People who spend a lot of time out at sea – either for professional reasons such as fishing or recreational reasons such as diving – face many risks that at times can't even be anticipated. Being on the ocean means being out of your element, and no matter how strong your sea legs are, accidents can happen at any time.
Rogue waves are threats that anyone familiar with the ocean has probably considered, and they can be particularly dangerous because they seem to appear out of nowhere.
In mid-November, a woman off the coast of Florida fell victim to one of these aquatic anomalies, according to CBS Miami. Nina Poppelsdorf, 41, was on a 45-foot dive boat along with 22 other people – divers and crew members – when a rogue wave hit the vessel, causing it to capsize.
"There was just a bunch of debris in the water. Other boats were picking up other people," Greg Oars, who witnessed the accident, said of the chaos that ensued.
Three other people in addition to Poppelsdorf were transported to the hospital, but there was only one fatality.
Dr. Lev Kaplan, an associate professor of physics at Tulane University, told science and nature website EarthSky that these gigantic waves, which can reach up to 100 feet, are not well understood, but there are a couple of theories behind their formation. The first is that the force of the ocean currents cause them, and the second is that they are the result of a collision between several individual waves.
"Scientists will never be able to predict exactly when and where a rogue wave will show up because the sea is too chaotic a system," Dr. Kaplan told the source.
The unpredictability of such occurrences further emphasizes the importance of investing in marine insurance before taking a vessel out on the water. Boat owners may want to work with a marine insurance agency to gain access to the highest-rated providers in the industry and ensure that they are covered in the case of an unfortunate incident.