Are you interested in diving? That idea sounds really interesting, right? After all, the benefits of diving are many! Diving relieves stress and tension, helps to improve breathing capacity and tones muscles. It also promotes a feeling of relaxation to the body, thanks to the balance and the sea breeze, essential factors for this well-being. The contact with nature and marine life is capable of providing us calm, peace and tranquility, you can bet! So, if that’s what you’re looking for, you can be sure that this article is for you. Today, you will know the 7 most frequently asked questions about Scuba Diving, so that might help you to clarify everything that may be making you insecure to make that decision. Let´s get started!!
#1 – Who can dive?
Pretty much everyone can dive, but let´s be bit more specific about that answer.
As a PADI 5 Star Diving Resort we are following all standards and guideline from PADI, which is the most reliable and recognized diving agency in the world.
For the very first experience of the littles ones, kids from 8 year old already can start diving through the PADI Bubblemaker program, it is a very fun program which will introduce in a pool or pool like condition not deeper than 2m – it´s great chance for the kids to blow bubbles by scuba diving.
With 10 year old they can start with the first steps towards the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification.
Scuba Diving is a great family program too, through scuba diving the kids will learn more about the nature, how to protect the environment and develop a better environmental awareness.
There is not age limit for Scuba Diving, however, all the participants need to fill it up a Medical Questionnaire. Which means that if you have any answer “Yes”, you must go to see a Doctor and get a Medical Clearance before you sign up for the course.
Scuba Diving is for everyone! Kids, adults, elders, couple, single, family or friends. It doesn´t matter how old you are, once you started, you will fall in love for ever!!
#2 Is it dangerous?
Scuba Diving is very sportive and adventure activity and such as involves some risks.
Nevertheless, if you get a good training in a reliable diving shop with well-trained professionals, use quality equipment with adequate maintenance and keep the basic safety rules, scuba diving is extremely safe and fun. You´ll fell like you belong to a new world!
Serious diving shops that provides quality services makes the experience like no one does, sometimes could be a bit pricy but safety comes first, think about that, be sure you are choosing the right company before you close de deal.
Not only safety rules, but also, there are different levels of training that will prepare divers for the most diverse situations, environments, sea conditions and diving styles.
Keep your skills updated is really important, you can jump from Open Water Diver to Advanced Diver, prepare yourself to perform Night Dives, Deep Dives, Cave Dives or Drift Dives, but you also can keep going forward to become a Rescue Diver and be ready to help or prevent any incident or accident that might occur around you.
By participating of a proper training, keep your skills updated by performing dives regularly, keep the basic safety rules, locals rules, pay attention on dive briefings and respecting the ocean your safety is guaranteed.
#3 Marine life are dangerous?
A straight answer is a NO, there are not, but they could be! Let me explain that.
Most of the time you will be surrounded but tinny little and colorful fish, sometimes swimming with a beautiful turtle, inside a school of bigger fish or even swimming with rays and sharks. The only rule you have to remember is “DO NOT TOUCH OR CHASE”.
No marine life represents immediate threat or danger to scuba divers, however, by touching some of them you can put yourself in danger because some of them are poisonous and could seriously hurt you. Corals can be poisonous as well, so make sure you have sharped buoyancy skills before get yourself to close.
Most of the animals will run away as soon as you approach them, it happen with turtles, octopus, most of fish or even sharks doesn’t want to be bothered by our noisy fin and bubbles. After many hundreds years of predatory fishing, some animals might think about us as a threat and they will run or hide as soon as possible.
Some other behaviors are self-defense behavior, let´s put this way, imagine that someone try to hold you or touch without your consent. What would you do? Exactly!! Some animals, like a beautiful and peaceful turtle could just simply bite your curious finger!
But what about sharks? They are dangerous right? The answer still “No”. The sharks a like any other animals in the sea, just doing their things, searching for their favorite meal and sometimes a bit curious about us, but we are not even close to be shark food, we are not inside to the food-chain of any marine animal. We are the Apex-predator in the ocean. Just follow this 3 simple rule, just observe, don´t touch and don´t chase. In general, any animal would feel threaten if being touched and chased by a unknown-being, and that includes YOU!
#4 How long can I stay underwater?
To breath underwater and stay as long as possible we need to adapt our body for it. We use a equipment called SCUBA, which literally means – “Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus“.
This equipment consists in 3 main parts, the cylinder or tank, that could made of aluminum or steel, a BCD – Buoyancy Control Device, and Regulators that allows you to breath the air from the cylinder.
To control how much air you have consumed underwater we have a SPG – Submersible Pressure Gauge, that works almost exactly like the fuel gauge in a car. You just need to check very often and make sure to return to the surface before your SPG get in the red (reserve).
But you might be wondering, how long does the air lasts underwater?
Well, that will depend mainly of 2 factors:
- You air consumption;
Your air consumption is directly related with your breathing control, stress levels and healthy habits. A good example is from people who practice cardio activities more often, like running, swimming or yoga, usually they have a better breathing control rather than someone who works 6 days a week sitting in a chair and does not practice any activity.
But is the depth that affect the most on your time underwater. Every 10m underwater, the atmospheric pressure increase in 1 atmospheric pressure, which we call as 1 atm.
Here in the surface we are under 1 atm pressure, which is our atmosphere made of air, once 10m below the surface now we are under 2 ata (Atmosphere absolute), which means that the air and water atmosphere now are together making pressure in the top of our heads!
Now, all that pressure is affecting the air inside our cylinder making the air more dense, so every time you breath now, you are inhaling more molecules of the air.
If you are going to perform deep dives for example, you are going to be under effect of 4 ata, which means that you are consuming 4x more air than if you are in the surface.
Another thing that you will learn when taking your diving course is that during the dive we need to respect the no-decompression limit.
You must be wondering what is this ?!
Non-decompression limit is the maximum limit of time that we can spend at each depth to ensure the safety of our dive. Unlike what many imagine, when we dive we breathe air, which is composed of 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. When we breathe air under pressure our body absorbs nitrogen and is therefore called inert gas.
Our body has a nitrogen limit that it tolerates and in order not to have decompression sickness we need to dive within that limit. But don’t think this is super complicated.
In the past, we had to do various calculations to plan and monitor our dives, but today there is the dive computer, which does this alone and warns us of the times during the dive.
#5 Which are the equipment used when Scuba Diving?
Above we have mentioned the SCUBA meaning and 3 the main parts of this equipment. Which is the cylinder, BCD and regulators. Let´s go a bit further to see what else we have to bring with us in our underwater adventure.
Every gear we use has its own purpose and it is an essential equipment. Obviously the cylinder contains the most important thing, the air. The BCD will help you not only to hold the cylinder in your back but also you help to neutralize your weight underwater or float in the surface. The regulator will reduce the full pressure inside the cylinder and provides you breathings on environmental pressure point. Connected with the regulators you will find the pressure gauge to control the amount of remaining air, an alternate air source to share air with someone in trouble underwater and another hose connect with your BCD to help you to add air when its necessary to control your buoyancy.
But even using all of it, you still need more gear to make the fun real. It would be nice to be able not only to breath but actually see something right? For that reason we use diving masks that allows you see all the beautiful things underwater. Personal opinion, buy yourself one as soon as possible, the silicone of the mask eventually will shape on your face and it will be very comfortable to use and water leaks won´t happen very often. You can also add snorkel, it will be very useful on surface swimming from the shore or save some air while in the surface.
We also need a pair of fin or flippers, depending on where you come from. This equipment will help you with propulsion. With all this weights on you, without fins you won’t go anywhere, in fact, good fins helps to stabilize your body, provides easy movements and maneuvering. Make sure you find the one that fits better for you.
The suits, it can be a wetsuit, a semi-dry or a dry suit, it will depend on what is the water temperature on the location that you are going to dive. Some places are so warm that you won´t need one, but we also recommend to use something like a rash guard because the suits not only prevent heat loss but avoid scratches when too close to rocks or corals.
In temperature around 29C a 3mm will be just enough, from 26C until 21C, a 5mm wetsuit can do the job, less than 21C you can use 7mm or add layers like a hood vest. Most of the divers would go for a semi-dry suits that reduce the amount of water inside the suit. But if you dive in cold places you would love to have a very good dry-suit with a thick inner-garment that keeps your body dry and warm. Prepare you pockets for it!
And the last but not least, the weight belt. Despite of all the weight you are carrying, you won´t be able to sink without this equipment. But attention here, do not dive overweighed, that can leads you to some accidents and increase your air consumption quite a lot. You will learn on you very first course (PADI Open Water Course) how to set a proper weight based on the gear you are using and your body weight composition.
You still can add some extras like a diving computer, flash light, knifes, camera, inflatable devices, gloves and boots. Just remember to not carry unnecessary things.
#6 Do I need to have my own gear?
Well, do you need to have your own clothes? Do you need to have your own shoe? Do you need to have your own car? All these questions follows the same principle.
Yes, you can rent equipment to avoid the hassle of carrying, cleaning, maintain and storage the gear. However, owning your own gear bring much more benefits so, instead thing negatively, let´s see the side positive here.
Your own suits fits perfectly on you and doesn´t smell like anything that you wouldn´t know what it is, if you know what I´m saying? Despite I truly believe that serious companies wash their rental gear properly, after a few years on diving industry we had some experience about how some companies would take care of it. Some people don´t like the idea of using the same clothes, or shoes that other people are using, which makes a lot of sense to me, so think about the suits like your own clothes, specially those ones with more contact with your skin.
Owning your own BCD also provides much more comfort. Every time you rent a gear you never know which kind of gear you are going to have, if its well maintained or if there is pockets or d-rings for your extra gear. By owning your own gear you will know exactly where everything can be placed, the adjustments or where is located every single part of it.
The regulators, that is the part with more concerns. Again, I truly believe that serious companies would do the best to provide a quality gear to their customers, however, the reality is not always what we expect. Make sure you choose a good company who cares about well-being. Let´s see why.
The 2nd stage of the regulator is the one that you are going to put inside your mouth, if your renting this gear how many people also put inside their mouth? lots right? maybe more!! Does the companies actually do a proper cleaning between customers? Well, the serious companies does!
Especially now that we have to be careful due to the COVID-19 the companies need to take a extra care to make sure they will offer quality gear. However, owning your own equipment you don´t have this problem, all you need to do is to make sure you do overhaul properly according to the makers.
and the same applies to all the gear you are going to use, after all, it all up to you if you want to have your own gear or rent every time. After a few times renting you already spend the amount of money of a brand new quality gear. Think about that!!
#7 How do I start o Scuba Diving?
If you only want to have an experience underwater you can start with programs like “Discovery Scuba Diving“. On this activity the diving instructor will show you some very basics skills and take you to a really nice tour underwater in conditions like a pool. It is super safe and super fun!! Just note that this is not a diving course, but it can help you to take your next step.
If you are have decided that give the next step, you are going toward to PADI Open Water Course. This is the most important course because its here that you will learn all the concepts, basics diving skills, safety skills and develop all the knowledge to become a great diver. Just make sure that you are choosing the right company with great professionals.
As a certified Open Water Diver you will be able to go up to 18m depth safely, you will be able to dive by yourself with anyone holding you all the time, you will upgrade your vacation and see things that probably most of people you know will never see.
If you want to now more about Scuba Diving Programs, courses, tours or even planning a tour in Okinawa, please feel free to get in contact. We will be very happy to help you to find your way to the ocean.
By Otávio Munefiça – PADI Instructor