The probabilities of decompression sickness (DCS) among diving fishermen are higher than in any other group of divers. Diving behavior of artisanal fishermen has been directed mainly to target high-value species. The aim of this study was to learn about the occurrence of DCS derived from sea cucumber harvesting in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. We conducted a retrospective chart review of diving fishermen treated at a multiplace hyperbaric chamber in Tizimín, Mexico. In total, 233 recompression therapies were rendered to 166 diving fishermen from 2014 to 2016. The average age was 36.7 ± 9.2 years (range: 20-59 years); 84.3% had experienced at least one DCS event previously. There was a correlation between age and DCS incidents (F: 8.3; R2: 0.07) and differences in the fishing depth between seasons (H: 9.99; p⟨0.05). Musculoskeletal pain was the most frequently reported symptom. Three divers, respectively, suffered permanent hearing loss, spinal cord injury and fatal outcome. Diving fishermen experience DCS at an alarmingly high rate, probably due to the type of species targeted, given the requirements in each case. Understanding divers’ behaviors and their incentives while in pursuit of high-value species such as sea cucumber could help to find ways to mitigate health risks and help enforce regulation.

Huchim-Lara, Chin, Salas, Rivera-Canul, Cordero-Romero, Tec, Joo, Mendez-Dominguez (2017). Decompression sickness among diving fishermen in Mexico: observational retrospective analysis of DCS in three sea cucumber fishing seasons. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2017 Mar-Apr;44(2):149-156. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28777905