Thanks to cable networks like the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, most people are now well acquainted with the other world that exists beneath the waves. I’m sure a lot of people have seen divers who seemingly risk life and limb to observe the creatures of the deep or to survey coral reefs. Though the idea of having a person submerged and sustained at the depth of a hundred feet or so is still fathomable (pun intended) for most people, scuba diving is still pretty much a very foreign concept to most.
I don’t think the debate lies in what is to be seen underwater. Anyone who has seen a documentary shot under water would agree that the potential attractions are absolutely amazing and exhilarating. It’s a truly rewarding and fulfilling experience. The novelty of being one of the few people who could witness such a sight is also a good feeling. Such a circus has been going on for millions of years and we’re only starting to scratch the surface at just how diverse and vibrant the Earth’s marine life is. The reward is certainly there for the taking, but why are so few people taking the plunge? (pun intended)
It’s understandable that most people would be mortified at the thought of being in an unfamiliar and uncontrolled environment for extended periods of time. On dry land, we breathe almost effortlessly and in virtually all environments we may find ourselves in, the air is abundant. Running out of air never crosses our minds while our feet are firmly planted on good, hard earth.
Obviously, everything changes once one subjects himself to the actual conditions involved in scuba diving. All of a sudden, you are a small dot in a vast expanse of a seemingly endless body of water. Upon committing to the depths and choosing to venture into the unknown, you realize that escape is not going to be easy. Your ears hurt as you forget to equalize pressures before you feel the strain on your tympanic membrane. You’re definitely going somewhere man isn’t usually seen, you’re definitely sensing the changes in pressure and there isn’t a shortage of horror stories involving sharks, sting rays and other deadly sea creatures to scare you out of your wits. The first few paragraphs of this article crystallize the fears and apprehensions of people about scuba diving. These fears may be justified to a certain degree, but would-be divers are properly briefed and trained before going to the actual dive itself. Rigorous pool training and class room lectures have been included in the teaching curriculum of refutable diving institutions like PADI and NAUI to ensure that the divers would know what to do in just about every possibility.
What should you do if water gets into your mask while you’re under 60 feet of water?
What happens if you run out of air? Is there a way to share air with your buddy?
In case of an animal attack, what should be one’s course of action?
Virtually every expected dilemma is tackled during the training program and for good measure, those that can be tested in a swimming pool are also rehearsed repeatedly to make the would-be divers confident for their first dive out in open water.
Both PADI and NAUI offer a good number of courses that could be of use for a beginner, intermediate or expert diver. There are programs for those who want to specialize in wreck, ice, drift or nitrox diving. There are also courses devoted to conservation, safety, and even photography.
I know this is a very general primer about scuba diving but I do hope this has piqued your interest about the sport as I plan to write a follow-up article on scuba diving in the near future.