The Dive Otter

Book Reviews

Under Pressure

Gareth Lock's book on human factors in scuba diving explores critical aspects beyond technical skills. It redefines human error as a symptom, not the cause, emphasizing understanding over blame. It distinguishes between risk and uncertainty, cautioning against over-reliance on calculable risk. The book promotes psychological safety and just culture in diving, highlighting their roles in fostering a safe environment. It covers situational awareness, effective communication, and team dynamics for better diving outcomes. Finally, it advocates learning from failures to improve diving practices continually.

This book is highly recommended for divers looking to deepen their understanding of safety beyond technical skills, making it an invaluable resource for both beginners and experienced divers alike.

The Fundamentals of Better Diving (2021)

A generalized primer on the philosophy of the Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) dive agency. The nugget of gold for me in this book is the pre-dive planning concept of GUE EDGE. Goal, Unified Team, Equipment, Exposure (depth & time), Decompression strategies, Gas strategies, Environmental Issues

Before even knowing about this framework, I saw it put into practice by Richard Tessell. I had never seen it before, and it made total sense and was a wonderful way for he and I to be on the same page before the dive.

The Six Skills and Other Discussions

While published in 2011, over a decade ago, the concepts and topics discussed in this book remain relevant today. Despite being subtitled "creative solutions for technical divers," approximately 90% of its content is applicable to recreational or sport divers who are non-technical. Although one section delves deeply into decompression theory, the rest of the book offers examples from technical diving that can be broadly applied. Personally, this book introduced me to the proper method of calculating weight. Lastly, readers should be aware of Steve's occasional imprecise use of the terms SAC and RMV.

Technical Diving an Introduction

Despite its title, this book is highly beneficial for recreational divers. While it touches on advanced topics like rebreathers and exploration dives that may exceed the needs of most divers, the majority of its content is relevant to any diver. It covers essential subjects such as equipment types, buoyancy control, trim, finning techniques, dive drills, team cooperation, problem-solving, and fundamental decompression principles. Think of it as an in-depth discussion on topics your open water training might have only briefly covered. I recommend this book for divers at all experience levels.

Deco for Divers

Currently Re-Reading

Not Training Related / Pleasure Reading


Between the Devil and the Deep

An absolute page turner of a book. I didn't want to put it down. It is a fascinating dive into how an extremely skilled deep diver found himself in a medical emergency underwater and in a place where nobody could help him. The agonizing choice(s) he had to make to try and save himself were brutal to contemplate while reading. And then the heroic efforts the world (literally) went to save him once he was back on the surface had me cheering.

Absolutely fascinating and well worth your time.

The Last Dive

In contrast to "Between the Devil and the Deep" (above), this book had me screaming at the main characters and shaking my fist at the risks they were taking. A tragic story of a father and son dive team that not only couldn't get along with each other, but their personalities brought out the worst in each other and pushed each other to take more and more risk until it finally caught up to them. Thrill-seeking in the world of deep diving, a relentless pursuit of a goal and lust for fame and recognition is a deadly combination. A brutal reminder of what can happen in diving when the "Human Factors" are not in your favor.