View Full Version : How to overcome a fear of deep water?

Mermaid Muir
10-29-2013, 05:51 PM
I don't know if this is the right section for this but I would really like to start working on my scuba diving license but I have this fear of deep water. I get kinda freaked out if I can't see the bottom. I was wondering if any of you had any tips to help get over this fear>

10-29-2013, 07:46 PM
I find it helps to have company.
You won't be alone doing diving anyway, so yea that helps :)

It's also helpful to find out what exactly you fear.
Is it sharks/large predatory fish?
In that case you could try starting in lakes, and only once you're comforatble with the gear and all, proceed to ocean diving.

Mermaid Muir
10-30-2013, 09:33 PM
Thanks! My fear really lies in predatory fish (like sharks). I hadn't even considered lakes but that makes a lot of sense! Thanks a lot!

10-31-2013, 04:00 PM
Glad it was helpful :)
You would need to find a dive course which is held in a lake, of course.
Depends on where you live, but it's definitely less scary to dive in the open ocean later on if you already are familiar with diving itself.

10-31-2013, 08:32 PM
Also note that you don't have to dive super deep. There are cool things to see at just twenty feet. Also, scuba is nothing like swimming. You go down legs first, remaining upright, and there's no alert going off in your brain that you need air. Once you are under you can hardly tell how deep you are--until your dive computer starts beeping and you realize you've descended a few feet further than you meant to go without even noticing! I would give it a try--unless you live on the ocean, most dive courses are done in lakes, and they ALL start you off in a swimming pool before you move to open water. If your fear is sea creatures, you are actually better off scuba diving than swimming along the shore, as you are MUCH likelier to be attacked swimming or paddling near the shore than deep below the surface. Overall, don't go into it thinking of it as "going into deep water." Recreational divers don't go very deep anyway, and you will start shallow, in a pool. Once you've moved from pool to lake or ocean, you will be surprised how little you notice your depth--it's hard to judge distances under water, and the surface often looks much closer than it is! SCUBA is a totally different experience than any other kind of water sport I have partaken in, so give it a shot in the pool and I bet you will be surprised how comfortable you are under the water!

(Can you tell I've drunk the SCUBA Kool Aid? And I've never even had the chance to dive in blue water! Man I love it under the water!)

Mermaid Melanie
11-18-2013, 11:33 PM
If its sharks you fear i wouldnt worry so much - believe it or not they are scared of you ! i dive with them all the time and they dont wanna be right next to us bubbling divers. they have never attacked a scuba diver in my area either - deep water doesnt always mean sharks - a lot of the time sharks are in shallow on the reefs cruising around looking for reef fish to eat but like Seavanna said with any scuba course you start off with theory in the classroom and then go to the pool ... also once you understand the theory it isnt as scary as it seems - the ocean is such a beautiful place you should defo check it out ! x

11-19-2013, 03:04 AM
Logically speaking you have nothing to worry about. Only around 70 people are attacked by sharks per year, in the entire world. You're more likely to be killed by a dog or a car or lightning. The idea that you need to worry about sharks is a popular myth created by the movie Jaws and reinforced every year by Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. I know that phobias are inherently illogical and statistics don't really help, but I wanted to get that out of the way first.

As for how to deal with it, its it possible that you could slowly confront your fear with trips to an aquarium? You could also talk to divers to learn more about marine life.

If you try some of the suggestions made in this thread without any success you could talk to a mental heathcare professional to see help for your phobia.

BTW, I went swimming with leopard sharks a couple weeks ago, and it was amazing. They're such beautiful creatures, and pose no threat to humans. Here's a picture Greg took:

11-19-2013, 07:14 AM
Logically speaking you have nothing to worry about. Only around 70 people are attacked by sharks per year, in the entire world. You're more likely to be killed by a dog or a car or lightning.

The problem with this kind of statistics is that they paint an inaccurate picture.
Sure, sheer number-wise it's correct.
However, you need to realize that there are a whole lot more cars and dogs around the average human than sharks :p
Of course it's likelier to get killed by a car, everybody has one, you pass by maybe hundred cars every day.
I encounter around 5 (larger) dogs per day.

Now, how often is the average person in a location of a possible shark attack? ...

The statistic would be more meaningful if there were the same number of sharks around everyone as cars and dogs.

Mermaid Melanie
11-21-2013, 04:26 AM
But there are also places where people are around sharks more than cars - on phi phi island there are NO cars but plenty blacktop reef sharks that divers swim with everyday and there's never been an attack here ... Except in the movie the beach lol honestly more people die every year from coconuts falling and hitting peoples heads than shark attacks

11-21-2013, 06:26 AM
And Hippos...more people get killed by hippos than sharks, so the likely hood is very low.

Sorry had to put my little fact in >_<

Mermaid Muir
03-25-2014, 11:09 PM
Thank you everybody! I still need to get over the fear but I really appreciate the help!

Capt Nemo
03-27-2014, 11:17 PM
Don't watch Jaws II!!!

03-28-2014, 12:11 AM
Man I love it under the water!

Said like a true mermaid, Seavanna! :mermaid kiss:

It's the same for me. I was born near the water, I've always lived near the water, my signs are all water signs, and I looove it under the water.

03-28-2014, 12:18 AM
And Hippos...more people get killed by hippos than sharks, so the likely hood is very low.

Sorry had to put my little fact in >_<

LOL- great facts ilyena. Well, nobody's ever been killed by a hippo in Canada :thumbs-up:. In fact sharks live in Canadian waters, and nobody has ever been killed by a shark in Canadian waters either!

Maybe Canadian animals are just friendlier :hug:

Do stay away from the grizzly bears though . . . and the polar bears.

03-28-2014, 06:55 AM
^^maybe there's just less people in the Canadian waters than in, say, Australian ones? (wouldn't blame them either lol)

Don't watch Jaws II!!!

Jaws 2,3 etc were lame.

03-28-2014, 11:00 AM
There is really nothing all that dangerous where people typically swim in Canada but the water gets super cold. Even in summer there are icebergs not too far off my coast. Cold and dark. I could never learn to freedive in Canada.

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03-28-2014, 11:01 AM
There's actually nothing poisonous in Canada animal wise lol

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03-28-2014, 08:32 PM
Well, believe it or not, there actually are 3 kinds of poisonous snakes in Canada: the North Pacific Rattlesnake, who lives in the dry central part of British Columbia; the Prairie Rattlesnake who lives in Alberta & Saskatchewan; and the Massassauga Rattlesnake who used to live all over southern Ontario, but seems to be restricted to the Muskoka and North Bay areas now. I think people killed all the ones in the south, although one was spotted a few years ago living on Quinte's Island in Lake Ontario, and nobody killed it, which is what tends to happen further north.

I've seen the North Pacific rattlesnake, and are they ever vicious! The little guys were hissing at me and trying to strike. Fortunately they were really small, I don't think I'd like to meet a full grown one.

I'm not aware of any poisonous animals in Atlantic Canada, though. I guess you live in a more benign place.

Aquos Savar
01-26-2015, 08:04 PM
Im a professional diver (Yes, im 15 years old, but i have a scuba certificate) and deep waters aren't that scary at all. None of the fish can hurt you unless you hurt them, so take that in consideration. Also, poisonous fish only react to quick movements, so if you keep your calm, i bet everything will be A-ok. Sharks? They are actually scared of people, so getting hurt by a shark is really hard.

Mermaid Alea
01-26-2015, 10:50 PM
This thread makes me feel better. :) I sometimes get afraid of swimming in dark water. I agree thought that swimming with others makes me feel much less afraid. The more people, the less afraid I feel.

Siren Lily
01-29-2015, 10:17 PM
I was looking for a thread like this, earlier! Swimming in the ocean is one of my bigger fears. It's more a fear of what I can't see (at the beach), and a fear of very large aquatic animals that can move in any direction (elephants, for example, I'm not scared of) in an abyss of darkness... yikes. I know there's no real reason to be afraid of anything if you behave yourself. I think it's just an instinctual thing. Big fish/predatory fish, sharks, whales... they all do it for me.

That doesn't make me any less enthused to explore, though!

Mermaid Muir
01-30-2015, 12:01 AM
I was looking for a thread like this, earlier! Swimming in the ocean is one of my bigger fears. It's more a fear of what I can't see (at the beach), and a fear of very large aquatic animals that can move in any direction (elephants, for example, I'm not scared of) in an abyss of darkness... yikes. I know there's no real reason to be afraid of anything if you behave yourself. I think it's just an instinctual thing. Big fish/predatory fish, sharks, whales... they all do it for me.

That doesn't make me any less enthused to explore, though!

It was that fear (to a t) that made me create this thread. I figured I couldn't be the only one right! Plus there is so much I want to see below the surface!

Siren Lily
01-30-2015, 12:14 AM
Absolutely! Me too! Just because I'm intimidated by sharks and whales does not mean that I don't one day want to swim with them! It's something that'll fade with time and experience, I hope. :)

Mermaid Muir
02-16-2015, 01:05 AM
Absolutely! Me too! Just because I'm intimidated by sharks and whales does not mean that I don't one day want to swim with them! It's something that'll fade with time and experience, I hope. :)

Exactly! I hope that it will for both of our sakes!

03-24-2015, 10:51 PM
I think it's totally natural to be afraid of things we can't see! For that reason, I'd maybe suggest getting a good-fitting snorkel/scuba mask and popping your head under water to start so that you can see what's down there. Personally it's gotten way less scary (I used to jump a foot when little minnows would brush against my leg in the lake when I was a kid!) and now I feel like the lake/ocean is just amazing because I can see everything that's going on!

Mermaid Harmony
03-30-2015, 08:06 PM
I used to be terrified of the water, then I found out about mermaids and I thought well, I can either get over it and be a mermaid, or let my fear control me and not be a mermaid. I'm still scared sometimes and did my first open water in the middle of the ocean shoot a few weeks ago and have another tomorrow, and I just trust that I'm not supposed to die yet, and if I am then it was gonna happen whether I was in the water or not. :-) Also Coradion always gives me a lecture about animals eating things way smaller than them and won't be interested in me, apparently we're gonna go shark swimming soon, I'm nervous but we'll sort it out!

04-08-2015, 04:14 PM
Shark swims will be awesome!

04-08-2015, 04:16 PM
I don't think deep water is that scary, but I've grown up with it. I think a big thing with it is if you feel like you belong in it you'll be okay. Also with a tail on there are very few things that would bother you, you're bigger than most sea creatures, you're foreign to them which is scary, and really the odds of you running into anything big much less it being interested in you are really swim.

Mermaid Jaffa
04-09-2015, 07:41 AM
My biggest worry would be, do sharks see in color? And are we a big tasty snack?

04-09-2015, 08:02 AM
Yes, but their color range is different. Most sharks eat prey items that will fit entirely in their mouths. Many sharks prefer foods with higher fat content, remember with a tail on we're all like six feet long at the minimum. Not only that but we're something strange and our behavior and look does not resemble something that they know to be food. If you happened to come across a large shark in the water, something over like six feet or something chances are it wouldn't bother you. I have a lot of friends that have been out in 30 feet of water near shore in Hawai'i and run into large tiger sharks over 10 ft. None of them were bothered by the animals.

04-09-2015, 10:00 AM
I'm curious Coradion, what do you mean with behavior??

04-09-2015, 10:04 AM
On another note, I recently discovered that I'm much more comfortable swimming in the ocean with tail than without it.
I guess it's knowing that I'm bigger than anything I might run onto in that particular area, as well as the fact that my legs are covered and not touching the floor so that if something rubs on me while swimming by it won't freak me out as much.
One of my biggest fears (even though it's silly) is stepping on something in the sand.
It could be absolutely harmless, even seaweed, and it will freak me out.

04-22-2015, 04:13 PM
Nyx, by "behaviors" Coriadon means the way a shark's natural prey acts as opposed to the way we, as divers, act. The reason that surfers tend to get bitten by sharks more than divers is because the way they paddle with their big, fat boards makes them resemble a seal. Also, they surf at dawn and dusk in relatively shallow waters (when and where sharks hunt). Note that almost no surfers are actually killed by the sharks--they take an arm or a leg and then go "OH, WOW, THAT IS TOTALLY NOT SEAL YUCKYUCKYUCK BYE NOW!" They were expecting seal blubber and instead got bone and little flesh.

SCUBA divers and freedivers, on the other hand, rarely dive at dawn or dusk (it's usually either a full out day dive or a full out night dive) and they don't hang around in the shallow waters where the sharks hunt for food. Without a surf board to give them the appearance of being a big, fat, blubbery thing sitting on the surface, we simply don't look like food. We're too big for a "quick bite" like a fish and too skinny for a "big kill" like a seal. We move in motions unnatural to underwater creatures, and we usually are packing a ton of weird metal equipment all over us (in SCUBA, at least). People either dive off boats directly into deep water or move very quickly from the shore into deep water, which is NOT where sharks are looking for food. Sharks' ability to hunt is based off of millions of years of evolution, and we do not fit the "prey guidelines" they have developed. While diving sharks tend to swim right by. The exception to this is when divers are spearfishing. They are then surrounded by a cloud of blood which confuses the shark's already not great sight and hypes his senses up for the kill. So sometimes spearfishermen get bit. But even that is fairly uncommon, as you'd have to make a lot of big kills to fill the area with enough blood to confuse a shark. I HAVE seen a shark swim up and take a diver's prize right off the end of their spear, though. Note that it had NO interest in us--it just wanted the dead, bleeding fish. It then swam away.

Overall, the whole Jaws things really blew shark attacks out of proportion. You're not afraid of sperm whales because of Moby Dick, right? Then you shouldn't worry much about sharks either. The likelihood of being bitten by a shark is low to medium as a surfer who likes to hit the waves at dawn and dusk in areas known to be inhabited by sharks, but as a diver it's VERY VERY VERY unlikely a shark will do anything but swim past you. You are not a part of its world, so it isn't going to risk its own safety by attacking an unknown basically equal to it in length unless it feels VERY threatened.

Mermaid Wesley
04-22-2015, 04:19 PM
*applause* very much yes.

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04-22-2015, 04:22 PM
@Seavanna thank you for the explanation!

04-22-2015, 04:37 PM
Honestly, I get more freaked out when I bump into a wad of sea/lake weed than anything else.

04-22-2015, 04:44 PM
LOL, my biggest freak out when I first started diving was when I was swimming near the bottom and I knocked up all the sand, sending myself tumbling butt first into the reef! I actually ended up using my mermaid skills on my few first ocean dives because I knew EXACTLY how I could move when doing the dolphin kick and turning, hovering, or even backing up with my feet together... But swimming with scissor legs I was a MESS!!! I would do what I THOUGHT would get me AWAY from the coral, and practically run face first into it. So I just started "mermaiding" with my tank on in "tight" areas and suddenly I could navigate the reef as well as my divemaster! All of that practice doing tricks in the pool paid off. I now prefer scissor kick for its low impact and easy sailing, but when I am squeezing into small places, getting VERY close to a coral wall, going in a cave, or hovering near the bottom I still use my mermaid swimming/dolphin kick! Also when I want to swim along with sea turtles!

04-22-2015, 04:53 PM
:lol ^:

I haven't drunk the SCUBA KoolAid yet, but I'm sniffing the glass!

04-22-2015, 05:09 PM

SCUBAddiction. It's very real. I just keep buying more wetsuits...

04-23-2015, 01:28 AM
sharks have bad eyesight

Mermaid Menanna
04-23-2015, 02:58 AM
I am not SCUBA certified (maybe some day if I'm lucky) but I am familiar with the animals. I think the advice here has been great and I'd like to add 1 more suggestion to it all. Get to know the animals that you fear... before you may encounter them in a wild habitat. Knowing and understanding the animal takes the fear right away. As a kid I was fascinated by but feared sharks. Mind you, I don't and have never lived near enough to the ocean to encounter them in the wild... but have always wanted to. The movies didn't help with that unfounded fear, but once I started working WITH the animals I learned an intense passion and love for them that is unlike anything else I have ever known.
My first hands on encounter with any shark was a small, 3 ft Bali cat shark in a large aquarium. As I studied the species on an academic level I was then able to observe the real thing in person, and the desire to interact came quickly. It took about 3 wks before I was feeding that shark by hand. Horned sharks were next, and then I moved onto banded cat sharks, and eventually leopard sharks and nurse sharks, etc. (larger species, larger specimens). Knowing what they felt like, knowing how they reacted to just my hand in the water, made such a HUGE difference in my perception of them.
It's one thing to hear about them, learn about them... but totally something else to actually have some kind of contact with them. There are many places around the country where direct interaction with some species or other is possible. I would urge you to seek those out while you progress with your SCUBA and diving overall.
This same approach works with most animals and is very popular with things such as reptiles, which are super high on most people's list of fears. I have worked for years teaching people to overcome their fear of snakes, and the hands on approach is the #1 more successful way to do it. There are a lot of misconceptions about "dangerous animals" such as "snakes are slimy", which is not true. You can tell someone til you're blue in the face that they aren't slimy, but they're not likely going to believe it until they can feel it for themselves. The general reaction to this is awe and wonder rather than enhanced fears, and that's all it takes is an open door to learn what these animals REALLY are. The same applies to sharks, fish, etc.

So if you can find a way to actually interact with these animals in a controlled environment, as you learn about them (scientific truth, not movies and people's "scare stories") your fears will slowly subside and may just turn into the same awe, wonder, and great respect that I and so many others have learned. ANY animal can bite, but knowing what causes an animal to bite is the easiest way to prevent it. Knowing and understanding an animal's habits and instincts will help you learn via observation to understand their movements, their reactions, and eventually you will progress to being able to predict what they will do/how they will react to certain circumstances.
The MN Zoo has a shark touch tank that is incredible for making first contact with small leopard and other small species of sharks. The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has a tank where a diver goes into the tank and interacts with the sharks and rays while talking with the audience. To see a diver petting and feeding these animals is also very reassuring and helps to ease fears. I would imagine in CA there has to be something available for you to seek out some kind of interaction if you look for it. Most sharks are not only fearful of people, but incredibly curious and docile animals. I only hope that some day I am able to enjoy a shark dive. I absolutely adore them!

04-24-2015, 12:37 PM
sharks have bad eyesight

Just wanted to say, SeaMonkey, that most sharks can see rather well. Their eyes are adapted for seeing in low light conditions (i.e. in deep water) at the expense of being able to focus and see detail well.

They can see in 10x lower light conditions than humans can, but can't see detail as well.

More info. here: http://www.sharksavers.org/en/education/biology/myth-sharks-have-poor-vision1/



04-24-2015, 01:53 PM
They do tend to rely more on other senses, though, senses we humans don't have!