Another week, another record broken. That’s a day in the life of the Guinness World Records.
There is a Guinness World Record for just about everything, from the most Big Macs consumed in a lifetime to the largest collection of rubber ducks. The organization that bills itself as the preeminent global authority on world records strives to “make the amazing official.” By drawing upon the entire range of superlatives available in the English language, Guinness World Records help people realize their potential—and win bragging rights for their accomplishments.
It seems that every year brings so many new record attempts in the fields of scuba diving, many of them successful, that we thought it would be useful to take stock of what the current records are and who holds them.
Here is a list of the most interesting current world records of interest to divers, recognized by the Guinness World Records organization.
#1 Longest Underwater Human Chain
The most recent scuba diving-related Guinness World Record was set on Saturday June 17th, 2017 in Florida. Pavan Arilton, of Dixie Divers in Deerfield Beach, organized an event that saw 240 scuba divers take the plunge and form the longest underwater human chain off the coast of Deerfield Beach.
The two-day event began with an underwater cleanup with divers removing fishing nets and other waste from the underwater columns of the City Pier, a popular spot for divers and local fishermen. The uninterrupted chain required all participating divers to hold hands or lock arms as they formed a large arch around the pier, beneath a series of 3-D buoys. The Florida divers easily surpassed the existing record of 182 divers off the coast of Thailand, which was set at the end of 2016.
#2 Deepest Saltwater Scuba Dive
The current record for the deepest scuba dive was set on September 18th, 2014 by Ahmad Gabr, a 41-year old Egyptian dive instructor, when he successfully completed a dive down to 332.35 meters/1,090 feet 4.5 inches.
This truly astonishing feat took Gabr four years of training to prepare for and countless hours spent with his elite dive team devising a dive plan that would help him deal with the risks associated with such a deep dive—nitrogen narcosis, decompression illness (DCI) and high pressure nervous syndrome (HPNS) among them. In the end, it only took 12 minutes for Gabr to reach his destination deep in the Red Sea off the coast of Dahab, Egypt. His ascent, due to the requirements of decompression, took 14 hours. In total Gabr went through 9 tanks, most of which were filled with tri-mix (a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and helium gases used for technical dives beyond 30 meters/98 feet), while his entire support team used up 92 tanks. In the words of Scuba Diving magazine, this historic achievement is “a testament to proper dive training and safety.”
#3 Longest Open Saltwater Scuba Dive
A Turkish diver named Cem Karabay broke his own record for the longest open saltwater scuba dive after spending nearly a week underwater at a beach on the island of Cyprus in July of 2016. Karabay was submerged, using open-circuit scuba gear, for 142 hours, 42 minutes, 42 seconds—equivalent to just under six full days. Karabay and his team devised novel methods for meeting his basic food and water needs during the dive, and dive buddies joined him to play games of football and checkers to help him pass the time.
Karabay is no stranger to long-haul dives, as he also holds the record for the longest scuba dive in an enclosed environment. To achieve that record, he spent 192 hours, 19 minutes, 19 seconds inside a pool at the Activity Plaza of Cadde Bostan in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2011.
Cristi Quill of Australia holds the equivalent longest open saltwater dive record by a woman. Quill, an Australian who lost her mother to breast cancer, conducted her record-breaking dive to raise money and awareness for the ‘Putting Cancer Under Pressure’ campaign. Quill stayed below 5 meters/15 feet using closed-circuit scuba equipment with no connection to the surface for an amazing 51 hours, 25 minutes off the shore of La Jolla beach, near San Diego, California.
#4 Highest Altitude Scuba Dive
The record for scuba diving at the highest altitude dive site is held by Ernő Tósoki, a Hungarian scuba diver and mountaineer, who dove at Ojos del Salado, an active volcano straddling the Argentina-Chile border. It is the tallest volcano on Earth. Tósoki dove into a permanent lake that sits on the eastern side of the volcano at 6,382 meters (20,938 feet) above sea level. He is the first person to successfully complete a dive above 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) in human history.
Although the dive itself lasted only ten minutes and at a normally laughable maximum depth of 2 meters/6 feet, achieving this record was exceptionally strenuous given the unforgiving conditions and unknown effects of diving at such a high altitude. Tósoki completed his goal with only one support team member, with whom he carried all of the diving, communication and medical equipment necessary for the expedition.
Here is a video, in Hungarian, about the dive.
#5 Most People Scuba Diving at Once
The Indonesian Navy organized an event at Malalayang beach in Manado, Indonesia in August of 2009 that brought together 2,486 divers to dive simultaneously and set a new Guinness World Record for the most people scuba diving at once. Divers were divided into 50 groups and had to wait in long lines before they could descend to the target depth of about 15 meters/49 feet. The participants more than doubled the previous record, set in the Maldives in 2006, when 958 divers took part in a massive group dive.
#6 Oldest Scuba Diver
The world record for oldest scuba diver was claimed by nonagenarian Erwin Paul Staller when he surfaced from a 36-minute dive off the islands of Turks and Caicos in October 2014. Staller, an ocean-loving pensioner from Long Island, New York was certified as a PADI Open Water diver in 1997 at the age of 68. He has since made regular trips to the Caribbean to dive on occasion.
Watch this TV news feature about Staller’s world record.
- Ryan Patrick Jones, Photos Credit Guinness World Records