RSS Feed

History Tutorial #106; Undersea diving

Posted on

One of the most outstanding examples of human folly and stupidity is that which sees them deliberately leaping headfirst, or by a variety of other counter-intuitive entry methods, back into the ocean seemingly trying to return to the distant womb of their evolution.

It is quite obvious to the casual contented landlubber that people who have more completely evolved from primitive life forms find no requirement to ever again stick their heads back under water into a diluted sludge of brine, fish excrement, ship bilgewater, human sewage and industrial waste.

Had we been intended to do this, God in Her wisdom would have provided us with gills or blow holes with which to breathe, and an osmotic filth-extraction organ to return our cellular structure to a condition of homeostasis afterwards.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

The majority of inventions and innovations are a result of at least one of the following five drivers.

1. Hunger
2. Greed
3. War
4. Sloth
5. Insanity

Peruvian Indians started all this returning-to-the-sea nonsense 4000 years ago by diving for mussels on the ocean floor.
The original shellfish discovery was accidentally made by a village lunatic named Enrico Flotsam.

Enrico had a series of vivid dreams repeated nightly for more than a month, about a tribe of lonely young women who were in deep distress and showing telltale signs of anticipatory horniness whilst  awaiting his arrival on an island called Oahu, somewhere out there in the deep blue sea. Dressed in nothing more than grass hula-skirts, an entire bevy of them were gathering at Koko Head every morning at sunrise, looking towards the Southeast and chanting in unison;
“Enrico, Enrico, wherefore art Thou Enrico, adorable Son of Flotsam”.

The repetitious scenario was driving him even more insane, so he hotfooted it down to Global Llama Hire (South America Inc) and inquired if they had an amphibious model available for immediate rental, whereupon the receptionist professionally replied “No Sir, we don’t have any left today” before suggesting that maybe he should resume taking his prescribed medication.

Not to be deterred, he immediately strutted down the beach at Chimbote, fully equipped with desperation, unmedicated confidence, navigational and pre-Archimedial ignorance, intending to jog his way along the sea bed until he got all the way to Hawaii.

Sadly, after trekking just a few metres underwater, his toes lost traction, and buoyancy popped him back up to the ocean surface like a rubber duckie in a bathtub, but not before he’d accidentally grabbed a handful of mussels on the way up.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

Diving in the Aegean Sea developed simultaneously but independently of the South American experience.
Because of the underwater limitations of the human lung, “water bladders” were fashioned from goat and pig skins to hold an air supply.  The skins were sewn-up and waterproofed with oil, leaving a single breathing hole into which the diver’s snout could be inserted for a breath of putrescent but nevertheless life-saving air.

Eventually dives of even greater duration were made possible by using bladders made from elephant hides, and significantly greater depths were achievable after Pepe the Adventurer came back from Africa in 1985BC with a single souvenir giraffe skin.

Scuba device

The name for this self-contained underwater breathing apparatus is an acronym derived from Simple Contraption for Unexpected Breathless Asphyxiation.

Aqualung technology uses portable bottles of compressed air strapped to the diver’s back.

It enables human lemmings to die not only from shark attack and drowning, but also from the bends and narcosis, the latter being the peculiar tendency of divers at depth to become intoxicated with their own stupidity and oxygen imbalance, before succumbing to an irresistible urge to remove their mouthpieces in order to give passing fish some of their air to breathe.

The original Homo sapiens blueprint specified that optimal performance could be achieved under standard conditions of air pressure, which, at sea level is 15 lbs per square inch.
Pressure at 1000 feet of ocean depth is 500 lbs per square inch, and at the deepest part of the ocean 7 tons per square inch, which is like really really heavy shit, man, and if you mess wif it you gonna DIE!

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

Jacques Yves-Cousteau

The Bucket acknowledges that no studious historical dissertation such as this about undersea diving would be complete without genuinely paying tribute to the French explorer and SCUBA inventor Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
His extraordinary heroism, vision, and contribution to human knowledge during his lifetime must surely rank him amongst the greatest scientists and adventurers of the 20th century.

Cousteau operated from his floating laboratory boat Calypso, as well as constructing underwater Conshelf Stations in both France and the Red Sea which enabled humans to live for extended periods on the ocean floor studying the marine environment, thus enabling mankind to shine a light for the very first time on the wonders of the deep.

Conshelf Station 2, Red Sea


About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

20 responses »

  1. “Studious” is right!

    I represent your #5.

  2. As a certified diver, I should take offense, but somehow I can’t quite muster it. I do remember vividly the moment I first submerged my head fully underwater, and then inhaled. Every fiber of one’s being tells us NOT to do this, but we are silly creatures, full of folly, and we trust in technology. And I’m here in an undrowned state to tell you that it is FUN.

    Now, I made a point of never going below 33 feet (one atmosphere) for the following reasons:
    1. All the best light and most beautiful and interesting things are in shallow water anyway.
    2. It removed the necessity of filling out damn complicated log books ensuring I didn’t get the bends.
    3. I could enjoy adult beverages on the boat ride back to harbor without worrying about getting the bends.

    • Thank you for not taking offense at this little pile of historical rubbish kimmy…..I hope that most readers understand that I never deliberately set out to offend anyone. Actually I quite admire the courage and spirit of adventure that divers need to spend time underwater. It is something that I have never had the urge to try. It is remotely possible that I could muster enough courage to snorkel on the Barrier Reef, but then again I’d probably settle for a glass-bottomed boat ride instead.

      I like the sensible restrictions you placed on your diving.

      Recently I read some personal accounts of the terrible work conditions which applied for Japanese and Pacific Island divers in the North Australian pearl industry last century, when they used those old-fashioned fully-enclosed divers helmets/suits. So many of them died from the bends.

  3. You neglected one fact… Signor Flotsam eventally did make it to Oahu. But only after convincing his cousin, Pedro Jetsom, that said lonely ladies would be quite impressed with the feat, despite his similarity to his pet Llama (who, strangely enough Pedro preferred to call Mama. Unfortunately poor Pedro perished several metres into his submersion when the mussels he grabbed onto refused to break free. However, his skin provided young Flotsam with a wonderful airbed on which to float all the way to Hawaii. Unbeknowst to him though, the locals regarded reclining on an airbed as extreme laziness, and definately not to be tolersted. The chief therefore smacked him over the head with a coconut monkey that he and his wife had received as a wedding present from his mother-in-law. Soon after rigor mortis set in, the chief carved young Enrique into the world’s first ever surfboard. It seems we have more than mussels to thank the poor hapless lad for. ;0)

    As always GOF, your history lessons are fascinating. I’ve been delving into the local Cooktown history lately… with the aid of many and varied tomes, such as Tourist Informtion pamphlets and tourist trail information tiles and signs. As fascinating as they all are, I fear I’m not getting the full story about Captain Cook and his landing. If I may be so bold as to make a request, I would love to know what YOUR history books say about the real happenings of this area. There must be more to this area than we were taught in school.

    • Thank you for bringing to my attention the deficiency Tina.

      “You neglected one fact…” Just ONE??? I feel honored to receive such a favorable review from my peer.

      Given that these History Tutorials are widely used as reference documents in several Colleges of Advanced Education, I appreciate that you have kept the quality of your supplementary knowledge at an acceptably high academic level. If I could be so bold, I would however suggest that it would have been interesting to know the exact process whereby the “Pedro skin” was fabricated into an airbed, and through which orifice it was inflated.

      By coincidence, Captain Cook gets a passing mention in an upcoming Tutorial.

      (Thank you for reading all this bloody rubbish Tina…..perhaps it is in no-ones interest for you to encourage me to continue…..but I appreciate it anyway.) 🙂

  4. I feel much the same way about camping. If God intended us to rough it outside, He wouldn’t have invented the Motel 6. :mrgreen:

  5. Completely hillarious – I must thank you for the much needed laugh. Horniness as a factor in sea exploration – who knew? And by the way, “unmedicated confidence” is the best term ever.

    As usual your posts create serious philisophical questions – for one, is simultaneous sloth AND insanity possible?

    Love the nod to Jaques. It was his son Jean who also managed the impossible – to talk Bush into creating a huge marine sanctuary. I’d like that guy on my team – every day.

    • I do often think of George Bush with admiration when I think of that huge sanctuary north of Hawaii. That was one very good thing he did.

    • Thank you Emmy….I’m glad this is turning out to be a journey of discovery for both of us.

      “is simultaneous sloth AND insanity possible?”

      Indeed it is….just drop by here any afternoon around 6 and see the old man lazing on his recliner, nodding insanely out the window at all the parrots with a faraway look in his eyes. OK? Good. Now that’s one less philosophical conundrum we have to ponder. 🙂

      And thanks to both you and Lauri for bringing to my attention the marine sanctuary.

    • Unmedicated confidence gets my vote too Emmy.

      Some of GOF’s terms crack me right up.

      I’m getting a few odd looks in Maccas as I enjoy catching up on what I have been missing.

  6. Hahahaha.

    I chortled and giggled through the whole “lesson” and then burst out laughing so loud at your questioning which orifice of Pedro’s was used to inflate his skin that I scared my dogs.
    Happily no other humans are home at the moment or I may be hauled away by the men in white coats.
    That is, if they are not already busy knocking on your door!
    Another fine job, GOF!

    • Thank you Lauri. For both our sakes I hope we can get an answer to the “orifice” uncertainty……it makes living each day very difficult not knowing the answer. 🙂

      The men in white coats gave up on me a long time ago…..they said as long as I didn’t try to venture outside the rainforest into normal society they would leave me alone.

  7. I once signed up for a scuba course …. it seemed a good idea at the time though I can barely swim! Needless to say I never actually got into the ocean! I’m definitely slothful with a touch of insanity. (and I think I’m the only Aussie who can’t swim).

    • You’re not the only one…. there’s two of us Emjay……some wit during the course of history said the definition of “swimming” was “staying alive in water”.
      That’s pretty much where I stand……or swim……..or sink.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: