I have a certain amount of sympathy for the authorities in Australia who suggest two divers rescued after 18 hours lost at sea off the Great Barrier Reef should contribute to the cost of the operation.

There is a certain amount of disgruntled mumbling coming from the land down under after the couple – a British man and his American partner – sold their story.

I have no reason to doubt their ordeal in “shark infested seas” and the relief and gratitude they feel towards their rescuers.

But the fact that the couple reportedly engaged a “celebrity agent” so soon after being plucked from the sea seems more than a little hasty.

I’m sure the fact they sold their exclusive to a British tabloid didn’t endear them to their Aussie hosts either.

No figure has yet been put on the cost of the rescue operation, although the fact that it is the biggest staged in Queensland in recent history and involved the police, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Queensland’s State Emergency Service and the CQ rescue helicopter service (which is community funded and relies on public donations and sponsorship) suggests it will be quite high and a drain on public purses.

Whatever figure the divers did or didn’t get for their exclusive tale – reports of £500,000+ have been denied – it only seems right that the couple offer the Australian authorities more than just their gratitude.

Equally, I can’t help thinking the media so keen to scoop an exclusive would have been better off making a donation to those who made it possible for them to run such a thrilling, heart-warming, human interest story – namely the rescuers, rather than the divers who got themselves lost.

After all the story is as much the result of the dogged determination and professionalism of the rescue services as it is about the survival instinct and willpower of the divers. 

5 responses »

  1. Ursula says:

    You know, Paul, there is nothing more annoying than having to agree with everthing someone else says. So thanks for that.

    Some people need to do things like bungee jumping, climbing a steep mountain or diving in shark infested waters – to keep their adrenaline at life sustaining levels. Not my cup of tea, but then I don’t drink tea either.

    You are absolutely right on both counts: There is an unpalatable haste in selling “one’s story” these days; and yes, some of that money, made cheaply, should be put towards the rescue services.

    Can you come up with something slightly more controversial to get my teeth into? Please.


  2. Paul Groves says:

    Oh Ursula. But I would so hate to be controversial just for the sake of it. I’m happy to leave that for others to do.

    Rachel and I will try and come up with a few possible issues over lunch that might get you riled. Any hints?

  3. Ursula says:

    Yes, ok. Touche (I can’t find the accent aigu).

    I would never wish you to be like you know who. (Oh my god – how does he do it? I read a few other of his entries; forgetting content – he is such a bad writer – having the cheek to expound on professional journalism).

    I wish I could join you and Rachel for lunch – you’d soon have me riled – in the most friendly way.

    Cheers to both of you,

  4. Paul Groves says:

    Ursula: We’re currently endlessly replaying the French and B-H entries to Eurovision on YouTube (you can too if you scroll down to the post on my blog!).
    I’m sure you’d be riled in a matter of seconds.

  5. Mikki says:

    could I just put in a personal plea as well for the dozy lost divers to GIVE OVER talking about their fears of being eaten by sharks. Sharks are endangered and get enough bad press as it is. Divers should know better.

    And having read the story I am inclined to agree that they got what they deserved and should pay for the rescue rather than profit from it. Allegedly experienced divers, they dived without any form of surface marker (a £5 piece of kit that fits in your pocket) outside the designated dive site and contrary to the diver operators’ guidelines.

    It wasn’t even as if the dive boat forgot them, which has happened before where poor dive operators don’t count people on and off the boat – they were in the wrong place. Black-clad heads on a blue sea are almost impossible to spot if you don’t know where they are going to surface.

    Huh. Well that’s enough from THIS disgruntled diver

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