Dave Shaw (diver)

David John Shaw (20 July 1954 8 January 2005) was an Australian scuba diver, technical diver, and airline pilot for Cathay Pacific, flying the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, then the 747-400, and then the A330-300, A340-300, and A340-600.[1] He flew for Cathay Pacific from 1989 until his death in 2005. Before flying for Cathay Pacific he flew for Missionary Aviation Fellowship in Papua New Guinea and Tanzania. He also flew agricultural aircraft in South Australia and New South Wales.

David "Dave" John Shaw
Born(1954-07-20)20 July 1954
Died8 January 2005(2005-01-08) (aged 50)
OccupationAirline pilot, diver
Known forCave diving

Dive equipment

Shaw's first rebreather was an Inspiration closed circuit rebreather, with which he eventually dived to depths beyond its purported capability. This prompted him to not only purchase a Mk15.5 but to replace its analogue electronics with the digital ones of the Juergensen Marine Hammerhead, resulting in a specially modified POD designed to handle extreme pressures. The Mk15.5 was his rebreather of choice for dives deeper than 150 metres (500 ft). For extended dives in caves shallower than 150 m, Shaw used his Cis-Lunar since he believed it had superior redundancy capabilities but could not cope with extreme depths.

Diving records

On 28 October 2004, Shaw broke the following records at Bushman's Hole, South Africa:

  • Depth on a rebreather
  • Depth in a cave on a rebreather
  • Depth at altitude on a rebreather
  • Depth running a line

He used a Mk15.5 with Juergensen Marine Hammerhead electronics and the following gas mixtures: trimix 4/80, 10/70, 15/55, 17/40, 26/25, air, nitrox50, 100% oxygen. The cave elevation was 1,550 metres (5,090 ft) and the dive duration was 9 hours 40 minutes.[2]

On this record-breaking dive, Shaw discovered the body of Deon Dreyer, a South African diver who had died in Bushman's Hole ten years previously. The body was at a depth of 270 metres (890 ft).[3][4]

Last dive

Shaw died on 8 January 2005 while endeavoring to recover the body of Deon Dreyer.[3][4]

Shaw recorded his dive with an underwater camera, which allowed researchers to determine that he suffered from respiratory issues due to the high pressure.[5][6] Shaw ran into difficulties when the body unexpectedly began to float. Shaw had been advised by various experts that the body would remain negatively buoyant because the visible parts were reduced to the skeleton. However, within his wetsuit, Dreyer's corpse had turned into a soap-like substance called adipocere, which floats. Shaw had been working with both hands, and so had been resting his can light on the cave floor. The powerful underwater lights that cave divers use are connected by wires to heavy battery canisters, normally worn on the cave diver's waist, or sometimes attached to their tanks. Normally he would have wrapped the wire behind his neck, but he was unable to do so; the lines from the body bag appear to have become entangled with the light head, and the physical effort of trying to free himself led to his death. Three days later, both of the bodies floated up to near the surface as the dive team was retrieving their equipment.[7]

The dive on which Shaw died was the 333rd of his career. At the time of his world record setting dive, he had been diving for a little over five years.[8][9][10]

Personal life

Shaw was a devout Christian. He and his wife, Ann, lived in Hong Kong, where they were members of a small Christian congregation.[11] They have two children, Steven Shaw and Lisa Shaw (now Lisa Moyers).[12]


  1. "Deep Cave Diving with Dave Shaw". Deep Cave.
  2. "Scuba Diving World Records - Deepest Longest - Dave Shaw - Nuno Gomes - Verna Van Schaik - Pascal Bernabé - Mark Elyatt - Johan Beukes". ScubaRecords.com.
  3. Zimmermann, Tim (1 August 2005). "Raising the Dead". Outside Magazine.
  4. Shaw, David. "Deepcave.com". Retrieved 26 August 2008.
  5. Mitchell SJ, Cronjé FJ, Meintjes WA, Britz HC (February 2007). "Fatal respiratory failure during a "technical" rebreather dive at extreme pressure". Aviat Space Environ Med. 78 (2): 81–6. PMID 17310877. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
  6. David Shaw. "The Last Dive of David Shaw". Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVZ_XAXUWlw
  8. Finch, Phillip (2008). Diving into Darkness: A True Story of Death and Survival. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 295. ISBN 978-0-312-38394-7. LCCN 2008024271.
  9. "Episode 515: Good Guys, Act 3". This American Life.
  10. Washington, Glynn (31 October 2014). "Where No One Should Go". Snap Judgment. NPR.org.
  11. Diving into Darkness, pp. 2, 25.
  12. Diving into Darkness, pp. 29-30.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.