Real life ‘Open Water’ drama plays out for British diver, girlfriend

Anyone out there who’s seen the movie “Open Water” knows just what British diver Richard Neely and his American girlfriend Allyson Dalton went through when they were recently stranded near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef after their diving group left without them.

The couple was stranded for nearly 20 hours, in some of the most shark-infested waters in the world.

“I truly thought I was going to die. Sharks were on our mind the entire time – but neither of us mentioned the ‘S’ word,” Neely told Britain’s Sunday Mirror. “We just had to stay calm to help each other through the ordeal and not think about being eaten alive.”

How did they manage to stay alive? By tying themselves together, placing a small dive buoy between them and shouting “I love you” to each other as the night wore on.

The scariest time, Neely said, was at daybreak, the most popular time for sharks to feed.

“Because I’d seen Open Water, I was very concerned about being stranded in the same way, but I didn’t mention it to Ally. I could bring myself to mention it because that would have been too much. As a dive guide, I know the best time to see sharks out and about is the crack of dawn,” he tells the Mirror.

“I knew when the sun is rising, the sharks look up to the surface and there were Ally and I floating and splashing, with my very big yellow marker buoy splashing on the surface.We were both very well aware of that but we didn’t mention it to each other. Fortunately, we didn’t see any shark fins in the water – not like in the movie.”

The couple was rescued by helicopter by mid morning, apparently just after a poisonous sea snake began circling them.

How did this happen? The couple says they simply got swept away by a strong current, so that they were out of sight of their dive boat. However, some are questioning whether their ordeal wasn’t some big publicity stunt.

According to the Washington Post, the couple brought along a water bottle — pretty pointless with all that dive gear — and wore full wet suits, unusual for the tropical waters around the GBR. Also, they sold their story to the British tabloids for millions.

Read about their entire ordeal here and decide for yourself.

The Today show has some video footage.