SCUBA is a great way to access all that the marine world has to offer us land dwellers, but it also comes with some pretty serious rules. These rules are in place because if left unfollowed, they can lead to drastic and debilitating effects on the human body.
Before starting any dive, it's best to be aware of what not to do, according to professionals, before we find ourselves in trouble.
The requirements to dive shouldn't keep anyone from taking lessons - in fact, that's the best way to learn! By following the unspoken law of divers, there shouldn't be any issues to worry about, and beginners will be free to observe all the water holds for them.
For those who have mastered snorkeling and are interested in what lies just below the surface, here are 20 things an instructor will advise against.
20 Leave The Marine Life Alone
It's always important to remember that we're entering the environment of aquatic life, not the other way around. Humans don't own the ocean, which means we don't reserve the right to reach out and touch any species, for any reason, unless otherwise permitted by a scientist or marine life expert.
19 Do Not Touch Any Coral, It Could Destroy A Living Ecosystem
We've seen this with the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, but those massive underwater formations are far more fragile than we realized. Each one of them is a living organism, which is host to another living organism, which, as a whole, is an ecosystem that's used by tons of marine life. Human interaction will only harm them.
18 Buoyancy Can Be A Challenge, Watch Where Those Feet Go
Despite the fact that many divers make the act of diving appear easy, it's not as simple as we see on TV. Until a beginner has a feel for their buoyancy in the water, they should be wary of where they put their arms and legs. In unfamiliar territory, it's easy to brush up against something or crush a fragile coral.
17 Chumming Is Never Okay Outside Of Research
Many think that it's okay to explore with a bit of help - i.e., chumming. This is basically inviting marine life to wherever you are with the use of fish guts or chum, and it's not only unnatural but could also do more harm than good. This can lead to an unpredictable environment and underwater chaos.
16 The Ocean Doesn't Have 'Souvenirs' For Diving, Unless An Instructor Okays It
We've already established that it's never okay to touch anything underwater unless specified by an instructor, and that goes for 'souvenirs', too. Some beginners will think it's okay to bring back a piece of coral, what seems like a rock, or even a living organism like a starfish, but it's never okay to disturb an ecosystem.
15 Under No Circumstances Should Divers Ever Hold Their Breath
In short: This can be fatal. Diving involves dealing with atmospheric pressure changes, which means the oxygen + nitrogen in your tank accounts for those changes. Lungs will expand as a diver (slowly) ascends and compress as they descend, and holding your breath will only hinder the escape of air bubbles via your breath.
14 Ready To End Your Dive? Communication Is Key, Go Up With An Instructor
Ever heard of the Bends? This is what happens when air bubbles become caught inside your bloodstream and joints, and it can be unbelievably painful, leading to severe consequences if left untreated. To avoid this, going up slowly is the key - it's especially important to go up with an instructor, who can guide you along the way.
13 Do Not Use The Inflator Button To Get To The Surface Quicker
For the same reason, going up to fast is a serious no-go when it comes to diving. It can be detrimental to the human body, to say the least, as we're not designed to survive under such pressure. Think of it like hiking Everest - the atmospheric pressure limits oxygen intake and fatigues the body.
12 Unchecked Gear Is An Accident Waiting To Happen
It's one thing to make a mistake while diving, it's another to make a mistake before you even begin diving. Not checking your gear, or asking an instructor to help you check out your gear, is a serious mistake. Accidents can be avoided with a few minutes of double-checking.
11 Personal Limits Should Be Well-Known, Don't Attempt A Tricky Dive
Being underwater is nothing to take lightly, and dive pros are professionals for a reason. Diving is divided into five atmosphere zones, each of which must be accounted for. If a diver isn't conditioned or trained to dive deeper than 1 atmosphere, then they shouldn't be doing it.
10 Want To Dive Further? Get In Shape
Going back to our Everest reference, it's not too far off. Diving does require a certain level of physical fitness, especially for those who plan on diving a little deeper each time. Good lung capacity counts, but so does endurance and the ability to remain calm underwater.
9 All Dives Should Be Planned Out, Not Spontaneous
Spontaneous dives are just asking for trouble, especially if they happen without a professional around. It's important to know your limits, but it's also imperative to your safety (and others) to have a plan - if something goes wrong underwater, you're on your own down there.
8 Follow The Rule Of Thirds
The rule of thirds works like this: By designating a third of your total oxygen for the descent, a third for the exploration, and a third for the ascent, you're less likely to run into a panic problem. It's helpful to set limits and listen to them - don't be distracted by your findings down there.
7 Buddy Systems Aren't Just For Walking Home Late At Night
Some professionals are perfectly capable of diving on their own but for beginners, this is a hard and fast rule. Diving in numbers helps to ensure your safety, but it's also just comforting to have someone by your side in the event that you need help. Don't be arrogant about it just because you know the basics.
6 Vital Skills Are Imperative To Diving Safely
Vital skills extend far beyond the art of diving. These also include things such as first aid and CPR, all of which could be used to save someone's life in the event of an emergency. Smaller things, such as learning how to properly clear a face mask or practicing buoyancy, are also super important.
5 Positive Buoyancy: Establish It At The Surface So You Don't End Up As A Statistic
Roughly 25% of all diver fatalities are due to problems that began on the surface. Positive buoyancy means not overloading your weight limit on the surface, and this helps to prevent diver fatigue and exhaustion from swimming upwards. Don't underestimate the effort it takes to swim back up.
4 Don't Hop On A Plane After Taking A Dive
This doesn't even sound like a good idea, and that's because it's not. Going from a significant depth in the ocean and then going to a significant atmospheric change in the sky could lead to serious issues, none of which can be treated while in the air, mid-flight. Think twice and give your body some time to readjust.
3 Decompression Sickness: From Mild To Severe, What You Should Know
Long story short, nitrogen is absorbed in your blood the more you descend underwater. As you go back up, all of that is turned into air bubbles - if these aren't released correctly and slowly (18-24 hours is recommended), it can lead to dizziness, extreme fatigue, severe headaches, inability to think clearly, and widespread pain.
2 Don't Dive And Drink
Obviously, it's not smart to do while diving, but from a scientific standpoint, alcohol can alter the way that nitrogen bubbles are released from the bloodstream. It can also lead to dehydration, which can also trigger decompression sickness if done right after a dive. When in doubt, stick to water.
1 We Enter Their Home, Not The Other Way Around: Understanding Sharks While Diving
There's a stigma surrounding shark culture (thanks, Shark Week) that they're simply just predators out for human flesh. This is absolutely not the case; if anything, we provoke them by swimming in their territory. In reality, they want nothing to do with us - if you leave them alone, they'll likely do exactly the same.