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Why Diving? The Top 7 Reasons For Becoming a SCUBA Diver

By Sarah BergesonPublished February 6, 2017

Are you for scuba? Instructor Brooke checks with her student on a descent line.

Are you for scuba? Instructor Brooke checks with her student on a descent line.

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Did you know that the ocean covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface?  That means that most human beings only see about 1/3 of what this amazing world has to offer.  Not interested in the math?  Here are some of our favorite reasons for becoming a SCUBA diver:

  1. No phones, emails, or presidential debates.  For the most part, diving is serene.  You will hear yourself breathing, fish eating coral, and the occasional noise-maker from your dive buddy trying to get your attention (hopefully to point out something incredible), but not much else.  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  Ohmmmmmmm.
  2. You don’t qualify for the astronaut academy and are tired of gravity.  Don’t give up on your dream of weightlessness!  SCUBA diving is a great way to experience neutral buoyancy (the sweet spot between sinking and floating).  If whales can do it, so can you!
  3. Non-verbal communication.  At a lame party?  The hand signal for “Follow me to the exit” will save you and your dive buddy from getting stuck talking to a vegan cross-fitter who teaches yoga and grows their own kale.
  4. Better selfies.  Manta rays, sharks and whales live in the ocean along with thousands of other incredible critters.  And you can dive with them.  And take photos.
  5. Learn what a “Big Mac” is called in other countries.  You can dive in almost any body of water.  Lakes, quarries, rivers, oceans, and even swimming pools if you just need to blow bubbles.  SCUBA diving is recognized world-wide!
  6. Learn something new while swimming through something old.  There are thousands of wrecked ships and planes from human history that can only be seen underwater.  With a wreck specialty certification you can learn how to safely navigate these sunken treasures.
  7. You can do it instead of learning how to play Bridge.  As long as you’re in good cardiac and pulmonary health, you can dive!  Your certification never expires, though a tune-up is suggested after 6 months to a year of diving inactivity to refresh your safety skills.

In all seriousness, there are so many reasons to become a diver.  If you still aren’t convinced, here are some others:

  1. Endemic species.  Many of the best dive locations are known to be the best dive locations because they have something you won’t find in any other body of water.
  2. Travel.  Get that passport ready!  In addition to discovering new dive locations, you can learn about the different cultures around the world.
  3. It’s relaxing.  For the most part, diving is an extremely relaxing sport.  All you need to do is descend into the blue and the fish will take it from there.  You could spend hours in 1 spot just watching how the critters make a living underwater.
  4. Members only.  Join the other 2.5 million people in the world with an active SCUBA diving certification.  It’s a great conversation piece and an easy ice-breaker when meeting other divers.
  5. “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”.  -Jacques Cousteau.  If you don’t know anything about him, do yourself a favor and start looking up all of the incredible things he did for diving and marine conservation.  He is truly an inspiration to all of us!

Best Fishes!

Common Misconceptions of Nitrox (Enriched Air)

By Sarah BergesonPublished February 3, 2017

The label on a tank of enriched air showing the blend and max depth.

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After getting their Open Water Certification, a lot of divers choose to continue their education by acquiring an Enriched Air Diver certification.  Though there are a lot of benefits to diving with nitrox, there are a lot of common misconceptions tied to the alternative gas blend.  For safety reasons, it’s really important to understand the difference between a tank of 21% O2 and a tank with a higher percentage.  A specialty course is offered to divers who want to use enriched air, and no diver should dive with enriched air without proper instruction.

Misconception #1) Your air consumption will improve if you dive with nitrox.  You will hear many certifying agencies talk about how they can dive longer with nitrox.  This does not mean that their tank lasts longer because they are diving with nitrox opposed to a 21% O2 gas blend.  What they mean by “dive longer” is that they can stay at depth longer than someone diving with 21% O2 before flirting with no decompression time.  100% oxygen is toxic after around 10 feet so a higher percentage of oxygen does limit the depth you can safely go.  However, a higher percentage of O2 allows you to stay at a safe depth longer than someone diving on air before having to proceed to a shallower depth due to no decompression times.

To simplify, if you were able to monitor 2 identical divers at equal depths and one diver was breathing off of a tank with 21% O2 and the other was breathing off of a tank with 32% O2, they would run out of air at the exact same time.

Misconception #2) You won’t get “narked” by diving nitrox.  The term “narked” is a slang term referring to nitrogen narcosis.  Defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a state of euphoria and confusion similar to that of alcohol intoxication which occurs when nitrogen in normal air enters the bloodstream at increased pressure (as in deep-water diving) —called also rapture of the deep”, it’s not only the amount of nitrogen present in the bloodstream that causes some divers to get “narked”.    As we learned in misconception #1, oxygen is also toxic at depth so a more accurate term would be to call it “gas narcosis”.

Misconception #3) As a nitrox diver, you are able to use any available tank on the boat.  Each tank must be analyzed by the diver using the tank to verify the % listed on the sticker is in fact the % indicated on the tank.  The % in the tank will determine your maximum operating depth.  Without knowing the % blend, you cannot know the MOD (maximum operating depth) for a safe dive.  Most tanks are assigned to divers prior to departure based on the list of passengers and the groups the Divemasters have assigned them to.  If you have a nitrox certification be sure to coordinate with your dive shop prior to your arrival.

There are many benefits of diving with nitrox.  Diving with nitrox means your body absorbs less nitrogen on a dive than someone who is diving with a standard air tank with 21% O2.  You’ll have less nitrogen to off-gas during your surface interval so you can get back into the water sooner than someone who is not diving with nitrox.  This can be especially beneficial on live-aboards or other dive vacations where you’re doing several dives a day.

Whether you choose to dive with “voo-doo gas” or a standard tank of air, be sure you follow the suggested recreational dive limits and maximum operating depths for each tank to help avoid any potentially dangerous side effects.

Best Fishes!