I'm reading a very good novel, called "Smilla's sense of snow". A minor figure tells this story from the time he was a frogman with the marines:

Going down, I glide through a cold belt [...] I panic. I lose my safety rope. [...] They told me later that Føjl saw it. And took a lead belt in the hand and jumped into the water without bottles. Only a rope in the hand. Because he couldn't waste any time. He dives to me. He catches me at a depth of twelve meters. But he's diving in a dry suit. It means that the water pressure presses the rubber against the skin. Every ten meters, the pressure rises by one atmosphere. At ten meters, the rubber edge cuts at the joints and knuckles through the skin. All I remember are clouds of blood.

I have never dived, but I've worn a dry suit, and can't imagine this happening. Even if the construction used to be different - the story must be happening sometime in the 1970s - what would the use be of a suit which hurts you at 10 meters? Why would people dive in them? So the story sounds like an implausible melodramatic plot device. On the other hand, the book seems to be correct at its other plot devices (I hadn't heard of Guinea worms before, but they are as shocking as described in it), so maybe this story is possible after all.

It would be too subjective to speculate about the likelihood of somebody trying this heroic saving and succeeding. But the "your suit cuts your wrists" part should be easier to judge. So, is (or was) this a real danger? If yes, how do divers avoid it when diving under more controlled circumstances?


1 Answer 1


I shall have to call bullshit on this. I personally forgot to hook up my dry suit inflation hose many years ago and sank to 36m (4.6 atm) in cold UK waters. Where I suffered from serious love bites (dry suit squeeze). Luckily my buddy figured out what I was trying to imply and attached my hose for me.

The cuffs would not cut you no matter the pressure as there is no air between cuffs and your wrist. The issue is with rest of the suit where the squeeze leaves beautiful purple marks as the air sucks blood through the skin (love bites).

Just as an add-on: People are diving dry suits over 300m and if your skin was cut at 10m (2atm) imagine what would have happened at 300m (31 atm) :)

  • Thanks for edit Aravona, just on the thru through :) I always use thru, it is not wrong and is accepted in informal communications. grammarist.com/spelling/through-thru
    – AquaAlex
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 9:36
  • 1
    interesting, never seen thru as an accepted word on it's own in all my years being English, only for drive-thrus. Looked like a text speak writing. You'd still get downgraded with it being on an English paper here I reckon ;) but fair point, though it says use through as a safer bet ;)
    – Aravona
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 10:06
  • :) i only know this because in past i was unsure and checked up.
    – AquaAlex
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 11:11

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