|Page: Scuba Diving|
Originally the acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, SCUBA is now a word in its own. Scuba diving is a form of underwater sport in which a diver uses a scuba set (with compressed air tank) to breathe underwater with greater freedom of movement and stay underwater significantly longer than with the breath-holding techniques employed during snorkelling and free diving.
While divers usually rely on swim fins attached to their feet, they can also use external propulsion from an underwater vehicle, or even a sled pulled from the surface.
Scuba diving also offers a number of options. You may prefer a dive where you are able to float with the currents while relaxing and taking in the sights. Or you may opt for the adrenalne rush of swimming with hundreds of hammerhead sharks. There is also cave diving, wreck diving and even deep diving for the more adventurous or those desiring a more technical challenge.
Most people begin with recreational diving. While there is no consolidated certifying or regulatory agency, and the sport is mostly self-regulated, there are numerous large diving organisations that train and certify divers and dive instructors. Many diving related sales and rental outlets require proof of diver certification from one of these organisations prior to selling or renting certain diving products or services.
If you don't wish to deal with the complicated equipment and training usually associated with scuba diving, then Snorkelling is a good choice. Being a rather popular recreational activity at tropical resorts and scuba diving locations, its primary appeal is the opportunity to observe underwater life in a natural setting. It is possible in almost any body of water, but snorkelers are usually found where there are minimal waves, warmer water and fascinating things to see near the surface. Its simplicity appeals to all ages.
Snorkelling is considered more a leisure activity than a sport. You only need a mask, a snorkel and just the ability to swim and breathe through the snorkel. However, people are advised to obtain basic instruction to ensure their safety - covering equipment usage, basic safety and what to look for - and receive a brief orientaton from an experienced snorkeler. At popular snorkelling spots, those who rent out the snorkelling gear, tour guides or even a resort-hired instructor usually handle this part. Similar to scuba diving, it is highly recommended that one refrain from snorkelling alone. Swim with a buddy, guide or tour group.
Dangers that threaten snorkelers include small inshore craft such as jet skis or speedboats. Being submerged underwater with only a snorkel tube visible above, snorkelers cannot be seen by these small inshore craft and the chance of an accident is increased. More worrisome are sailboats and windsurfers. Because of their quiet propulsion, snorkelers are advised to wear bright or highly reflective colours/outfits. They should also deploy dive flags to alert boaters and other visitors to their presence.
There is also the danger of exposure to the sun and the possibility of a diver or snorkeler's back becoming badly burned, even though submerged under water. To prevent this, wear an appropriate covering such as a rash guard, t-shirt or even a wetsuit and don't forget sunblock.
Another concern is dehydration, especially if you will be in the water for some time. It is highly recommended to hydrate yourself welll before you start. Proper hydration can also mitigate the risk of cramps.
It is possible to experience hyperventilation which can lead to "shallow water blackout". this is why it is recommended to snorkel with a friend and be alert to your friend's status at all times.
When snorkelling or diving near coral reefs, be aware of the environment. Exercise great care to avoid contact with delicate (and possible sharp) coral and its poisonous ihabitants. Wear protective gloves. Consider booties or surf shoes if you have to trek over reefs at low tide, to drop-offs or to get to the deeper waters of the outer reef.
Finally, understand the importance of conservation (corals and other undersea life are fragile and are easily damaged by divers and snorkelers). Any contact with coral should be avoided because even a soft touch can affect decades of growth and the coral may never recover.
Source: I&P Living leisure