Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses a scuba set ("scuba" originally being an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) to breathe underwater for recreation, commercial or industrial reasons. Using a cylinder of compressed gas to breathe (usually air, but sometimes other gases), scuba divers can stay underwater longer.
Scuba diving gives you the joy of floating inside the sea like a fish. In addition, there is the sheer thrill of watching the rich flora and fauna of the sea in their natural. The underwater city is a unique and diverse collection of colorful and weirdly patterned sea animals. Corals take pride of place in these reef cities. Scuba diving offer a fascinating world of under-water marine life, varieties of colorful fish, rare coral reefs, mysterious remains of sunken ships, etc
Specially devised for the deep sea diver, the Scuba gear gives an opportunity for thrill and adventure unparalleled and unimagined. You can scuba dive anywhere you can find water. Over two-thirds of the planet is covered by water, so you can dive almost anywhere.
Scuba Diving in India
The Indian coastline spread over thousands of kilometers spans the mighty waters of the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. There are wide diving possibilities with the finest beaches, mangroves, backwater, and jewel-like island groups dotting the coastline. India is fast becoming a popular scuba diving destination in the world with the Andamans, Lakshadweep Islands, Goa and Karnataka turning out to be scuba diving hot-spots.
The Process of Scuba Diving
The whole process has only 4-5 basic steps to be followed:
- Check that all your underwater gears are in the proper condition.
- Get into your diving gears starting with the facemask to the fins.
- The nose will have to be blocked by the divers to enable them to 'pop' their ears, which help clear the pressure from your ears.
- The next step is to load weights into your belts to take you down. You can now get into your jacket with the gas cylinders.
- After you are through, this is the time go down in the sea. Also don't forget to look for your support line attached to you.
How safe is scuba diving depends on how responsible the scuba diver is. What makes scuba diving seem riskier than other sports is the fear associated with drowning and the nervousness using a scuba system as "life support". Many people are afraid of water, afraid of sharks, afraid of relying on a strange contraption of hoses and tanks to provide air in an airless environment.
Diving is dangerous if you are not properly qualified or ignore the rules. On the other hand, if you are properly qualified, follow all the basic rules and act responsibly, it is much safer than trying to cross the street. Responsible associations like PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) recommend a complete training and certification before diving in open water rather than merely a short training session and then being accompanied by a scuba chaperone.
Human errors are the cause of most diving accidents than due to attack by marine animals. Still it is incumbent for you to be aware of the kind of marine life you would be encountering in the area you want to dive in and whether they are dangerous. It is best not to provoke and to ask for immediate medical attention if bitten by any animal.
Pre-requisites to getting underwater
Children as young at 8 years old can start diving with programs taught in the safety of shallow water and aimed specifically at young children. From the age of 10 years old children can be certified as Junior Open Water Divers and those 15 years and older can be certified as Open Water Divers. There are no upper age limits.
- Keep yourself safe from sharks, octopus or jellyfish. Try not to provoke them. When in any problem, ask for immediate medical attention
- Please make sure that you are not damaging the underwater sea environment by destroying the marine life.
There are certain things that one should take into consideration before going underwater:
Before going underwater:
- Ensure reasonable degree of physical fitness
- You will also need to be able to swim and float or tread water.
- Always heed to the advice of an instructor or expert and preferably take lessons.
- If you area first timer, a wet suit might be necessary to prevent losing body heat too quickly.
- Keep an eye out for the weather and any turbulence in the sea.
- Double check to see if Scuba Equipment is functional.
- Preferably have a diving partner.
- Even if a passion for adventure goads them to, people with cardiac ailment, pregnant women and blood pressure patients should refrain from indulging in scuba diving.
Most clubs hold classes for beginners throughout the year. Trained instructors are available for guiding the tourists and also casual skiers. Good quality equipment is available with the diving clubs and is generally included in the dive package. Diving centers are geared to cater to beginners as well as offers CMAS and PADI courses by certified divers. They also offer underwater photography courses. Typical Scuba stay may vary from 1 week to 4 weeks.
Levels of difficulty for scuba diving vary from the person who enjoys it as a recreation to the one who takes it as profession. You can start on the experience level and go up in the ladder from there. Next on the list will be scuba diver certificate, which will make you eligible to go on the next scuba diving under the supervision of a master diver.
Equipment Checklist for Divers
Here is a list of all the basic equipment you're likely to encounter when you start diving.
- Alternate Air Source - It’s a backup second stage regulator and is used in the unlikely event that your primary fails or your dive buddy needs to share air.
- BCD - Buoyancy Control Device is the jacket worn by scuba divers.
- Booties - Neoprene boots with open heeled fins to keep the feet warm and are also used to protect the feet, particularly when shore diving.
- Compass - Handy navigational tool. Can be attached to gauge consoles, worn separately on the wrist, attached to the band of a watch or dive computer
- Cylinder - Commonly called a tank and is used for carrying compressed breathing gas (usually air). Made of aluminum or steel and available in various sizes with the most common size being 90 cubic feet / 12 liters.
- Depth Gauge - Used to indicate your depth (in feet or meters)
- Dive Computer - The most basic dive computers will tell you your depth and dive time but it is also common for dive computers to calculate no-decompression limits over multiple dives. Many newer dive computers will also track air consumption and temperature and some even have built-in electronic compasses. Dive computers are commonly found attached to gauge consoles or worn on the wrist like a watch and can now be found built into masks.
- Dive Knife -Helps to free yourself from entanglement, particularly from fishing line and is preferably not used as a weapon. Can be kept in the BCD or strapped to a leg.
- Fins - Long flat rubber or plastic extensions worn on the feet that allow you to swim with much greater ease and speed. Major varieties of fins are full-foot (which cover the foot like a shoe and are most commonly used in warm tropical water) and open-heeled (which have a strap across the back and are worn with booties to allow the feet more warmth and comfort)
- Hood - A neoprene cap that is worn over the head to keep it warm and can be thought of as an extension of the wetsuit. Generally used in colder waters.
- Mask - Contains a tempered glass and allows unobstructed vision underwater.
- Regulator - Used to breathe the air from the cylinder.
- Slate - Is basically used to communicate by writing underwater, taking notes, or drawing.
- Snorkel - Plastic tube attached to the mask that allows you to breathe while you're swimming on the surface. It’s a good way to conserve the air in your cylinder while swimming on the surface. Additional features include purge valves and splash guards (to make it hard for water to splash in the top).
- Submersible Pressure Gauge - Tells how much air is left in the tank. Air pressure is measured in PSI or bar.
- Weight System - Needed to help sink in water. The two common weight systems are the Weight Belt and Integrated Weights
- Wetsuit - Neoprene suits used to keep the diver warm. Available in many sizes from one millimeter to seven millimeters or more, with the most common sizes being 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm.
Cost of Activity
While light and fun diving can cost you anywhere between 1000 and 3500 Rs., Adventure diving and open water diving with certification cards and equipment rental can cost somewhere between 8,000 and 15,000 Rs.
Scuba Diving Destinations in IndiaAndaman and Nicobar Islands
Tourists can scuba dive at the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Carbyn's Cove Tourism Complex, Havelock and other islands on all days from dawn to dusk depending on the weather.
- Havelock Island (Andaman Islands)
Havelock Island is 38 kms from Portblair and accessible by a Govt. Boat that runs daily. Havelock Island is surrounded by numerous sites that are explored by scuba divers. There are numerous Dive centres there on the Radhanagar Beach as well as Vijaynagar Beach that will help guests explore various areas around the Island.
- Agatti, Bangaram and Kadmat Islands (Lakshadweep)
They have Scuba diving centres and accommodation option. Airport at Agatti gets about 9 Indian and Kingfisher flights. The flights have baggage restrictions (15 kg per seat) and therefore guests cannot bring their own scuba equipment. There are fixed schedule Ships from Cochin during Oct-May period which takes about 22-28 hours depending which island you are going to. Agatti and Bangaram are better accessed by flight whereas other islands are accessed by Ship.Goa
Grande Island and Sao Jorge Island host a variety of dive sites from calm, sandy bays to pretty coral fields, exciting shipwrecks to challenging pinnacles.
Popular Dive Sites include:
- Suzy's Wreck Depth: 2-13 Meters Level: All
- Sail Rock Depth: 8-24 Meters Level:
- Davy Jones Locker Depth: 11-18 Meters Level: Advanced
- Umma Gumma Reef Depth: 6-12 Meters Level: All Levels
- Lobster Avenue Depth: 2-10 Meters Level: All Levels
- Shelter Cove Depth: 2-10 Meters Level: All Levels
- The Jetty Depth: 2-10 Meters Level: All
Coastal Karnataka, as beautiful above as below the sea. Sweeping valleys and verdant forests, palm fringed backwaters and secluded beaches, ancient cultures and exotic cuisine. Blended together with sparkling azure waters and an underwater wonderland, you have the perfect ingredients for a truly memorable holiday experience.
Popular Dive Sites include:
- Grand Central Station Depth: 6-25 Meters
Level: All Levels
- Jenny's Aquarium Depth: 6-15 Meters
Level: All Levels
- Dini's Delight And The Abyss Depth: 8-35 Meters Level:
- The Nursery Depth: 6-10
Meters Level: All Levels