Scuba Diving 101 - Part II
A Beginners Guide to Exploring the Ocean
Originally posted on Porch.com
Diving Preparation Tips
Before you “dive in,” there are several important things to consider. Remember that each step in the preparation process is vital to be comfortable and safe in the water. If you’re not familiar with swimming in the ocean, take a few swimming practice lessons before you start diving.
● Take local diving lessons: Before you spend money on scuba equipment and get your certification, it’s a good idea to take a few diving lessons near you. These lessons typically take place in a standard swimming pool, so you won’t need to travel long distances or live near the ocean to get in some basic practice.
● Get your certification: It’s recommended that you take the PADI Open Water Certification training before you start scuba diving. This course takes two full days to complete, with a lesson in diving theory completed beforehand. Once you receive your certification, it is good for life and never expires, so it’s well worth the effort upfront. If you’re traveling after you get your certificate, wait at least 24 hours from your last dive before you fly to your destination so your lungs can acclimate.
● Learn marine biology: You don’t need to be an expert in marine biology, but some certifications include a brief course to help you learn more about the fish, plants, and animals that inhabit our oceans. If your training doesn’t include marine biology, feel free to buy a few books on the subject or read articles about it online to help you learn.
● Get the right equipment: Every scuba diver needs the right equipment to ensure a safe dive.
o How to obtain equipment: You can choose to rent your equipment from a scuba dive center near your dive location at a reasonable cost. However, if you’re planning to dive more frequently, investing in your own equipment is well worth the price. Key items include goggles or a face mask, a wetsuit, fins, a scuba tank, a regulator, a snorkel, and a depth gauge.
o Bring a camera: Cameras and video cameras are optional, but they provide an amazing opportunity to capture incredible images and videos. Make sure that your camera equipment is designed for use underwater. A snoot is a great accessory that provides light to help you capture dramatic photos underwater. You can use it to adjust the lighting underwater for spectacular macro photography, and create the best photo album!
o How much does it cost? Your dive training should cost between around $350 and $450 or more, depending on the type of certification and location. Personal equipment like fins, goggles, and wetsuits can run between $200 and $300 on the low side. If you’re investing in professional equipment such as gauges and cameras, plan to spend several hundred dollars more on each. Budget for between $700 and $1,000 if you’re a beginner, which should include your certification and all of the basic gear you’ll need to get started.
o Where to store your equipment at home? Proper Storage is the key to keeping your scuba equipment in good condition. Rinse used gear off with a hose before putting it away to remove salt and mineral buildup. Ensure that every item is completely dry before putting it in storage. Hang wetsuits up in a clean, dry area away from direct sunlight or high temperatures. You can keep equipment like your snorkel, fins, and facemask in a sealed plastic container or a plastic bin with a lid in between dives.
Planning Your Trip
Once you’re certified and have all of your equipment, it’s time to start planning your first official dive.
● Find the best place to scuba dive: If you’re staying within the United States, there are several fascinating places to discover. Try Monterey, California, home to a massive kelp forest filled with a fantastic range of sea life. Ginnie Springs, Florida, has crystal clear waters and is an excellent East Coast option with three dive sites within the park. Maui, Hawaii, is home to many popular scuba diving sites filled with turtles, fish, rays, and unique underwater lava tubes. Explore several options to dive near you or plan a trip to an exotic location to discover new worlds and species.
● Choose a dive shop: When looking for dive shops, make sure they are PADI certified for your safety. These dive shops are easy to find with a simple Google search or via scuba diving Facebook groups and on Twitter and other social media outlets.
Important Scuba Diving Safety Tips
Part of your diving certification training will include information about the safety precautions every diver should take. Here are some basic safety tips to always keep in mind before, during, and after a dive.
● Get a medical examination: If you’re fit and healthy, a medical exam is not required, but it can help to ensure that you’re in good health before you start diving. If you feel unwell, don’t dive until you’re feeling completely healthy. You’ll need to sign a medical statement before you dive, so it’s best to confirm that you’re in good shape before you start.
● Food: Stick to light, well-balanced meals before any scuba diving trip and wait at least two hours before getting in the water. Remember to drink plenty of water and avoid consuming any alcohol on the day of your dive.
● Sleep: Make sure that you get plenty of restful sleep the night before your dive. At least six hours is recommended, but eight is preferable.
● Ear pain: You may notice mild ear discomfort called ear barotrauma when you dive due to a pressure imbalance between the middle ear canal and the water pressure outside your ears. Use an exercise called the Valsalva maneuver to help restore the balance in your ears.
● How long before can you fly after scuba diving? Always wait at least 24 hours after your last dive before you fly. When you fly in a pressurized environment, it can cause decompression sickness if you don’t give the nitrogen in your lungs time to dissipate.
● Listen to your dive guide: Listen carefully to your dive guide, and make sure that you always keep them within view. Follow the guide’s instructions regarding where you will be going, what you should do, and what to look out for.
● Try meditative breathing: If you feel anxious while diving, slow down and take some deep, meditative breaths. Two short inhales, and one long exhale can help you feel calm and more relaxed.
● Don’t touch anything: Never touch anything while you’re diving. Coral reefs and oceans contain a variety of species that can be poisonous or even deadly. Plus, touching plants and marine life can cause harm to the living things in the ocean.
● Can scuba diving be sustainable? Scuba diving can be a sustainable sport if you follow a few basic practices. This includes never touching or taking anything from the ocean, never feeding sharks, and learning to use a flash camera correctly. Avoid using single-use plastic while on-board so that it doesn’t accidentally get into the ocean. Choose a scuba dive program that focuses on sustainability and uses good policies regarding eco-friendly equipment and methods.
Other Fun Underwater Activities: Snorkeling
Aside from scuba diving, you can also have fun underwater with snorkeling. While scuba diving involves using an underwater apparatus that allows you to go deep underwater, snorkeling lets you explore shallower waters. When you’re snorkeling, you will stay near the surface of the water and use a mask and a breathing tube called a snorkel. You’ll be able to discover beautiful panoramic underwater views from above without ever having to deep dive underwater. Snorkeling is also a great alternative to scuba diving for children, beginners, or those who simply want to enjoy a quick hour or two of exploring without complicated equipment.
The sport of scuba diving provides you with a wonderful way to reflect and do something you love. It’s also an excellent opportunity to try a new activity, get some exercise, and gain a new appreciation for the beauty of our world’s open waters. Scuba diving shows you how fragile nature is, and it opens your mind to exploring and discovering new species, environments, and much more.
Originally posted on Porch.com