LMC, otherwise known as Loss Of Motor Control or Samba, is a hypoxic state caused by lack of oxygen. It usually occurs near the surface and its symptoms include spasms, difficulties with speech, and confusion. Needless to say, LMC can prove to be lethal if the diver is alone. Alchemy spearo Robert John recently experienced one, while on a dogtooth tuna hunt in Guam. Had his friends not been there to help, things could have easily taken a turn for the worst. Naturally, he had the Go Pro running and recorded the whole thing on video. Here’s what happened.
When In Guam
“When hunting dogtooth, I hardly ever have to breathe up for long because they usually come in on a flasher or chum, 40 - 50ft beneath the surface and I’m not waiting on the bottom for them. Typically you can approach them pretty straight on, so on this dive, I had thought it would be the same or similar to all the others. The tuna was at about 60ft when I first spotted it from the surface and it was my turn to take a drop. It eventually began swimming deeper midway on my drop so I figured I’d wait around at 70ft (at the end of my floatline) in hopes it would be curious enough to come to check me out. I began ascending and dropped a whole mackerel thinking it would attract it timed right for one of my buddies to get a shot off one, but instead the tuna came straight for it and fast, so I canceled my ascent and repositioned my body facing down again to get ready for a shot.
I believe this was where I made a mistake. I had only planned for a touch-and-go dive and at this point, I was definitely down for longer than I’d physically prepared myself for. I got the shot off on the doggie, hit the spine, and broke it. With the dogtooth fluttering around, 2 grey reef sharks came in out of nowhere and the dogtooth started heading/fluttering straight for me while I was ascending. I was afraid I would get entangled in the shooting line midway to the surface plus with the sharks around my heart rate and the adrenaline were through the roof. I made it to the surface, exhaled, and quickly realized I had lost control of my motor skills. I couldn’t kick to hold my head above the surface for a bit, but I was able to sort of swing my hips in a way to help. I already knew what was happening because I never felt that way before. I was like “oh this is it, I’m going to blackout”.
Paul To The Rescue
I remember trying so hard to keep my head up until my partner Paul Witt got close to me and I tried to tell him to wait and let me hang onto him. The words “wait hang on” came out completely slurred and sounded like a different language. My arm extended toward him shaking, completely stiff and I could barely lift it. Held onto him for a bit, caught my breath and we continued losing that battle on keeping the doggie from the sharks.
Never Dive Alone
It was an insane and scary experience and after we all saw the footage off my GoPro, we agreed that the rescue/recovery was all off and that everyone was a bit distracted by the sharknado that was going on beneath us. Fortunately, it all turned out fine though, and definitely could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for Paul being there at the right time. I’m still very confident that if I had blacked out completely and started sinking my partners would have seen me and came and got me before it was too late. This is just another prime example of why you should always have a partner or team with you in the water and not take any chances. Your buddy is your greatest tool in the ocean, not your speargun”.