A few nights ago I was chatting with my dad about my new scuba equipment, explaining the purpose of the variety of pieces needed to scuba dive, when he commented about how he was completely unaware of the existence of a secondary regulator (breathing apparatus) that all divers carry. This “2nd Stage” is usually bright yellow and is used if your companion (or buddy) has any issues with their air whilst diving, you can share your tank and surface safely with the use of this apparatus. Dad then recommended that I write a post about these sort of facts. I did a little research into frequently asked questions that most non-divers ask, so I hope that I can educate everyone a little in the complexity, and simplicity of diving. I have picked out a few questions that people have asked me before and shall answer them here.
Is it hard to learn to scuba dive?
Scuba diving is one of the easiest active recreational activities to learn! When you’re submerged, you only need to focus on three things; floating, kicking, and breathing. If you want to become a qualified diver then you also have to become proficient at using the equipment and developing knowledge of scuba concepts and safety procedures, but these tasks are far from complex and are made clear and easy to memorise.
The equipment may seem intimidating at first, but learning to use it is straightforward. The scuba unit consists of an air cylinder containing compressed breathing gas, buoyancy compensator (BC) jacket to help you float on the surface and maintain your desired depth underwater, and a regulator for you to breathe through. The exposure protection (wetsuit or drysuit) keeps you warm when diving in cool-water environments. If you’ve snorkelled, you’re already familiar with the mask, snorkel and fins that make up the final pieces of basic gear. Equipment-related skills are drilled in a closed-water environment until you feel comfortable, then tested under supervision in an open-water environment.
Am I too old/young to learn?
Scuba diving is a truly nondiscriminatory activity. Anyone with the physical ability to handle the equipment and the emotional maturity to comprehend the rules and take responsibility for his or her safety and that of his dive buddy, can scuba dive safely and enjoyably.
There is no upper age limit, though certain conditions may preclude those of any age from diving, temporarily or permanently, especially conditions associated with lung functions or anything that may impair your ability to perform effectively underwater. As long as you maintain relatively good physical and mental conditioning, it’s never too late to learn scuba. Many divers continue into their 70's and 80's!
Minimum age restrictions do apply, though some programmes do allow enthusiastic children of as young as 8 to dive under strict supervision and depths not exceeding 6 feet. In general, children must be between 10-12 years old to become “junior divers” who then can dive in limited depths and with supervision of a scuba professional. At 15, students can receive the same qualification as an adult diver.
Handicapped individuals can also participate in diving activities with the help of specially trained buddies!
What about sharks?
Of the almost 400 species of sharks inhabiting our oceans, only a handful are known to be aggressive toward man; none of these are typically encountered by divers. Despite their position at the top of the ocean’s food chain, sharks’ reaction to a diver’s presence in their domain is commonly one of disinterest. Half of shark attacks are to surfers, whose appearance on the water’s surface approximates that of seals or sea lions, a major food source for some species.
Movies such as “Jaws” helped create a disproportionate response to sharks, and their attitude towards humans. In fact, in 2018, there was only 66 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide! No matter how many that is, in comparison to the total human population, the hysteria in response to these events is ridiculous. For most divers, shark encounters are desired. No injuries to participants have been reported in several years of shark feeding, and the educational value of observing sharks up close helps spread the truth: Sharks are an indispensable part of the ocean’s natural balance.
The fact is that sharks are in far more danger from humans than we are from them! It’s estimated that up to 100 million sharks are killed each year as by-catch to commercial fishing activities as well as for disproved medicinal remedies and shark fin soup. Several species are actually in danger of becoming extinct — an eventuality that would have serious, irreversible ecological consequences. It is ridiculous that sharks have now survived 5 major extinction events, but not humanity’s own fear and greed.
Next week; What’s happening? General updates.