The dangers of diving for pearls include unfriendly wildlife, equipment malfunctions and human limitations. Decompression, underwater hallucinations, breathing issues and drowning are common issues that pose a serious threat to inexperienced pearl divers.
Some dangers depend on the location. In Mexico in the 1800s, pearl divers needed to carry equipment to protect themselves against underwater creatures. By contrast, modern-day pearl divers in the Tennessee River face the risk of becoming entangled in their breathing tubes or accidentally disconnecting those tubes. Pearl divers off the coast of Qatar in the mid-1900s did not use any equipment or protection. For those divers, drowning and sawfish attacks were among the top causes of underwater death.