Who made you Judge Judy and Executioner? - The Trial of the Split Fin

I was discussing possible blog posts with Wifebuddy last night, over a rather splendid outing to an expensive restaurant, as we celebrated our 3rd year of marriage.

I know what you’re thinking ladies; ‘that’s one lucky gal!’ That, of course, would be an accurate assumption, and I have no doubt Kerri wakes up every day praising Buddha for blessing her with my eternal companionship.

I would also like to add, the reason my post is a late this week is because I was taking the little lady out for the night. I favoured dinner, as opposed to her observing me sitting in front of my laptop, a more formidable alternative for the evening’s celebrations.

I often run my blog ideas past Kerri; she undoubtedly provides me with a better approach or subject, which I considerably ignore and prattle on regardless. As they say, behind every great man is a greater woman; I am no exception.

On this occasion I decided to heed her advice.

I initial wanted to write a post about all the bits of scuba gear I really hate. Wifebuddy declared this a negative post, unhelpful, and unfair; as it was merely my opinion. She omitted my opinion is omnipotent, but she held a valid argument; as wives often do.

As a result I decided the only fair way to write this post was to pick one thing and put on trial.

The Trial

THE ACCUSED: The Split Fin

A scuba fin with a distinguishable “split” down the middle; often produced in obnoxious colours by a variety of manufacturers.

THE JUDGE: Judge Judy

The irrepressible Judge Judith Sheindlin holds the court; everyone knows there is no greater purveyor of justice and fairness, than a reality TV star.


I needed to draft in the best prosecuting attorney at law; and there is no better than the 1980’s judicial legend Jimmy Smits, aka ‘L.A Law’. Plus, only Jimmy could carry off a shiny, silver suit.

THE DEFENECE: Atticus Finch

In the order of fairness the state provided the noblest, courageous, most successful lawyer ever. If, ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’ fame, Atticus Finch successfully defended a black man against an undeserved rape charge, in 1930’s deep South America; he can provide adequate defence for a fin.


I have witnessed many things the split fin has done, and will provide a clear, concise, and honest portrayal of events.


Jimmy Smits: Your honour, in these proceedings I will prove to the court, the ‘Split Fin’ is guilty of many travesties in the scuba diving world.

The charges are:

  • Destruction of reef property
  • Disturbing the silt
  • Attempted murder
  • Speeding

I call my first witness; I Are Diver.

In your own words Mr Diver, please describe to the court your experience with the split fin.

I Are Diver: Well, I was diving my local site with a new buddy when the incidents in question occurred.

As we were completing our checks I noticed he was carrying a set of split fins. Of course, I was immediately concerned.

Atticus Finch: Objection your Honour; that is opinion not fact.

Judge Judy: Sustained.

I Are Diver: Sorry your Honour. I noticed the split fins and made a mental note. We proceeded with our dive.

Jimmy Smits: How soon into the dive did the charges against the defendant arise?

I Are Diver: Well, at first it was fine, and the dive went on like any other. It was once we reached the wreck I began to notice certain traits.

Jimmy Smits: Define “traits” please Mr. Diver.

I Are Diver: Well, my buddy was demonstrating the flutter kick, and I noticed the wash blowing pieces of sea weed from the hull. It wasn’t really a problem at that time, so we continued along the walkway of the wreck.

Once in the walkway I noticed the wash from the fin knocked an innocent starfish from the wall, and it landed upside down on the gangway floor.

Jimmy Smits: What did you do upon witnessing this barbaric display?

Atticus Finch: Objection!

Judge Judy: Sustained. Mr Smits, please rephrase the question.

Jimmy Smits: What action did you take Mr. Diver when the starfish fell?

I Are Diver: Like any good diver I picked it up and righted it on the floor, so it could continue its innocent existence.

Jimmy Smits: Was any other aquatic life harmed in any way?

I Are Diver: Yes. Nothing was safe. I witnessed many soft corals being subject to the extreme wash from the fin kicks.

Jimmy Smits: What happened next?

I Are Diver: As we progressed into a more silty area of the wreck, it really got scary. My buddy was leading, and with every down stroke of his flutter kick, silt billowed up in front of me, obscuring my vision almost entirely.

Jimmy Smits: Where you afraid?

I Are Diver: Oh, I was very scared. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t see my buddy in the silt out, and I was concerned he may have an issue and I couldn’t reach him. I was also worried that I could have developed a problem and I would be unable to signal for assistance.

Yes, it was a very scary time indeed.

Jimmy Smits: Did you complete the dive?

I Are Diver: Yes. Thankfully I know the wreck exceptionally well, and we had a solid plan, so I was able to predict the route my buddy would take.

Jimmy Smits: You’re a very good diver Mr. Diver.

I Are Diver: Yes I am. Thank you.

Jimmy Smits: What happened once you re-located your buddy?

I Are Diver: I caught up with him and we looked about the wreck a little more, experiencing further silt outs, ever increasing daunting moments of zero visibility, and further disruption to sea life. Thankfully I held it together.

Jimmy Smits: You’re a very good diver Mr. Diver.

I Are Diver: Yes I am. Thank you.

Finally we thumbed the dive and began to follow the line back to shore. All of a sudden, my buddy just took off! He gave two fin kicks and just left me behind. I tried everything, but couldn’t keep up. I merely ended up out of breath and tired.

I think he was trying to kill me with exertion.

Jimmy Smits: That sounds like a terrible ordeal.

I Are Diver: It really was. I think I’m lucky to be alive.

Jimmy Smits: The prosecution has clearly demonstrated that the split fin attacked the marine environment, silted up a shipwreck to zero visibility, thus endangering Mr. Diver and finally speeding away after the incidents described previous.

The prosecution rests.


Atticus Finch: If it pleases the court I would like to introduce ‘exhibit A.’ Do you recognise this photograph Mr Diver?


I Are Diver: Eh yes, it was on our honeymoon. I believe it was our wedding night.

Jimmy Smits: Objection your Honour; there is no evidence those are Mr Diver’s fins.

Judge Judy: Are they your fins Mr Diver? Remember you’re under oath.

I Are Diver: Eh … yes, the black fins are mine. But…

Atticus Finch: Can you tell the court precisely what fins they are?

I Are Diver: I, eh, can’t recall.

Atticus Finch: I want the TRUTH!

I Are Diver: You can’t handle the truth!!

Ok, I admit it. I had Oceanic V12 split fins. But I didn’t want them; my diving instructor used to own them … he MADE me buy them from him!

I didn’t know…


Atticus Finch: What became of the fins?

I Are Diver: I sold them on eBay, but I hardly made any profit…

Atticus Finch: So, not only do you admit to having such ‘dangerous’ fins, but you were content to pass them on to another diver?

Have you ever heard of corporate responsibility Mr Diver?

Jimmy Smits: Objection!

Atticus Finch: Withdrawn. Have you nothing to say Mr Diver?

I Are Diver: I… I didn’t know any better. I hadn’t been educated… I had no one to guide me. I’m sorry; do you think ebay user ilovescuba8769 is ok?

… how could I have known? … oh God… what have I done?

Judge Judy: Bailiff; get Mr Diver a tissue and escort him to Wifebuddy.

Atticus Finch: I believe I have proved to the court that IF the split fin is SO dangerous, as the charges suggest, how could a diver as ‘fabulous’ as I Are Diver have owned such an item, provided by a professional diving instructor no less, and subsequently sold them to a new diver for financial gain?

The facts speak for themselves.

The defence rests.


Judge Judy: I have considered all the evidence before me and I firmly believe the split fin is GUILTY as charged.

  • The wash created is ridiculous.
  • A diver has no control when wearing them.
  • Silt outs are dominant with split fin divers.
  • Aquatic life is under constant threat while these weapons of mass destruction are available to the public.
  • They are an overpriced solution to a problem that does not exist.

I hereby sentence that all Split Fins be thrown over the side of the dive boat to form an artificial reef.

Atticus Finch: Your Honour I appeal your decision! Let the masses have their say!

Calling all scuba divers – Should the Split Fin be sentenced to death?


  1. YES!!! Down with the split fin!!
    Absolutely no bloody use at all in a current and I am fed up with having to bring the boat around to pick up split fin divers.

    Get yourself a pair of Scubapro Jet Fins and be done with it!

  2. Dude, you have reached a new summit in fabulousness as a blogger!!!!!!!!!!!

    And yes; split fins are just about useless except for cruising around slowly and effortlessly where there is no current (and that can be done with any other fin!).
    EXCEPT for the Apollo Biofin wich wins all test reviews all the time.
    Personaly i think jet fins and turtles are heavy rigid cumbersome ugly things better replaced by a piece of plywood in all situations except drysuit diving.
    I prefer a long light thin blade, or freediving fins when no silt or fragile bottom...

  3. The wash created is ridiculous.
    -To quote Dwight Schrute, "FALSE". Having instructed hundreds of students in VERY silty conditions, in my experience split fins create far LESS wash than blade fins.

    A diver has no control when wearing them.
    -Far too vague to even dispute. I can frog kick, reverse kick and helicopter in mine, so maybe it's a skill issue, not a technology issue.

    Silt outs are dominant with split fin divers.
    -Close enough to the first point.

    Aquatic life is under constant threat while these weapons of mass destruction are available to the public.
    -Split fins (at least the Apollo Bio Fins I use) are more flexible, so in the case when they hit a reef they're more likely to bend than just rip life off the coral.

    They are an overpriced solution to a problem that does not exist.
    -As an instructor, I got them so I could kick less and move slower or kick at a normal pace and catch up with a runaway student. They have a broader range of speed (you even mention they're too powerful, but I doubt divemaster candidates doing an open water tow are complaining about their fins being too fast) and they greatly reduce strain in the knee. My dad (3 knee surgeries) and mom (over 60) can only continue to dive thanks to split fins.

    As for split fins in a current, having trained quite a few DM's, the split fins always beat the blade fins in the tow against a current.

    I love the discussion and everything you write (even this one), but I honestly think the complaints against split fins is actually due to not knowing how to use them, not due to flaws in the concept of split fins. In that case, it's the fault of the instructor or person who sold them for not telling the purchaser some simple concepts to keep in mind while diving split fins.

    I don't want to hijack the discussion, but as someone who wants to get into tech diving, I'm seriously frustrated at the gear elitism that exists in tech diving. When I get cave certified and have a hundred cave dives under my belt, if I show up with split fins I'm still going to be ridiculed? If I use a computer along with gauges and custom tables, people will get on me? If I don't use the exact gear the instructor uses, I'll get told what I have is crap? As an instructor, I make recommendations based on using all gear, have no problem saying "I've never used it so I don't really know" and working with divers to make them better regardless of equipment. /soapbox


  4. Thanks for the comments guys, keep them coming.

    I believe Nick and I discussed this matter for a couple of hours on Twitter! It was fair to say we agreed to disagree!

    Thanks Jean-Louis; glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, my Jet fins are beastly, but perform their task flawlessly. ;)

  5. As the owner of a pair of shiny silver Tusa Tri-Ex fins I cannot comment on split fins but I would like to say thank you Mr Diver for yet another brilliant post!

  6. Mr Diver - I must agree with your witness statement ... After diving in Mares fins since 2001, I was convinced by a pushy sales person to try out a pair of split fins - I dived with them once and that was once too many. I had only taken the split fins along with me on the boat, otherwise I think I'de had surfaced, signalled the boat man to throw in my yellow fins and continued with the dive - had that happened the sample split fins would have ended up as an artificial reef ....

  7. Darren Shields-Pettitt10 February 2012 at 14:56

    I dont know anything about diving, as I only did scuba diving once in Mexico, but I was seriously pmsl reading that mate. Hilarious - tho you really are a very good diver Mr Diver :)

  8. Why thank you Darren; glad you enjoyed the post!

  9. I enjoyed the work you put into this to make it entertaining. I own two sets of splits and must agree with Mr. Bostic, less wash and eaiser kicking. From time to time I loan a student my splits and put on a blade fin again, yuck. Not for me. But then to each their own.

  10. I personally do not use split fins, but I have used them and prefer them to blade fins or jet fins. I now use Scuba Pro Seawing Nova's (NICE).
    But I must say everything mentioned in the court case I have seen with every fin out there. My biggest issue with split fins is that people swim away for their poorer dive buddies with the blade fins.

    Kicking up silt? BAD TRAINING!
    Destroying reef? BAD TRAINING!
    Disturbing Marine Life? BAD TRAINING!

    I think bad training and inability to use the different fins in the way best suited for them is the biggest problem here.

    Why do divers insist that they need to swim at 100km/h while diving? I rarely even kick, I just float and glide, maybe doing a shuffle with my fins or a frog kick now and again.

    People KICK less, glide more! Enjoy the marine environment we are not swimming a race here.


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.