For many people, the beach is where they go in order to beat that summer heat. Personally, I am more interested in what is beyond the beach in order to avoid the torrential heat. Covered head-to-toe in a 7mm neoprene wetsuit, moving in an awkward shuffle with approximately 30 kilos in weight being lugged on my back, I make for the ocean. Because I am a scuba diver. And I hope through this article I might just be able to convince you to become one too. The world could always do with a few more of us around. So, hear me out as I tell you a bit about what scuba is, why you should dive and some things to keep in mind when you are ready to take the plunge for yourself.
Scuba? I Hardly Know Her!
“Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”, or in Layman’s terms ’scuba’, is a means by which people are able to breathe underwater and interact in person with the otherwise untouchable undersea world. Throughout history, we as a species have been fascinated with the oceans and what lies beneath the seas. This has inspired countless myths and stories like the Kraken, or the lost city of Atlantis. Well, scuba diving allows us to answer that question for ourselves and see it with our own eyes.
Though modern scuba diving only really came about leading up to and after World War 2, attempts to breach the gap between the surface and the things that dwell beneath us stretch back all the way to Ancient Greece. Through technological advancements such as the O-ring and aqualung and various organisations such as BSAC and PADI popping up to train new divers and develop a standard of safety protocols, scuba became more accessible to the wider public as a recreational activity.
A place to be with your thoughts and focus on the world around you…
Though diving is also done beyond recreational purposes, most people will get into diving for this reason, due to it being rather relaxing despite the pressure that’s above you while doing it. With all there is to see underwater, and no possibility of distractions like phones or even other people’s talking, you are given a place to be with your thoughts and focus on the world around you. And with all the emphasis given to focus on taking calm, deep breaths in scuba, it makes me wonder why I would ever choose something like yoga.
A World Under & Above The Sea
Now knowing more about the ‘what’ in relation to scuba, I want to tell you about the ‘why’ you should try it. As with any hobby, your reasons for getting into and liking something are incredibly varied and down to individual preference. I certainly do not see anyone with thalassophobia to hear me explain why scuba is amazing, if they even clicked onto this article at all. But for those of you able to make the step, let me tell you about it.
Life takes on strange shapes and forms underwater
Firstly, and perhaps most obviously is the wildlife. In all its weird and fantastic forms. Though terrestrial plants and animals certainly have their charm, there is something curious about the odd and strange shapes that aquatic life will take. Look no farther than a seahorse and you will understand what I mean. Life takes on strange shapes and forms underwater and getting to experience all of that for yourself with your own two eyes is something you will never forget.
In addition to seeing some unforgettable things, you will also end up meeting people and making friends that will last you a lifetime. Whenever you dive, you are never just diving with people you share nothing in common with, you are diving with people that share your love of the ocean and desire to experience it. In scuba trust is important, yet comes quickly to those that earn it. By working together to ensure the safety of your fellow divers, you earn that trust, and perhaps some lifelong friends along the way.
Now that you have some friends to dive with, maybe you are all feeling a bit tired of the same location you could do with your eyes closed if that were not so boring. Well, you only have anywhere that has a coastline, or sufficiently sized body of water available to you. Granted, some places make better dives sites than others, but be it tropical, temperate, or even cold waters, there is almost certainly a prime dive spot just waiting to be dived. Before you know it you will have an annual tradition to go abroad for a week to somewhere you have never been before just for the sake of getting in a few dives there. Seeing more of the world both under and above the sea.
Stay Calm & Breathe
Now knowing a little of what you are missing out on, I hope you are ready to take the plunge. However, before doing so I want to pass on a few things to remember when it comes to having your first dive. When diving, it is essential to come prepared and I hope that these tips do just that for you.
First is to never hold your breath. When starting off at scuba, the sensation of breathing underwater may feel a bit uncomfortable and your instincts may be telling you to hold your breath and only breathe through your mouthpiece when you need air. When diving you should always remember to breathe as you normally would, as holding your breath at deeper intervals is incredibly dangerous and there is no point in creating problems that could be avoided entirely.
Second is to stay calm. Despite the meditative aspects of scuba diving, it is also possible to become stressed when underwater and become panicked. Panic is one of the worst enemies of any diver, and can quickly put not only yourself, but your fellow divers at risk. If you start feeling stressed or even remotely panicked about anything, simply inform your dive leader, take a few deep breaths and if need be, abort the dive. Safety is one of the utmost priorities of every dive and needs to be respected.
Finally, remember to have fun. You are doing scuba to enjoy yourself, and if you cannot do that, then what is the point really. When done right, there are very few inherent risks in scuba, especially when you start out. It is important that you find the things you like about scuba that give you a reason to keep coming back once you have taken the plunge. Be it the wildlife, companions, locations, or something entirely your own, hold onto it and it most certainly reward you later on. So, why not try scuba diving and make a big splash as you begin your descent into the deep blue sea?
Cover Image: Maël BALLAND
Editor: Alexa Ciociu