Diving sickness rises after naval ship sinks

HMAS Adelaide scuttled

From ABC News

Medical experts expect the number of scuba divers suffering the bends to reach a record high in New South Wales this year, because of a new diving site on the state's central coast.

The ex-naval frigate HMAS Adelaide was sunk off Terrigal and Avoca beaches last year to become an artificial reef and dive site.

Since then, doctors are reporting significant increases in the number of divers with decompression sickness.

The wreck lies about 32 metres below the surface, which is around the depth limit for many recreational divers.

Figures from the hyperbaric medicine unit at Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital show 27 patients were treated for the bends up until August this year.

In comparison there were 19 cases in total in 2011 and 28 in 2010.

Glen Hawkins from the University of New South Wales, who is also the medical director of private firm Hyperbaric Health, says the dive season has only just begun.

"By August this year, we've already reached the annual normal number and haven't hit the main diving season yet," Dr Hawkins said.

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New South Wales ex-naval frigate HMAS Adelaide Terrigal and Avoca beaches Prince of Wales Hospital