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I recently left my job as a deep sea diver. I worked for a large company that offers diving services ranging from salvage, underwater demolition, ship repairs, and search and recovery. They are a reputable company and are considered safe and reliable. So much so that they are often contracted by the government. Truth be told, I will miss working for them. The people I worked with were truly the best of the best.

But there are only so many unexplainable things you can witness in the deep before you decide to stay out of the ocean forever. Here are some examples of the secrets many divers take to their graves.

On the way to a job we were contracted to perform, our propeller became fouled. I suited up and prepared to make a quick dive to remove the fouling. I did a brief inspection and located thick line wrapped around the prop and shaft. I notified the supervisor, who then lowered a canvas bag with the tools I needed to cut it off. I hung the bag from the shaft and began freeing the propeller. It didn’t take long, and I returned to my tool bag. I noticed a strange crunching sound when I dropped the tools in the bag. When I looked in the bag, it was full of large shells, many of which I had just crushed. After getting out of the water and stripping off my gear, I began examining them. The shells had what appeared to be hieroglyphics etched into them. I learned from one of the senior guys that this wasn’t common, but had happened to several of them before.

On one other occasion we were recovering a military aircraft. When we arrived, naval ships were on scene waiting for us to recover it for them. We were quickly briefed that they had lost communication with the pilot and wanted us to recover it so that they could investigate. I was sitting comms and logs (communicate with divers and monitor depth & bottom time) when the divers reached the project. They reported that the plane was intact. We were all surprised. The supervisor asked how extensive the damage was. And they explained it was completely intact. As in, there was no visible damage at all. It was just resting on bottom. Even stranger, the aircraft canopy was still in place. That means that the cockpit is still sealed, in other words the pilot did not eject. But there was no sign of the pilot. We recovered the plane and the military took custody of it. We never heard about it again.

I witnessed another strange occurrence from topside at the location of a planned demolition. It’s necessary to explain that one way you can keep track of a diver is to watch their bubble stream. When a diver inhales, the helmet’s demand regulator provides air from their umbilical. Then when they exhale, it is exhausted into the water and floats up to the surface. On topside you can watch the bubbles to get a general sense of where the divers are. Now on this occasion we were hundreds of miles from land, and had placed two divers in the water. About an hour into the dive, we started noticing something strange was happening. There were three distinct bubble streams coming from where they were working. At first we assumed that there was a current and it was affecting them. But soon we noticed a fourth set of bubbles coming from a distance. It stopped about 20 feet from the divers, near the other mysterious bubbles. We asked the divers, but neither could see anything out of the ordinary. Then, even from the surface, we heard a blood curdling screech from the waters. Then silence. The divers weren’t too concerned, we hear strange things all the time. Sound travels well in the water, and you learn to assume it’s a long distance away. But soon, it looked like the water in the distance was boiling, and it was getting closer. It wasn’t boiling though. It was countless new bubble streams moving nearer to the location our divers were working. The supervisor ordered the divers to get onto the dive stage to be lifted back to surface. The bubbles were frighteningly close now, and the divers being lifted out said they had begun seeing shadowed figures in the distance. They couldn’t quite make out what they were though. We elected to pull the divers out without completing their decompression stops and throw them into our hyperbaric chamber.

During another dive near the Bahamas I had a frightening experience. It was my first salvage job with them, so I got in with a highly experienced diver. At just over 200 feet deep, we were examining the sunken vessel for rigging points. As I approached the bow of the ship I noticed he was investigating a damaged portion of the hull. He swam a few feet into the ship looking around. I asked him a few times if he wanted me to tend his umbilical (air supply hose) from just outside the ship (it’s highly advisable since it’s dangerous to enter a sunken ship) to which he stated no. He didn’t want to enter the ship. He insisted he was on the port side of the ship. Assuming he was disoriented I reached in to grab him. Just before touching him, I realized there were no bubbles coming from the helmet. Whatever this was, it wasn’t breathing. I backed up and reported that something else was down here. I expected mockery, but there was none. The next thing I heard was the diving supervisor. “Both divers, square yourselves away and get ready to leave bottom” When back on surface I asked the supervisor about it, he said he refused to put his divers in exceptionally dangerous situations. He then refused to clarify. We declined to complete the salvage.

I’m not entirely sure how to explain this next dive. I was on bottom, laying on my back staring up toward the surface. All I could see were varying shades of darkness. Suddenly I came to my senses. I had no memory of how I got here. I realized I couldn’t remember getting into the water, or even why I was here. I tried to will my body to stand up, but realized I couldn’t move. I couldn’t control my body. Over the comms I could hear topside instructing the other diver to find me. How long had I been down here? How long had I been missing? He told topside that “They grabbed him” I tried to shout out, but I couldn’t even do that. After a few frantic minutes of communication between the diver and topside, I noticed a shadow growing clear. It was moving toward me. “Topside, I’ve found him” He reached down and grabbed my harness to drag me back to our dive stage. As he pulled me, I rolled over and got a brief glance at my surroundings. I had been laying in a pile of human bones.

One of the strangest things I’ve ever witnessed happened on a body recovery mission. Even I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been the one in the water. The military had found a site in which they believed the bodies of several missing World War Two sailors would be found. I entered the water with another diver with body bags to carry the remains. On bottom, we eventually found three skeletons. We placed them in the bags and returned to the stage. On our return trip to the surface, we saw the bags begin to move. At first very slightly, then violently shaking and rolling. Bubbles escaped from two of the bags, and then they went still. The third bag continued struggling. We reached surface and sat down on the deck, stripping our gear immediately. We were afraid to touch the bags, but one of the tenders eventually unzipped the moving bag. An old, frail, very alive man rolled out coughing water. We stood shocked, unable to comprehend what we were witnessing. Still not sure what I was doing, I ran to the other two bags and unzipped them. There were two more old men laying motionless in the bags. They appeared to have just drowned. We attempted CPR but were unable to revive the men. The man, who was somehow now alive, was backing away from us. Screaming of the horrors he’d witnessed. He screamed about an eternity spent burning. We locked him in a room and contacted the military that we had found a “survivor” Within the hour a military chopper was hovering over us to pick up the two bodies and the survivor. We had placed the bodies back in their bags, and handed them over. The man bent over to inspect them, unzipping the bags. As he opened the bags, an unbearable stench overtook us. The bodies appeared to be in decay, as if they’d been dead and soaking in the water for a week. He zipped it back up and had them lifted into the chopper. Then we escorted him to the survivor. We could hear the screaming from down the hall. We opened the door and saw blood splattered on the walls. He was alive, and screaming, but he too appeared to have started decaying. The man calmly walked him to the chopper and the two of them were lifted onboard. We never heard about them again. However, I went back and examined the room. With his blood he had drawn hieroglyphics on the walls. I’m still not certain of what I viewed, but there were a few things that seemed to stand out. Waves, flames, and bodies. There was a tremendous amount of them on the walls, but shortly after I walked in our supervisor began scrubbing the walls. He refused to let us examine it any further.

I’ve heard rumors about the “Keepers of the Deep”. I’ve wondered about them for quite some time. I believe they are the link between many of our stories. Their myth within our team is seldom spoken of. But here is what I gathered over the years. We are not meant to roam the depths of the ocean. And when a diver loses his life in the deep, it doesn’t stay that way. They are cursed to forever roam the oceans. And when they find the living, in an envious rage, they will bring you back to the depths from which they came.

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