A dangerous dive site

October 16. 2013.
A few days ago a technical diver disappeared in the Austrian Attersee lake.

A 43 years old Polish man disappeared in the depth of Attersee on 12th October. He went into the water with his buddy at the notorious Schwarzen Brücke (Black Bridge) site where many other divers lost their lives. The diver descended to nearly 100 metres depth while his buddy continued to 110 metres. They started ascending together, but only one diver surfaced. The local authorities started the search immediately but they haven't found the body yet altough they used sonar and ROV.

The Attersee is the largest lake in Salzkammergut area. Its maximum depth is 171 metres, so many technical divers visit it from Austria and the neighboring countries as well. The water is clear but cold, especially in the depth, so only experienced divers should descend below 30-40 meters. But sometimes even them have problems which can prove fatal.

Some of the accidents are myterious. Earlier this year another Polish diver died in the Attersee, and when they examined his equipment they found all of his tank valves were closed. The investigators asked his buddies but later they ruled out foul play. In that depth any mistake can be fatal. If a technical diver switch to the wrong gas mixture nobody would be able to help. Many of them dive alone, so any health related issues can result the loss of consciousness. The rapid ascent is not a solution when somebody has any kind of problem 60-80 metres below the surface. Maybe the Polish diver has an equipment related accident, some people think he closed his own valve when the regulator was frozen in the cold water.

In 2012 there were 3 deadly accidents near the Schwarzen Brücke, in the last decade more than 20 divers died here. But the site attracts still many divers who are interested in the challenging wall. It's hard to say the underwater scenery is beautiful, and there are only a few fish under water to see. There are lakes in Austria which offer much more to see for the recreational diver: the incredibly clear, shallow Grüner See or the nearby Erlaufsee with its lively fauna. During a dive in the Attersee you can see mostly rocks in the dark green and really cold water, but it seems it can be exciting for many divers.

In the Attersee anybody can dive on his own at the designated areas. This freedom allow them to explore the shallow or the deep parts of the lake, but they have to care about their safety as well. Altough local authorities try to inform the divers about the dangers of the Schwarzen Brücke they don't ban diving here. The basic rule is the same as anywhere else: every diver should accept the responsibility for their own safety on every dive. But the extreme conditions in the deep and cold Austrian lakes require more preparations and precautions. Sadly even those don't guarantee there won't be serious accidents in the future.

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