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‘Diamond Divers’ Risk Their Lives for Shiny Rocks

Expert diver Marty House seeks out undersea jewels in "Diamond Divers" on Spike TV.

It’s not news that men and women are willing to risk their lives to get rich. For "Diamond Divers," the new reality adventure series on Spike TV, the difference is the literal depths the show’s fortune hunters are willing to go to find their titular precious stones.

The show premiered this month and airs Wednesday at 10 pm ET/PT. It traces a crew of sailors and divers looking for billions of dollars worth of diamonds at the bottom of the ocean. Captain John commands a crew of misfits seeking riches beneath the waves.

Marty House, one of the show’s featured treasure seekers, connected with Crave Online recently to share the literal life and death factors involved in his strange profession.

CRAVE ONLINE: How difficult would it be for an average fit traveler to go to South Africa and look for these stones? Is it simply too dangerous to consider?

Marty House: Extremely difficult. You can get yourself killed if you’re not used to the equipment and the physics of diving. In South Africa, you’re on your own out there. You’re looking after yourself, because there isn’t anyone looking after you. The waters are extremely rough and change quickly on you.

And if there’s a storm or a short swell that you don’t see coming, there’s nowhere to run. No safe harbors. The coastlines are all lined with jagged rocks, so you can’t get anywhere near them without the possibility of damaging your boat. It’s too dangerous to consider. It really takes a trained, experienced, able-bodied seaman to do this. If you’re inexperienced, the danger will definitely outweigh any potential gain.

 
CRAVE ONLINE: What are the fitness requirements and routines for prepping oneself for chasing these diamonds?

Marty House: As a diver, you need to always make sure you have all your ducks in a row. A lot of things can go wrong out there and you need to make sure your diving equipment and pumps are working properly. Another very important factor is you need to be healthy and in good shape. You need to have healthy lungs, so it’s important to exercise. You also need good balance, be quick on your feet, and have good sea legs.
 
I exercise and stretch every morning. My workout routine includes jogging a few miles a day, pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups and free weights. I always make sure to go to the gym during any free time I have. I also play lots of sports, because you have to remember diving is a sport. You need to keep an athlete’s body – particularly making sure you have good core strength, low body fat and your arms and legs are in good shape. The better shape you’re in the more agile you are to deal with any unexpected danger that comes your way. You’re also better equipped to avoid decompression sickness. 
 
Last thing I’ll mention is that you need to stay hydrated. As we divers always say, “Hydrate or die.”
 
CRAVE ONLINE: How does the stress of these hunts affect team and family relationships?

Marty House: It was a very stressful experience, and it caused quite a bit of tension among our crew. Sam and I didn’t know the crew before meeting them in South Africa, and we didn’t quite mesh well. We felt like we were doing all the work and that caused a lot of resentment. Also, when we first got there, the boats weren’t ready and the equipment was failing – which just added more fuel to the fire.

Sam and I had to give up our jobs to go out there, so we had put a lot on the line. We needed to find those diamonds.
 
As far as my family, my mother was really worried when I told her I was doing this. Here I was, going to the other side of the world, facing down these rough seas (not to mention sharks and poachers), just to find these shiny rocks. It was a crazy adventure though, and an opportunity she knew I couldn’t pass up. She was really relieved when I made it back in one piece, though.
 
 
CRAVE ONLINE: Have you come into contact with the issue of outlawed conflict diamonds? How do you steer clear of that danger and controversy?

Marty House: The company we were working for owned that part of the ocean we were diving in, so anything found on that piece of the ocean floor is our property – for us to split the profits. We just made sure to stay within our boundary.

CRAVE ONLINE: We hear constant rumors that diamonds really aren't as rare as is popularly believed – that the market is kept tight by the major distributors holding back supply. What's your take on that?

Marty House: As far as the diamond business and market goes, I can’t really speak to that. All I know is we risked our lives and quit our jobs to go out there, so they better be worth a lot.