Scuba Divers Injured by Seaquakes


Scuba Divers Face Danger!  1907 May 14: Bringing back a strange story of their experiences while seeking to raise sunken treasure from the Haitian gunboat Crete La Perriot, which was sunk in Gonaives Bay in1902, John L. McPherson and Simon Grant, master mariners and divers of the Larkin Diving and Wrecking Company of Jersey City, arrived yesterday on the Atlas liner Graecia. They left here for Haiti on April 11, and commenced work on the hull of the sunken gunboat on April 19, continuing operations until June 13. A remarkable part of their adventure was that they experienced an earthquake while working under water. On May 14, while near the hulk, there came a violent shock. Both men stood spellbound as the earth trembled under them. For a few seconds, the water rushed about the wreck like a whirlpool. Then things under the sea resumed their normal condition. Both divers, fearing disaster above, signaled frantically to be drawn up. Scuba Divers Survive Seaquakes (link) Chart this


2006 Jul 26: “A strange thing happened Thursday. I was leading a dive around 10 am when I heard some strange noises like explosions and vibrations. I looked all around, and saw no boats overhead or anything weird. When I got back on board the boat, I asked if the navy or Coast Guard had been doing anything around us. The Radio kicked on just then and said there had been an earthquake off Maui. Now I know what an earthquake sounds like underwater. Did anyone else have a similar experience?” (Aloha Turtle Guy9)


2006 Sep 10:  “I just had that same sort of thing happen to me today (10 Sept. 2006)  in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida. I thought it might be a passing boat with loud boom box onboard. After finishing my dives and going home I found out there was a 6.0 quake 250 miles off the coast. We were out only about 20 miles or so. A lot of booming like thunder followed shortly by shockwaves that could be felt.”  (Just Another Florida Diver – Brewone0to)  (5.8 earthquake report) Next


2006 Oct 21:  “We were diving yesterday (21 October 2006)  in Atami at the point Bitagane. Water temp was 22 degrees, air temp about the same, sunny in the morning turning into cloudy conditions in the afternoon.  In the middle of the dive we heard a loud noise, it seemed to be an explosion. My dive buddy and I looked toward the surface, waiting for a ship to come down on our heads or to see sticks of dynamite being tossed into the water (i.e. like in the Philippines)… We surmised that it was either an earthquake or perhaps some sort of explosion on Hatsushima Island, the possibility of an earthquake was much higher than an explosion.  Anyone else experience such a phenomena?” (Mar Scuba, Tokyo, Japan) Next


2006 Nov 24: DIVER’S ACCOUNT OF BEING UNDERWATER DURING EARTHQUAKE: Sure, you awoke to teeth-shaking vibrations. Sure, your house shivered and rolled when an earthquake hit the Big Island Oct. 15. It was a 20-second adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life. But imagine being a scuba diver, deep underwater, when that 6.7 quake rumbled, when its huge sound shook the water all around you. When another 6.0 quake hit a few minutes later.

It roared “like there was a steam locomotive above us,” says dive instructor Leo Trusclair. He was deeply involved – 85 feet deeply involved – on the far side of Molokini with four other divers at 7:07 that fateful morning. “We heard this sound, like giant pistons, louder and louder and louder. Vibrations hitting you from all around and they just keep getting louder and more intense and in the water, you don’t know where a sound is coming from. There is just this stunningly high volume and pressure. It felt like I had a plunger on each ear and someone was pulling and pushing out.” Trusclair, raised in the Seattle area, says he is accustomed to earthquakes. He has survived shakers on a beach, in a parking lot, in the bedroom and on top of a 20-story building. “But nothing like this,” he says.

Another scuba instructor, Todd Winn, was 75 feet down with two novice scuba divers. Both Winn and Trusclair work with B&B Scuba in Kihei. Winn first thought a cruise ship was overhead and something was wrong with the engine. Winn signaled his students to stay put. They clung to each other, he says. He looked up and there was no ship, even as the sound grew louder vibrations began to shake his body. “There was a shaking in my chest like someone pounding on it,” he remembers.

Winn noted a fine layer of silt kicking up from the sides of Molokini. Schools of fish that had been hovering overhead dove for the reefs and down into the coral. The sound increased until my ears were oscillating back and forth, flexing. Sound travels four times faster in water than on air it carries a long way. As the roar subsided, Winn and his two students began making their way up the water column. Then the San Francisco native realized a tsunami might occur. He also realized being on a boat was a lot safer than being on shore. Being on a boat, he says, is absolutely the best place to be, exactly where I want to be in a tsunami. On land, the quake shakes buildings. Underwater, it shakes divers and fish. A third diver, William Makozak of Pro Diver, based in Kihei/Wailea, says the underwater quake was very physical, you felt it throughout your whole body.”


2009-???-??: I was in a 5.3 in North Sulawesi a couple of years ago. I was doing a solo dive in shallow water and saw a cluster of tube sponges swaying quite violently even though there was no discernible current. I peeked around behind it to see if there was some big fish bumping up against it, but there was nothing. Then the sound came. It was as if a huge tanker ship was right overhead. I even looked up since I was in about 3-5 meters of water and thought it was weird for such a large boat to be in shallow water like that. Of course, there was nothing. I finally realized it was an earthquake, so I hurried out of the water, ran to my room and logged on to the internet to see that the earthquake had happened about 125 km from where I was diving. (link)


2011-Jan-20: (20 miles from a magnitude 3 quake) On Wednesday night, 12 January 2011, I went on a night dive at San Carlos Beach in Monterey, Ca. It was a beautiful clear night. Conditions were perfectly calm with 15 feet visibility. While diving, we felt and heard a rumble. It came quickly and left suddenly. I thought it was a boat but there were no boats around. I did not think much of it.

On shore, I talked to other divers and they thought it was an earthquake. I never experienced an earthquake while scuba diving so I had no idea. We talked about the sudden start of the rumbling and how suddenly it quit, unlike a boat that gradually increases and decreases in sound. One diver said the seafloor kicked up sand at the time of the rumbling.

One diver had an iPhone earthquake application and looked to see if there was an earthquake during our dive. There was a 3 magnitude quake at about 7:30pm, which was during our dive. It was about 20 miles from Monterey. There was a definite rumble under the water. I don’t know if it was the earthquake aftershock but it was peculiar. (link)


2014-Oct-20: Last October, I was on a diving holiday in the Philippines with a friend. It was a sunny morning, and after breakfast, we boarded the boat with seven other advanced divers. This was my 40th dive, so I knew the drill. I put on the gear and dived off the boat, slowly sinking to about 20m. I saw luminous corals, languorous turtles silhouetted in the deep blue of the ocean and hundreds of tropical fish.

After nearly 45 minutes, the sound of my breathing was drowned out by a low rumble of an engine, and I felt deep, powerful vibrations as if a big boat with a propeller was passing overhead. I looked up but couldn’t see anything. The dive instructor’s eyes were wide with confusion: he didn’t know what was going on either, even though he’d done thousands of dives. We swam next to each other, staying close to the side of the reef. I couldn’t see my friend and the other divers. The situation felt sinister and dangerous.

Then we were enveloped by clouds of white sand that mushroomed up around us, and I thought, could it be an underwater bomb? A giant turtle raced past us and into the deep; they are normally slow movers, so this was very weird behavior. The vibration became so intense, I could feel it in my bones, and the sound turned into a deafening roar. I could see waterfalls of sand pouring over the coral, and on the sea floor, a few meters below us, cracks began forming and the sand was sucked down. That’s when I realized it was an earthquake. The noise was the sound of the Earth splintering open and grinding against itself. Scuba Divers Survive Seaquakes. (link)

by Capt. David Williams

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