David Shaw (diver)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

David John Shaw (1954 – 8 January 2005) was an Australian scuba diver, a technical diver and an airline pilot for Cathay Pacific, who flew the A330-300, A340-300 and A340-600.[1] He is one of only eleven people who have dived below a depth of 240 metres (800 ft) on self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.[2]

Dive equipment[edit]

Shaw's first rebreather was an Inspiration closed circuit rebreather, which he eventually dived to depths greater than those of which the unit was supposedly capable. That prompted him to purchase a Mk15.5. He modified this unit by removing the analogue electronics and replacing them with the Juergensen Marine Hammerhead digital electronics in a specially modified POD designed to handle extreme pressures. The Mk15.5 was his rebreather of choice for dives deeper than 150 metres (500 ft). Shaw also owned a Cis-Lunar Mk5P that he used on extended dives in caves that are shallower than 150 m. He believed that the Cis-Lunar had greater redundancy capabilities for such dives, but could not cope with extreme depths.

Diving records[edit]

On 28 October 2004 Shaw broke the following records at Bushman's Hole, South Africa:

  • Depth on a rebreather
  • Depth in a cave on a rebreather
  • Depth at altitude on a rebreather
  • Depth running a line

He used a Mk15.5 with Juergensen Marine Hammerhead electronics and the following gas mixtures: trimix 4/80, 10/70, 15/55, 17/40, 26/25, air, nitrox50, 100% oxygen. The cave elevation was 1,550 metres (5,090 ft) and the dive duration was 9 hours 40 minutes.[3]

Last dive[edit]

David Shaw died on 8 January 2005 while seeking to recover the body of Deon Dreyer, a South African diver who had died 10 years previously, and whose body Shaw had discovered at a depth of 270 metres (890 ft) in fresh water in Bushman's Hole, South Africa in October 2004.[2][4]

Shaw recorded his dive with an underwater camera and this recording relayed valuable information that allowed researchers to determine that he suffered from an effort-independent expiratory flow which resulted in an inability to match ventilation to the demands of physical work at that great depth.[5][6] Shaw ran into difficulties when he cut loose Dreyer's harness and the body unexpectedly began to float (Shaw had been advised by various experts that the body would remain negatively buoyant because the visible parts were reduced to the skeleton - however, within his wetsuit, Dreyer's corpse had turned into a soap-like substance called adipocere, which floats). Shaw had been working with both hands, and so had been resting his can light on the cave floor. The powerful underwater lights that cave divers use are connected by wires to heavy battery canisters, normally worn on the cave diver's waist, or sometimes attached to their tanks. Normally he would have wrapped the wire behind his neck, but was unable to do so. The lines from the body bag appear to have become entangled with the light head, and the physical effort of trying to free himself led to his death. The next day, both of the bodies floated up to near the surface as the dive team was retrieving their equipment.

The dive on which David Shaw died was the 333rd of his career. At the time of his world record setting dive, he had been diving for just over five years.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Shaw was a devout Christian. He and his wife, Ann, lived in Hong Kong, where they were members of a small Christian congregation.[8] They have two children, Steven and Lisa.[9]


  1. ^ Deep Cave Diving with Dave Shaw
  2. ^ a b Zimmermann, Tim (1 August 2005). "Raising the Dead". Outside Magazine. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  3. ^ Scuba Diving World Records - Deepest Longest - Dave Shaw - Nuno Gomes - Verna Van Schaik - Pascal Bernabé - Mark Elyatt - Johan Beukes
  4. ^ Shaw, D. "Deepcave.com". Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  5. ^ Mitchell SJ, Cronjé FJ, Meintjes WA, Britz HC (February 2007). "Fatal respiratory failure during a "technical" rebreather dive at extreme pressure". Aviat Space Environ Med 78 (2): 81–6. PMID 17310877. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  6. ^ David Shaw. "The Last Dive of David Shaw". Retrieved 2011-05-10. 
  7. ^ Finch, Phillip (2008). Diving into Darkness: A True Story of Death and Survival. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 295. ISBN 0-312-38394-0. LCCN 2008024271. 
  8. ^ Diving into Darkness, pp. 2, 25.
  9. ^ Diving into Darkness, pp. 29-30.