WHAT IS SCUBA DIVING?
SCUBA is an acronym for “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus”. Scuba diving is a sport that is done underwater. It is done by using a breathing apparatus called a regulator that is connected to a air tank. This breathing system allows the user of it to stay underwater for longer amounts of time than the human lungs will allow. Certain precautions need to be taken to ensure safety, but otherwise scuba diving is more safe than most other sports including soccer, baseball, and tennis. Scuba diving is not a competition sport in that it is not played for competition. Scuba diving is a sport of exploration and excitement. By using the ability to stay underwater for prolonged periods of time, you can explore the wonders of the most uncharted part of earth. Some of the most magnificent and exotic sights are found under the sea. The exhilaration of being in a world that is not naturally the human's habitat is indescribable. The adventure to the depths of the sea is not one to be miss. Scuba diving essentially is swimming underwater while carrying your own supply of breathing air.
The sport of scuba diving is one that can be participated in by almost everyone. The minimum age for training now is ten years old, and there is no maximum age. That’s why there are so many retired people pursuing the sport. It can be done safely and with little effort due to the abundance of resorts available with personnel who are willing to help you with every aspect of your dive. You don’t even have to carry your own equipment.
You must obtain training before you can safely engage in the sport of scuba diving. This training is relatively inexpensive – especially when compared to the cost of other sports. Classes range from $200-300 excluding the cost of any trips to complete training. A normal class consists of several weeks of classes which are held in the classroom and in the swimming pool. In the classroom you learn all the safety aspects which pertain to the sport. In the pool you learn how to safely and competently use the equipment you must wear while diving. Private classes are available for those on a tighter time schedule or for those whose work schedule does not easily allow them to attend regular classes. There are several major scuba diving organization in the world. They are SSI, SDI, PADI and NAUI
After the initial lessons, you must complete 4-6 dives in what is called an “openwater” environment. This basically means that you must swim somewhere outside in an environment which is not so tightly controlled as a swimming pool. For many people in the interior of the United States this training occurs in fresh water lakes or abandoned rock quarries. For those who are fortunate enough to live on the coast (or who choose to complete their training by taking a trip), these final “openwater” dives can be conducted in the ocean.
After you are trained, you receive a card (similar to a driver’s license) which states that you have been trained in the sport of scuba diving. This card can be shown at any dive store or resort in the world, and you will be allowed to purchase equipment, rent equipment, or fill air tanks without problems. Without this card, reputable stores and resorts will not sell or rent anyone life support equipment or provide the person with air. This is a method the industry uses to assure that only trained individuals participate in the sport. Diving can be dangerous when someone who is not trained engages in the activity. There are safety rules taught in class about which the general public is unaware. Breaking these rules can cause serious injury and/or death.
There are many organizations through which you can obtain training. These companies set the standards for the minimum level of education which must be provided during scuba diving classes. In this way the industry polices itself to assure that new divers are properly trained. All instructors work through a certifying organization.
After you have received initial training, you can scuba dive in any country in the world. Any place that has access to either fresh or salt water is considered fair game. Most divers choose to travel to tropical destinations where the water is consistently warm and the climate inductive to outside activities. In these zones you can dive in magnificent colonies of coral which are beautiful beyond description. Diving can be relaxing and almost effortless in many of these areas. The islands in the Caribbean and in the Pacific Ocean are popular sites. However, there are some excellent cold water areas of the world that are well known and frequented by divers. Many divers opt to visit these places because the visibility in these areas is often fantastic, and they contain unusual attractions to view. For instance, the sea on the coast of California is always cool to cold. Yet, if you dive here, you have the opportunity to dive in giant forests of kelp with specialized life forms that live only there (i.e. seals). In the Great Lakes of North America the fresh water has preserved numerous shipwrecks much better than the ocean can. Many divers love to view these sunken ships. Another area of the world which attracts untold divers is the Pacific Ocean near the island of Truk. Here many Japanese ships were sunk during the war. Because these wrecks are often very deep, the water is cold despite the fact that the surface temperature is tropical. These wrecks are very different from those in the fresh water of the Great Lakes. Here the outlines of the wrecks are often difficult to discern in the confusion of sea life which has grown on the ship.
No matter what your reasons for exploring the sport of scuba diving, there is something for you. You can choose to enroll in one or in numerous classes to increase your diving skills. You have a choice of environments to visit, and you will always have a group of fellow divers with whom you can socialize. This aspect of diving is often one of the most pleasant aspects of the sport. The camaraderie encountered in dive trips is unparalleled, and you can meet people from all areas of the world.