Downward ocean current, down-welling, down-current

  • have to be careful while diving around the rocks because of currents which push you like a wisp of straw to the depth!

    Of all the risks associated with freedive spearfishing this one actually scares me. Avoiding a blackout, getting tangled with line on the bottom, being run over by a boat or attacked by a shark, all seem manageable. Downward current is something I've never experienced and so only know about it from others accounts. To me it's the ultimate worst thing that can happen freediving, getting sucked down to depth near the end of your breath hold. Most of us know you can't fight a strong current even on the surface.

    How do you deal with a down current? Is there a warning its about to happen? Is there time to react? How deep will take you? Or is it a misnomer for a current that runs horizontally but once you're caught you can't get out?

  • I've dove around some wash rocks that get surrounded by super aerated water when ever a set wave washes over. The lack of buoyancy from the aeration can feel like a downward current. Probably not the phenomena your asking about.

  • You can see the diver kicking powerfully and just barely managing to not descend.



    Bali down-current.



    A little different, more like an undertow, dramatic nevertheless.



    A vortex. Not a down current but something to be aware of.



  • I understand the idea of aerated water. But if it happens together with a wave how do you know what's happening is not backwash from the wave?

    Good question. I'll video the spot next time I pull some scallops. Its kind of a mellower version of the "diver taken in undertow" video above except I pop up with some dinner plates.:)

  • That is some scary stuff. I dont think I've ever experienced a down current to the degree of those videos, but there are areas where I dive that have what I describe as "heavy water" where ascending feels like it takes ages.

    Thanks for this very important information.

  • Same here. The first time I heard about “the undertow” was when I was watching “Finding Nemo” with my daughter. Scary stuff you don’t hear much about

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