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
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
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
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