life was like nothing we could have anticipated. Due to the lack of divers and boats, the reefs were teeming with fish life. We saw species that were not known to us at our local sites, (Star-Eye Octopus), species that were not meant to be in Thai waters (Maldive Sponge Snails), huge tornadoes of pelagic fish like Rainbow Runners and Tuna, reefs that looked like they had never been damaged by diver interaction and, to top it all off, during a surface interval, we were greeted by a swarm of devil rays that jumped out the water as if to welcome us, all caught on video (below).

Training New Staff

Once we returned to Phuket, we began to market this trip, and the bookings came rolling in. Then we had a new problem: keeping our 1-1 guiding promise on a liveaboard. The size of the vessel was not the problem. The problem was the amount of staff I had whom I trusted to deliver the service we had come to be known for. So we launched an initiative to train people to become underwater photographer guides.

Here comes the scary part. On one of our cruises to Adang, we were welcoming onboard a new trainee, who out of respect shall remain nameless. He had come highly recommended by one of my colleagues at Discovery channel, so I was really looking forward to seeing what he could do. However, you know when you get a certain vibe from someone? You just know instantly that they’re going to be trouble? That’s what happened to me the moment he stepped on the boat, despite his glowing references. His whole energy was off. He was arrogant, too sure of himself, and gave a “seen it all before/nothing new you can teach me” vibe.

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The staff felt it too, and told me they did, so I suggested he accompany me. I thought that, if he was with the “boss,” he would be less likely to cause me trouble. That was the hope at least. We reached our first dive site the following morning, an easy-going dive in the Phi Phi Island Marine Park (known for being the location where “the Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed). To his credit, the new trainee seemed to know what he was doing. He was proficient at finding and identifying species, and definitely had an understanding of what an underwater photographer needs from their guide. I was happy, the client we were looking after was happy. Maybe I was wrong about this trainee?

On to the second dive, I wanted to see what he was like with a camera underwater. I assumed the role of guide again on this dive, and instructed the trainee to take up the rear, and multi-task both photo taking, being aware where we were at all times, and being on the lookout for any unique species. The area was called Koh Haa, famed for having some stunning decorated caverns and beautiful reefs.

Danger, Danger

Toward the end of the dive, we were finishing off along a wall, but the swell started to pick up and there was a risk of being bashed against the wall. I signaled that we do our safety stop away from the wall, and both the client and the trainee replied with an “ok.” sign. After swimming out a few meters and when ready to surface, I turned around to signal “go up,” only to find I was minus the trainee. I looked back over toward the wall, and spotted him attempting to take a photo of a clown fish. Of all things, a clown fish!

If you’ve never attempted to take a photo of a clown fish before, I can tell you they are notoriously tricky to get good images of. They live in anemones, they never stay still for long, constantly coming in and out of the anemone. Add to that the difficulty of the large swell, and any attempt to capture this clown fish was just not going to be possible.

And here’s where the trainee made a massive error. He became so focused on trying to get this difficult subject in equally difficult conditions, that he made the decision to hold onto something to try and stabilize himself, and because he was so narrowed in on this clown fish, he wasn’t looking where he was about to put his hand. To my horror, he was about to grab onto a crown of thorns starfish (image below), a highly venomous pin prick battle tank of an animal. 

Now the following was split-second reaction stuff. I had to speed over to him in an attempt to save him, but how? If I tried to grab him, it would surprise him and he would pull away, likely impaling himself onto the crown of thorns. Imagine a time when a sound has made you jump, you instinctively jump away from it in fear right? Same thing here. So, my second thought was to grab him by the tank and pull him away. The problem with that was that by the time I  reached him, his hand would be so close to the crown of thorns that the natural whiplash caused from yanking his tank would risk pushing his hand onto the starfish. 

As I said, this was split-second thinking … The last possible solution I had was the reverse of the first idea. Instead of grabbing his hand from the top and risking him pulling away towards the starfish, I would put my hand between his hand and the starfish and tap upwards, hopefully surprising him and making him pull away in the opposite direction. At least logic dictated that he should pull away. After all, if something surprised you, you would surely move in the opposite direction right?

Unfortunately for me, this didn’t happen. The trainee, against my definition of logic, felt my hand against his and instead of pulling away, slammed me down onto the starfish. The pain was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The puncture wounds where the thorns had penetrated my thumb began literally gushing blood. I managed to make it back to the boat with both client and the trainee, where I apologized to the client for rushing off and explained what had happened.

Once Bitten, Don’t Die!

I began sweating profusely as a reaction to the venom. Then I vomited, and then I blacked out. I woke up (Takuya told me it was a few minutes later) and was shivering uncontrollably, not good when you consider the outside temperature was 37° C/98° F. Clearly the venom was having a serious effect and was getting worse every moment. The closest hospital was back on Phi Phi island, about an hour away. The sweating, vomiting, blacking out, shivering cycle repeated every 20 minutes or so while on the way to Phi Phi. I began to feel very weak.

When we reached Phi Phi, we were told the doctor had taken the day off and was unreachable. The only person there was a nurse, whom we had to show a photo of the crown of thorns too, so she could understand what had poisoned me. She replied in Thai, “Mai Dee,” which directly translates as “Not good”. No kidding! She gave me a multitude of drips directly into the vein in my right hand, but said I needed medical attention from the mainland. Takuya rushed out onto the beach, found the smallest speed boat with the biggest engine (less weight with a big engine obviously equals more speed), and chartered it back to Phuket. Normally the journey time between Phi Phi island to Phuket is one and a half to three hours, depending on the vessel. This little speedboat did it in 25 minutes. 

Takuya was doing everything he could to keep me from blacking out on the way back. What was scary was that I began to find it increasingly hard to breathe. When we got to the harbor, the ambulance was there waiting for us. Takuya told them what happened and what my reaction to the poison had been. They explained that since it had been close to two hours, I was lucky to have kept breathing, but that I was going into anaphylactic shock.

The next thing I remember is arriving at the hospital, being rushed in, seeing hospital lights overhead passing by. Then I honestly don’t remember what happened.  I woke up and saw three faces I didn’t recognize (but who were clearly medical professionals) and Takuya’s face all looking down at me in shock. Takuya shouted “Nico-san! Are you okay?”

In complete surprise I answered, “Yes mate, feeling a bit rough, but I’m okay. Why?” His response will stay with me forever. “You flatlined!” When someone says that to you, you have an awfully strange feeling—almost a feeling of emptiness, like, it’s that easy? I believe my response was something along the lines of “Huh?” He pointed to the electrocardiogram, which I  realized in my dazed state was attached to me, and he said “You flatlined! You were out cold, we were all talking and then we heard, “beep.. Beep… beeeeeeeeep.” You died Nico-san! Are you ok?”

What happened between arriving at the hospital and waking up to faces saying “You died” is all a blur. I remember nothing. I don’t have any poetic closing to this, not any life lesson to share, nor some story about the other side, nor any “My life flashed before my eyes” recount to tell. The reality is that I walked away with my life, which I’m hugely thankful for, obviously. But the whole thing made me question if I did the right thing. The honest answer is I think so. That may be the only take-away from this story for anyone who has dealt with a near-death or death experience when diving. Don’t question what you did. Don’t ask, “If I had done things differently, would I have gotten a better result?” because the reality is, you don’t know. Needless to say though, we did not keep this trainee onboard.

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In hindsight, I came out okay (although minus a chunk of my right thumb which was surgically removed), and no one else was hurt. The point of this story is not only to share how quickly something can go  wrong, but what the potential cost of trying to save someone is. It was very scary, I ended up ok, and no one lost their life. Crisis somewhat averted. I wouldn’t even hesitate to do it again, despite what happened to me. The idea of having someone I was responsible for die, would be unbearable. I’m happy that I had such quick, instinctive reactions and stopped another from getting hurt. The end result is everyone is safe and maybe it’s a great story to tell my daughter one day.

Nico Lurot started diving at age 10 and has made more than 3,000 dives all over the world. He filmed underwater in South East Asia for nearly a decade between 2006 and 2015, working with some notable production houses along the way. He has been a GUE diver since 2018, and his desire to share his passion for underwater photography & videography with our community is evident. Nico runs with GUE’s YouTube channel and is working with GUE’s marketing and media team on social media development, and GUE’s outreach.  


Twenty-five Years in the Pursuit of Excellence – The Evolution and Future of GUE

Founder and president Jarrod Jablonski describes his more than a quarter of a century long quest to promote excellence in technical diving.




by Jarrod Jablonski. Images courtesy of J. Jablonski and GUE unless noted.

The most difficult challenges we confront in our lives are the most formative and are instrumental in shaping the person we become. When I founded Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), the younger version of myself could not have foreseen all the challenges I would face, but equally true is that he would not have known the joy, the cherished relationships, the sense of purpose, the rich adventures, the humbling expressions of appreciation from those impacted, or the satisfaction of seeing the organization evolve and reshape our industry. Many kindred souls and extraordinary events have shaped these last 25 years, and an annotated chronology of GUE is included in this issue of InDEPTH. This timeline, however, will fail to capture the heart behind the creation of GUE, it will miss the passionate determination currently directing GUE, or the committed dedication ready to guide the next 25 years.

Photo courtesy of Kirill Egorov

I don’t remember a time that I was not in, around, and under the water. Having learned to swim before I could walk, my mother helped infuse a deep connection to the aquatic world. I was scuba certified in South Florida with my father, and promptly took all our gear to North Florida where I became a dive instructor at the University of Florida. It was then that I began my infatuation with cave diving. I was in the perfect place for it, and my insatiable curiosity was multiplied while exploring new environments. I found myself with a strong desire to visit unique and hard-to-reach places, be they far inside a cave or deep within the ocean. 

My enthusiasm for learning was pressed into service as an educator, and I became enamored with sharing these special environments. Along with this desire to share the beauty and uniqueness of underwater caves was a focused wish to assist people in acquiring the skills I could see they needed to support their personal diving goals. It could be said that these early experiences were the seeds that would germinate, grow, mature, and bloom into the organizing principles for GUE.

Brent Scarabin, Jarrod and George “Trey” Irvine getting ready to dive.
Jarrod with his Halcyon PVR-BASC prototype.
George Irvine and Jarrod conducting the original DIR workshop.

The Pre-GUE Years

Before jumping into the formational days of GUE, allow me to help you visualize the environment that was the incubator for the idea that became GUE’s reality. By the mid-1990s, I was deeply involved in a variety of exploration activities and had been striving to refine my own teaching capacity alongside this growing obsession for exploratory diving. While teaching my open water students, I was in the habit of practicing to refine my own trim and buoyancy, noticing that the students quickly progressed and were mostly able to copy my position in the water. Rather than jump immediately into the skills that were prescribed, I started to take more time to refine their comfort and general competency. This subtle shift made a world of difference in the training outcomes, creating impressive divers with only slightly more time and a shift in focus. In fact, the local dive boats would often stare in disbelief when told these divers were freshly certified, saying they looked better than most open water instructors! 

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By this point in my career, I could see the problems I was confronting were more systemic and less individualistic. In retrospect, it seemed obvious that key principles had been missing in both my recreational and technical education, not to mention the instructor training I received. The lack of basic skill refinement seemed to occur at all levels of training, from the beginner to the advanced diver. Core skills like buoyancy or in-water control were mainly left for divers to figure out on their own and almost nobody had a meaningful emphasis on efficient movement in the water. It was nearly unheard of to fail people in scuba diving, and even delaying certification for people with weak skills was very unusual. This remains all too common to this day, but I believe GUE has shifted the focus in important ways, encouraging people to think of certification more as a process and less as a right granted to them because they paid for training. 

L2R: Jarrod Todd Kincaid and Rickard Lundgren plotting their 1999 Britannic expedition.

The weakness in skill refinement during dive training was further amplified by little-to-no training in how to handle problems when they developed while diving, as they always do. In those days, even technical/cave training had very little in the way of realistic training in problem resolution. The rare practice of failures was deeply disconnected from reality. For example, there was almost no realistic scenario training for things like a failed regulator or light. What little practice there was wasn’t integrated into the actual dive and seemed largely useless in preparing for real problems. I began testing some of my students with mock equipment failures, and I was shocked at how poorly even the best students performed. They were able to quickly develop the needed skills, but seeing how badly most handled their first attempts left me troubled about the response of most certified divers should they experience problems while diving, as they inevitably would. 

Diving Fatalities

Meanwhile, I was surrounded by a continual progression of diving fatalities, and most appeared entirely preventable. The loss of dear friends and close associates had a deep impact on my view of dive training and especially on the procedures being emphasized at that time within the community. The industry, in those early days, was wholly focused on deep air and solo diving. However, alarmingly lacking were clear bottle marking or gas switching protocols. It seemed to me to be no coincidence that diver after diver lost their lives simply because they breathed the wrong bottle at depth. Many others died mysteriously during solo dives or while deep diving with air. 

One of the more impactful fatalities was Bob McGuire, who was a drill sergeant, friend, and occasional dive buddy. He was normally very careful and focused. One day a small problem with one regulator caused him to switch regulators before getting in the water. He was using a system that used color-coded regulators to identify the gas breathed. When switching the broken regulator, he either did not remember or did not have an appropriately colored regulator. This small mistake cost him his life. I clearly remember turning that one around in my head quite a bit. Something that trivial should not result in the loss of a life. 

Also disturbing was the double fatality of good friends, Chris and Chrissy Rouse, who lost their lives while diving a German U-boat in 70 m/230 ft of water off the coast of New Jersey. I remember, as if the conversation with Chris were yesterday, asking him not to use air and even offering to support the cost as a counter to his argument about the cost of helium. And the tragedies continued: The loss of one of my closest friends Sherwood Schille, the death of my friend Steve Berman who lived next to me and with whom I had dived hundreds of times, the shock of losing pioneering explorer Sheck Exley, the regular stream of tech divers, and the half dozen body recoveries I made over only a couple years, which not only saddened me greatly, but also made me angry. Clearly, a radically different approach was needed.

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Learning to Explore

Meanwhile, my own exploration activities were expanding rapidly. Our teams were seeking every opportunity to grow their capability while reducing unnecessary risk. To that end, we ceased deep air diving and instituted a series of common protocols with standardized equipment configurations, both of which showed great promise in expanding safety, efficiency, and comfort. We got a lot of things wrong and experienced enough near misses to keep us sharp and in search of continual improvement. 

Casey McKinlay and Jarrod with stages and Gavin scooters in Wakulla Springs. Photo courtesy of David Rhea

But we looked carefully at every aspect of our diving, seeking ways to advance safety, efficiency, and all-around competency while focusing plenty of attention into the uncommon practice of large-scale, team diving, utilizing setup dives, safety divers, and inwater support. We developed diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) towing techniques, which is something that had not been done previously. We mostly ignored and then rewrote CNS oxygen toxicity calculations, developed novel strategies for calculating decompression time, and created and refined standard procedures for everything from bottle switching to equipment configurations. Many of these developments arose from simple necessity. There were no available decompression programs and no decompression tables available for the dives we were doing. Commonly used calculations designed to reduce the risk of oxygen toxicity were useless to our teams, because even our more casual dives were 10, 20, or even 30 times the allowable limit. The industry today takes most of this for granted, but in the early days of technical diving, we had very few tools, save a deep motivation to go where no one had gone before.

All in a dive of diving for the WKPP.

Many of these adventures included friends in the Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP), where I refined policies within the team and most directly with longtime dive buddy George Irvine. This “Doing it Right” (DIR) approach sought to create a more expansive system than Hogarthian diving, which itself had been born in the early years of the WKPP and was named after William Hogarth Main, a friend and frequent dive buddy of the time. By this point, I had been writing about and expanding upon Hogarthian diving for many years. More and more of the ideas we wanted to develop were not Bill Main’s priorities and lumping them into his namesake became impractical, especially given all the debate within the community over what was and was not Hogarthian. 

A similar move from DIR occurred some years later when GUE stepped away from the circular debates that sought to explain DIR and embraced a GUE configuration with standard protocols, something entirely within our scope to define.

These accumulating events reached critical mass in 1998. I had experienced strong resistance to any form of standardization, even having been asked to join a special meeting of the board of directors (BOD) for a prominent cave diving agency. Their intention was to discourage me from using any form of standard configuration, claiming that students should be allowed to do whatever they “felt’ was best. It was disconcerting for me, as a young instructor, to be challenged by pioneers in the sport; nevertheless, I couldn’t agree with the edict that someone who was doing something for the first time should be tasked with determining how it should be done. 

This sort of discussion was common, but the final straw occurred when I was approached by the head of a technical diving agency, an organization for which I had taught for many years. I was informed that he considered it a violation of standards not to teach air to a depth of at least 57 m/190 ft. This same individual told me that I had to stop using MOD bottle markings and fall in line with the other practices endorsed by his agency. Push had finally come to shove, and I set out to legitimize the training methods and dive protocols that had been incubating in my mind and refined with our teams over the previous decade. Years of trial and many errors while operating in dynamic and challenging environments were helping us to identify what practices were most successful in support of excellence, safety, and enjoyment.

Forming GUE

Forming GUE as a non-profit company was intended to neutralize the profit motivations that appeared to plague other agencies. We hoped to remove the incentive to train—and certify—the greatest number of divers as quickly as possible because it seemed at odds with ensuring comfortable and capable divers. The absence of a profit motive complemented the aspirational plans that longtime friend Todd Kincaid and I had dreamed of. We imagined a global organization that would facilitate the efforts of underwater explorers while supporting scientific research and conservation initiatives. 

I hoped to create an agency that placed most of the revenue in the hands of fully engaged and enthusiastic instructors, allowing them the chance to earn a good living and become professionals who might stay within the industry over many years. Of course, that required forgoing the personal benefit of ownership and reduced the revenue available to the agency, braking its growth and complicating expansion plans. This not only slowed growth but provided huge challenges in developing a proper support network while creating the agency I envisioned. There were years of stressful days and nights because of the need to forgo compensation and the deep dependance upon generous volunteers who had to fit GUE into their busy lives. If it were not for these individuals and our loyal members, we would likely never have been successful. Volunteer support and GUE membership have been and remain critical to the growing success of our agency. If you are now or have ever been a volunteer or GUE member, your contribution is a significant part of our success, and we thank you. 

Photo courtesy of Kirill Egorov

The challenges of the early years gave way to steady progress—always slower than desired, with ups and downs, but progress, nonetheless. Some challenges were not obvious at the outset. For example, many regions around the world were very poorly developed in technical diving. Agencies intent on growth seemed to ignore that problem, choosing whoever was available, and regardless of their experience in the discipline, they would soon be teaching. 

This decision to promote people with limited experience became especially problematic when it came to Instructor Trainers. People with almost no experience in something like trimix diving were qualifying trimix instructors. Watching this play out in agency after agency, and on continent after continent, was a troubling affair. Conversely, it took many years for GUE to develop and train people of appropriate experience, especially when looking to critical roles, including high-level tech and instructor trainers. At the same time, GUE’s efforts shaped the industry in no small fashion as agencies began to model their programs after GUE’s training protocols. Initially, having insisted that nobody would take something like Fundamentals, every agency followed suit in developing their own version of these programs, usually taught by divers that had followed GUE training. 

This evolving trend wasn’t without complexity but was largely a positive outcome. Agencies soon focused on fundamental skills, incorporated some form of problem-resolution training, adhered to GUE bottle and gas switching protocols, reduced insistence on deep air, and started talking more about developing skilled divers, among other changes. This evolution was significant when compared to the days of arguing about why a person could not learn to use trimix until they were good while diving deep on air. 

To be sure, a good share of these changes was more about maintaining business relevance than making substantive improvements. The changes themselves were often more style than substance, lacking objective performance standards and the appropriate retraining of instructors. Despite these weaknesses, they remain positive developments. Talking about something is an important first step and, in all cases, it makes room for strong instructors in any given agency to practice what is being preached. In fact, these evolving trends have allowed GUE to now push further in the effort to create skilled and experienced divers, enhancing our ability to run progressively more elaborate projects with increasingly more sophisticated outcomes. 

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The Future of GUE

The coming decades of GUE’s future appear very bright. Slow but steady growth has now placed the organization in a position to make wise investments, ensuring a vibrant and integrated approach. Meanwhile, evolving technology and a broad global base place GUE in a unique and formidable position. Key structural and personnel adjustments complement a growing range of virtual tools, enabling our diverse communities and representatives to collaborate and advance projects in a way that, prior to now, was not possible. Strong local communities can be easily connected with coordinated global missions; these activities include ever-more- sophisticated underwater initiatives as well as structural changes within the GUE ecosystem. One such forward-thinking project leverages AI-enabled, adaptive learning platforms to enhance both the quality and efficiency of GUE education. Most agencies, including GUE, have been using some form of online training for years, but GUE is taking big steps to reinvent the quality and efficiency of this form of training. This is not to replace, but rather to extend and augment inwater and in-person learning outcomes. Related tools further improve the fluidity, allowing GUE to seamlessly connect previously distant communities, enabling technology, training, and passion to notably expand our ability to realize our broad, global mission.

Photo courtesy of Kirill Egorov

Meanwhile, GUE and its range of global communities are utilizing evolving technologies to significantly expand the quality and scope of their project initiatives. Comparing the impressive capability of current GUE communities with those of our early years shows a radical and important shift, allowing results equal or even well beyond those possible when compared even with well-funded commercial projects. Coupled with GUE training and procedural support, these ongoing augmentations place our communities at the forefront of underwater research and conservation. This situation will only expand and be further enriched with the use of evolving technology and closely linked communities. Recent and planned expansions to our training programs present a host of important tools that will continue being refined in the years to come. Efforts to expand and improve upon the support provided to GUE projects with technology, people, and resources are now coming online and will undoubtedly be an important part of our evolving future.

The coming decades will undoubtedly present challenges. But I have no doubt that together we will not only overcome those obstacles but we will continue to thrive. I believe that GUE’s trajectory remains overwhelmingly positive, for we are an organization that is continually evolving—driven by a spirit of adventure, encouraged by your heartwarming stories, and inspired by the satisfaction of overcoming complex problems. Twenty-five years ago, when I took the path less traveled, the vision I had for GUE was admittedly ambitious. The reality, however, has exceeded anything I could have imagined. I know that GUE will never reach a point when it is complete but that it will be an exciting lifelong journey, one that, for me, will define a life well lived. I look forward our mutual ongoing “Quest for Excellence.”

See Listings Below For Additional Resources On GUE And GUE Diving!

Jarrod is an avid explorer, researcher, author, and instructor who teaches and dives in oceans and caves around the world. Trained as a geologist, Jarrod is the founder and president of GUE and CEO of Halcyon and Extreme Exposure while remaining active in conservation, exploration, and filming projects worldwide. His explorations regularly place him in the most remote locations in the world, including numerous world record cave dives with total immersions near 30 hours. Jarrod is also an author with dozens of publications, including three books.

A Few GUE Fundamentals

Similar to military, commercial and public safety divers, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) is a standards-based diving community, with specific protocols, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and tools. Here are selected InDEPTH stories on some of the key aspects of GUE diving, including a four-part series on the history and development of GUE decompression procedures by founder and president Jarod Jablonski.

Anatomy of a Fundamentals Class

GUE Instructor Examiner Guy Shockey explains the thought and details that goes into GUE’s most popular course, Fundamentals, aka “Fundies,” which has been taken by numerous industry luminaries. Why all the fanfare? Shockey characterizes the magic as “simple things done precisely!

Back to Fundamentals: An Introduction to GUE’s Most Popular Diving Course

Instructor evaluator Rich Walker attempts to answer the question, “why is Fundamentals GUE’s most popular diving course?” Along the way, he clarifies some of the myths and misconceptions about GUE training. Hint: there is no Kool-Aid. 

The GUE Pre-dive Sequence

As you’d expect, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) has a standardized approach to prepare your equipment for the dive, and its own pre-dive checklist: the GUE EDGE. Here explorer and filmmaker Dimitris Fifis preps you to take the plunge, GUE-style.

The Flexibility of Standard Operating Procedures

Instructor trainer Guy Shockey discusses the purpose, value, and yes, flexibility of standard operating procedures, or SOPs, in diving. Sound like an oxymoron? Shockey explains how SOPs can help offload some of our internal processing and situational awareness, so we can focus on the important part of the dive—having FUN!

Standard Gases: The Simplicity of Everyone Singing the Same Song

Like the military and commercial diving communities before them, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) uses standardized breathing mixtures for various depth ranges and for decompression. Here British wrecker and instructor evaluator Rich Walker gets lyrical and presents the reasoning behind standard mixes and their advantages, compared with a “best mix” approach. Don’t worry, you won’t need your hymnal, though Walker may have you singing some blues.

Rules of Thumb: The Mysteries of Ratio Deco Revealed

Is it a secret algorithm developed by the WKPP to get you out of the water faster sans DCI, or an unsubstantiated decompression speculation promoted by Kool-Aid swilling quacks and charlatans? British tech instructor/instructor evaluator Rich Walker divulges the arcane mysteries behind GUE’s ratio decompression protocols in this first of a two part series.

The Thought Process Behind GUE’s CCR Configuration

Global Underwater Explorers is known for taking its own holistic approach to gear configuration. Here GUE board member and Instructor Trainer Richard Lundgren explains the reasoning behind its unique closed-circuit rebreather configuration. It’s all about the gas!

GUE and the Future of Open Circuit Tech Diving

Though they were late to the party, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) is leaning forward on rebreathers, and members are following suit. So what’s to become of their open circuit-based TECH 2 course? InDepth’s Ashley Stewart has the deets.

Project Divers Are We

Diving projects, or expeditions—think Bill Stone’s Wakulla Springs 1987 project, or the original explorations of the Woodville Karst Plain’s Project (WKPP)—helped give birth to technical diving, and today continue as an important focal point and organizing principle for communities like Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). The organization this year unveiled a new Project Diver program, intended to elevate “community-led project dives to an entirely new level of sophistication.” Here, authors Guy Shockey and Francesco Cameli discuss the power of projects and take us behind the scenes of the new program

Decompression, Deep Stops and the Pursuit of Precision in a Complex World In this first of a four-part series, Global Underwater Explorers’ (GUE) founder and president Jarrod Jablonski explores the historical development of GUE decompression protocols, with a focus on technical diving and the evolving trends in decompression research.

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