Category Archives for "Scuba Diving"

The Essentials of a Good Dive Knife

When is a scuba diving knife a good one? 

There are essential components that may be necessary for most sports and activities. Knowing and preparing these essentials can make the world of differences. Diving is a sport that needs specific gear to create a successful and adventurous experience. 

Whether it feels necessary or not, one essential item is a diving knife. This item can help divers in the best and worst of times and it can provide enhanced confidence, safety, and adventure.

Diving is a complex sport that brings adventure, precision, and skill to an adventurous journey. Whether you are diving in a group, on your own, or if you are going on a deep and professional journey, having a knife can be very helpful. It is suggested to consider bringing this tool to your underwater endeavors if you are considering it. It can make all of the difference and it may make your journey one for the books.

What is a dive knife?

When divers go out into the sea, there are items that help with communication, safety, and for the journey to go smooth. A dive knife is one of those items.

Knives helps divers communicate with each other as they will make a noise when one diver taps on another diver’s tank. This is a simple way of communication while in deep waters.

Yet, these knives can help with any sort of entanglement as well. This basic tool can help divers cut through fish line or any other entanglement they come across within the ocean.

Sometimes, dive knives don't come across as used in the typical form of a knife, but are basic tools for specific help underwater. These tools can come from any material as well, but the most common types of knives are sharp, titanium or even stainless steel, and they usually have a serrated edge.

Details of the Dive Knife

Having a dive knife is very important for diving. Yet, beyond the basic needs of having a dive knife, there are other reasons why a diver should carry this item underwater.

To begin with, dive knives are used for emergencies and should not be used to mess with the underwater world, unless it is needed. These knives can help you get yourself or any friends that are diving with out of sticky situations, such as being stuck in a fishing line or fishing net.

There are other things that can get caught around divers as well, such as large amounts of kelp. If you need to use your knife to help sea animals get free as well, that may be a reason to carry one. Sometimes, the ocean current can be strong and attaching your knife to something underwater can help keep you in place.  As mentioned before, knives can also be used for tank knocking when you are with other divers.

When looking to purchase a knife, there are many kinds. To begin with, you may want to decide the style of knife you want. There is a leaf shaped blade, which is wide and has two convex edges. This knife type also has a sharp edge and is a strong blade.

There is the sheep foot blade, which has a straight cutting edge which is either smooth or serrated, and has a dull tip. There are two other types of knives as well.

There is the drop point, which has a long cutting edge, a strong tip, and curves down a convex blade. There is a clip point knife. This knife type looks like it was clipped at the end, is good for piercing at things, and it is usually used for curved cutting.

Purchasing a Knife

When you purchase a dive knife, you will want to decide what you need it for. From there, you can choose what kind of blade you need. The types of blades, as mentioned before, are the clip point, the sheep foot, the drop point, and the leaf shape. Each one can provide successful help for all divers.

When you are choosing the material your knife will be, it will mainly be based on preference. Stainless steel knives seem to have the best results for all divers, where ceramic and titanium knives, although they are successful, are different.

It is suggested to look at reviews and results, choose what you need, and then proceed forward. Ceramic and titanium knives are said to be more rugged than stainless steel. This does not have to be negative, but it can be simply based off of preference.

There are many things you may need to cut in the ocean, but the number one use for knives in the ocean is for maintaining safety by detangling yourself and others from fish lines, nets, and other things in the ocean. It can also be used for communication and to help you maintain stability when you are in the ocean.

Most divers who don't carry a knife seem to purchase one right after they get in a situation where they need one. Due to this, purchasing a knife and having it available, just for emergencies if anything, is important.


What can you do about Dive Computer Lockouts?

Do you stop your dive if your computer locks you out?

You’re on a diving trip and for whatever reason your dive computer goes into lockout mode and locks you out for a period. What can or should you do now?

What can you do about Dive Computer Lockouts

Why would your dive computer go into lockout mode?

First, there are several reasons your dive computer might go into lockout mode. There are many that are legitimate and a few that are strange. Without first evaluating what caused the lockout, you should probably not assume that the dive computer is wrong and ignore it.

All dive computers rely on their underlying algorithms. These are different between manufacturers and often also between different models of the same manufacturer. The result is a lot of confusion when you dive with a dive buddy that has a scuba computer and you’re ending up getting conflicting advice from your two (or more) devices.

Differences in algorithms

Suunto and Mares for example (and others) use rather conservative algorithms. They might require that you make deep stops or deco stops while an Oceanic or Sheerwater requires none of that. That doesn’t mean that one is right, and the other is wrong. But, it results in situations where diving gets confusing.

An example might be that you have a conservative device while your dive buddy has a more liberal variant. You dive together and your dive computer requires a decompression stop while your dive buddies doesn’t. If you ignore the deco stop your dive computer might go into lockout mode to prevent any potential injuries. And also to prevent any lawsuits against them in case something goes wrong…

Now, back to the problem at hand. If you proceed with the ascent and ignore the required deco stop the algorithm in your scuba computer requires, then it could (will) end up in lockout mode. A (bad) suggestion would be to tie the dive computer to a line and keep it at the required depth for the period of the required deco stop to fool it into thinking you performed the stop. The better suggestion is to follow your dive computer and perform the deco stop. It might annoy your dive buddy but better safe than sorry.

Suunto SME-ML Dive Computer

What can you do?

Back on land you might dig into the manual of your scuba diving computer and see what options you have. Many of the newer models allow to influence the algorithm through conservatism settings. If it’s as simple as adjusting those to reduce the chances of required deco stops then you can do that. You might also want to check your manual for other tips and tricks that relate to your specific dive computer.

But what do you do when your dive computer is in lockout mode? In that case your best choice is to wait out the time. You could dive with your backup dive computer but that would defeat the purpose of having a dive computer to help you stay safe. The same is true if you ignore the lockout and grab your dive tables to go back to calculate your dives yourself.

The story can be different if you were diving with a wrong setup. For example, if you would have forgotten to put the gas mixture to Nitrox and that way the computer calculated wrong based on a wrong assumption. Could you switch to a backup computer and dive again? Possibly you could but you don’t want to do that without doing the calculations upfront to know whether you can or cannot ignore the lockout. Alternatively, you might take the time to read through the manual of your scuba computer and make sure you know how to manipulate the algorithm and settings to make it calculate correctly…

Diver under water with a dive computer - what can you do when your dive computer goes into lockout mode?

Switch to a backup computer?

There are divers that have a backup computer they switch to in cases they don’t agree with the lockout of their main dive computer. While some claim it’s a perfectly fine strategy, we would advise against it.

If your dive computer goes into a lockout, then it does that for a reason. Without understanding that reason, it’s dangerous to simply ignore the lockout and switch to another dive computer. If you analyze why your dive computer has gone into a lockout and you prefer a more lenient algorithm, then it probably is time to buy a dive computer that gives you that leniency. Oceanic has a whole line of different models that will give you that. Other manufacturers do the same.

Otherwise, if you like the dive computer you have and you bought it in the first place to make your diving safer, then there should be no reason you’d want to ignore it when it tries to do just that! Except if it’s broken and provides you with bogus information. You also can dive within the no-decompression limits and avoid any issues that way.

Now to you. How do you handle a lockout for yourself? Do you ignore the advice of your scuba computer and use the backup or do you follow the lockout? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Should you Complete a Safety Stop when you find an Unconscious Diver Underwater?

Ever thought of the answer to this? There’s a lot of different answers you can find online and when chatting with your dive buddies. We tried to  This is by no means meant to be an answer that you always should follow to the ‘T’. Instead, use your common sense and follow your instincts and only do what keeps you safe!

The first reaction will be that you want to do anything to help that other diver. And the knee jerk reaction might be to take the diver and drag him or her to the surface. But, without thinking about your current situation like your depth, how long you’ve been under water, etc. you might put yourself in danger. Therefore, take a deep breath and think through your current situation.

There are a few things to consider should you come into that situation. First and foremost, your own safety and security is of greatest concern. It would help nobody if you end up as the second victim.

Unconscious Diver Under Water

How could you end up in that situation?

All that aside, realistically it’s a scenario that never happens. First of all, neither you nor the unconscious diver should dive alone in the first place. That is if you’re not a rescue diver that is out searching specifically for a missing diver or one that had an accident.

For simplicity, let’s assume you are not such a rescue diver. If you were, you are specifically trained for these situations and certainly wouldn’t need to ask the question in the first place…

For others, it is pretty much common sense. Never do anything that you’re not comfortable doing and that would put you at risk. If you don’t feel that you have the ability to bring the unconscious diver up then don’t try.

What options do you have?

What you always can do is to check the unconscious diver’s air supply. If he or she has air in the tank and is breathing then there might not be an immediate danger for that diver. However, make sure there’s enough air in the other tank or otherwise you can use your octo or, if you have a pony bottle, you can use that.

The thing you always can do is to mark the location with a surface buoy. That way you can make a safe ascent and then get help to get the diver safely to the surface.

Another point to consider is that while you could bring the diver to the surface, what will you do then? If you’re not really close to your dive boat then how will you get the diver to the boat? It’s much easier to figure out a way to drag the weight of a diver underwater compared to on the surface.

You also have to think about that you probably won't be right underneath your dive boat but somewhere away from it as you were in the middle of your dive. When coming to the surface, you will have to assume that the crew is not right there and able to help you simply because you come up at a different location as planned.

In that case you will have to keep the other diver and yourself afloat with all your equipment. You could ditch your gear as well as the other diver's gear but then you end up in another quagmire. If you ditch the bottles then you could have to adjust both BCD's by yourself. Yet, that won't be easy either.

Coming to the surface with an unconscious diver also brings up another problem. How do you help that diver when you're still in the water? If the other diver had a heart attack you'll have a hard time giving CPR as you have no hard surface at that moment anyway. If the diver wakes up during your ascent or when on the surface and starts to thrash around you also might endanger your own well-being.

Ignore your safety stop?

There are opinions that you should ignore your safety stops or even your decompression stops assuming that you can fix any decompression illness when you're on the surface. While there might be some truth to that, you still have to consider that it can very well take a long time to get to the decompression chamber to reverse any ill effects.

In the worst case you can ignore a safety stop. They are what the word says, a safety stop. They are added to your dive to add safety but ignoring it should not put you into any real danger.

Decompression stops are a different story. Ignoring them can put you in danger of decompression sickness which can in the worst case have irreversible if not even fatal consequences. In any case you should check your dive computer and verify that you are safe to go up.

There's no 'one-size-fits-all' answer. You can only do what you are trained to do and what you feel comfortable to do. You should under no circumstances do anything that will put you in danger. It's bad enough to have one victim but it would be worse if there were two.

Now to you – what do you think is the right thing to do? Leave a comment below. We certainly do not pretend to know all the answers and as with everything there’s more than one way to have an answer that is viable and makes sense. Share yours with us the community!

Shallow Diving vs Deep Diving – What are the differences?

Which do you prefer? Deep dive or shallow dive? The answer for most divers would be to instantly go for the deep dive assuming that they are certified to do so. But, what are the differences?

Shallow vs Deep Diving

Most divers would prefer to do a deep dive vs a shallow dive. Yet, there is a ton of marine life you can see on a shallow dive, at times even more than on a deep one. So, why would most divers rather go deep and stay for a shorter time compared to stay shallow and dive longer?

A shallow dive will significantly increase bottom time compared to a deep dive. It also requires less surface time between dives if you stay shallow. Is it bragging rights to dive as deep as possible or is it something else?

Shallow Diving

How deep is deep and when does deep start?

There’s no clearly outlined definition of what a deep dive is. There are some definitions that usually go to the 100 feet (30 meter) mark as a deep dive. PADI defines the deep dive to be between 60 feet and 100 feet.

That’s somewhat the definition for recreational divers. In technical diving that limit is pushed further and you’d typically consider a dive below 200 feet as a ‘deep dive’.

The open water certification goes to depths of 60 feet while the advanced open water goes to 100 feet. That’s where the PADI definition of 60 to 100 feet for a deep dive comes from.

Why go deep?

There are a number of reasons why you would want to dive deep vs staying shallow. First, you will experience different creatures when you dive deeper. Depending on where you dive you might also experience completely different surroundings.

An example would be that you typically find healthier and more vibrant coral reefs at greater depths. The sun exposure and destruction from waste is less when you dive deep. The result is more marine life that you can experience.

Other good reasons for deep dives are for example diving a wreck. You can find them in both shallow and deep waters but if you want to dive a particular wreck you might have to dive deep in order to see the wreck and the life surrounding it.

Deep Diving

Having said that, shallow dives can be equally as spectacular depending on location and sights. You will usually find different sea creatures in shallower dives. You also can stay underwater for much longer periods of time giving you a chance to experience more as you have better visibility. Wrecks in shallow water can be as fascinating as their counterparts in deep water. The same is true for coral reefs!

Shallow dives often result in more marine life to be seen. That simply comes from the fact that you have better visibility at lower depths as you have more light around you. Colors will also be more vibrant on a shallow scuba dive.

Considerations when diving deep

When you do a deep dive then you have to mindful of your bottom time. A shallow dive at 30 to 40 feet limits your dive time pretty much by how much air you have in the tank.

A deep dive requires more planning as there are potential issues with nitrogen absorption into the body as well as increased air consumption overall at depth. Depending on depth, time under water and previous dives you have to consider safety stops and make sure you keep enough air in the tank to stay safe! On top of that you do also have to have an advanced open water certification to dive down to 100 feet.

Which one to pick?

There’s no ‘correct’ answer. It depends on your capabilities, your comfort level and what you want to see and experience. If you want to wreck dive and the wreck is at a depth of 30 feet then you’re doing a shallow dive no matter how much you might want to do a deep one instead.

Never go any deeper than what you’re comfortable with and certified for. If you dive deeper than what you feel you can confidently master then you can easily end up with a panic attack which will result in serious risks to your health! Never go beyond your capabilities.

You can and will see extraordinary sights whether you dive shallow or deep. They will be different but there’s really no ‘one is better than the other’ in this case. Try the different depths and find out what you’re most comfortable with.

The most important thing is to stay safe to and to enjoy your dive no matter the depth you go down to!

An In-Depth Guide To Night Diving

Night diving is a great way to get out and explore the world in an entirely new light. That being said, it does come with its own risks, demands, and methods. You certainly want to be fully prepared for your night diving adventure before dipping your toes in the water.

It helps if you already have experience scuba diving during daylight hours, but that's not exactly mandatory. Following is an in-depth guide to night diving, including some equipment requirements, preparation techniques, and important considerations.

 If the sense of wonder and adventure is what attracted you to diving, then you'll likely love night diving even more. It's a familiar activity and a brand new adventure at the same time. You'll leave the water with some amazing photos and some stories you'll be telling for years to come.

Scuba Diving at Night

A Brief Introduction To Night Diving

Surprisingly, there is a large number of people who have never heard of night diving. Or perhaps they don't realize it's a widely popular activity and not just the same thing during a different time of day. As the name implies, night diving is all about scuba diving at night. By diving at night the entire environment and atmosphere are different. There's often a different variety of animals present as well.

Most people who begin night diving already have plenty of experience diving during the day. Having that previous experience and confidence does help during the nighttime hours when the light is scarce and tension is high. In many cases, those divers have spent countless hours at a certain reef and know how to navigate it backward and forwards.

Even though a diver may be extremely familiar with a particular reef, they soon learn that it is completely different during the nighttime hours. The colors are different, the animals are different, and emotions are different. By diving at night they convert that familiar old reef into a new and exciting adventure.

It's not just the absence of sunlight that makes the experience different. Rather, many forms of marine life behave completely different at night time. For example, even the coral itself will behave differently. Coral polyps open wide at night time to feed on nutrients passing through the water. The polyps are rarely open during the day unless the current is unusually strong. Opened polyps introduce a variety of new colors and shapes into a scene that you may have seen a dozen times before.

The lack of sunlight also has a significant impact on the noticeable colors as you dive. During the day, sunlight begins to be filtered away at around thirty feet. The further you dive the more light you lose and the more certain colors begin to fade. Red is the first of the colors to fade away entirely.

At night; however, the only source of light is coming from you. You are often much closer to objects meaning that the light isn't filtered away before hitting the marine life. Therefore, you can see everything in their true colors. You may see splashes of color that you never knew were there. Colors that were simply impossible to see under the filtered sunlight.

Diving during the day is already an incredible experience. But if you're looking to expand your diving activities with something new, exciting, and a little bit scary, then night diving might be for you.

Recommended Equipment for Night Diving

For the most part, you will use a lot of the same equipment you use for diving during the day. There are a few exceptions and recommendations that are specific to diving at night. You have to consider the obvious change in lighting as well as potential changes in water temperature.

Three Separate Lights

The most important piece of equipment you'll need to purchase for your dives is the torch. This is your only source of light in the dark waters. You will actually want to purchase two torches that you carry on each dive. One serves as a backup torch if the first should fail. Both, the primary and backup torch, need to be fairly powerful. They should emit enough light to help you safely navigate the waters.

It's a good idea to invest in torches that use rechargeable batteries. You can easily burn through a lot of battery power if you find yourself diving every night during a holiday. If your torches ran on standard batteries, then you could wind up paying quite a lot just for batteries alone. Rechargeable batteries are more cost effective and better for the environment.

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There are some organizations that recommend using standard batteries for your backup torch. They claim that standard batteries are more predictable than rechargeable options. This is true to some degree but shouldn't be considered mandatory. Regardless, you should still invest in rechargeable batteries for the main torch.

The third light you'll purchase is used to mark your exit point. Many divers use a strobe light when they are diving from a boat. The light is attached to the boat and helps you find your exit point in dark conditions. This should be a powerful light as well. The last thing you want is to wind up lost while diving in the middle of the night.

It can be a bit more complicated if you're diving from the shore. You may actually need two light sources instead of just one. You can then line up the lights visually to help point you back towards the shore.

Choosing The Right Camera

One of the best parts of night diving is taking a bunch of amazing pictures. The photography available at night is unlike anything you can experience during the day. You'll see marine life that is normally dormant or hidden during the day. The colors are more vibrant and everything looks more impressive. Naturally, you'll want to find a great camera specifically for taking pictures at night.

Cameras designed for nighttime diving generally come with additional lights. The internal flash from the camera isn't strong enough to illuminate the subject matter. Your torch will provide a great deal of ambient light, but an additional strobe light is usually needed to get the best shots.

It's up to you whether or not you want to take the best possible camera gear when night diving. It may be a bit too much to handle if you're still warming up to the idea of night diving in general. You can always try night diving with a simple camera at first to see if you really like it. Once you've decided you're ready, then you can invest in a better camera rig to capture some of those amazing moments.

Preparing for Your First Night Dive

There are several routes of preparation you can take for your first night dive. Your first step should be to get some experience diving during the daytime. Sure, it may not sound quite as fun, but it's important that you understand the fundamentals of diving during the day before jumping into the water at night. Night diving is like a more complicated version of daytime diving.

Perhaps the best method of preparation is to enroll in a training course. Many of the same organizations that offer daytime diving courses also offer training courses for nighttime diving. You may be familiar with some of the agencies, including the SDI, SSI, and PADI. Each of these offers training courses for night diving that will teach you what to bring, how to breathe properly, how to communicate, and how to navigate the waters at night time. Those courses also have the advantage of letting you experience your first few night dives with a trained professional.

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For many divers, mental preparation is important as well. They may love the idea of diving at night, but actually bringing themselves to dive into the dark water can be a bit intimidating and stressful. There are many divers who decide at the last moment they can't handle it. You can avoid this by preparing yourself mentally for what's to come.

Training and experience help with mental preparation to some degree as well. If you already have experience night diving with a trained professional, then you will feel more relaxed and confident when it's time to do it by yourself. Likewise, if you've dived in that area during the day, then you'll feel more prepared during the night.

It's also a good idea to fully prepare with a pre-dive briefing with your fellow divers. Make sure that everyone understands what forms of communication will be used and what certain signals mean. You want everyone to be on the same page when it comes to communication.

Night Diving Considerations

Most agree that the best time to start a night dive is just as the sun is setting. You can fully prepare on the boat while the sun is still in the sky and dive into the water just as it is fading over the horizon. You'll get to witness firsthand many of the changes that take place underwater as the sun goes down. And there are quite a few of those changes, both with plant life and with the animals.

Use your torch as a tool to attract marine life to certain areas. It's a great way to see what all is around you. It's also great for setting up photo opportunities. For example, if you point your torch up toward the surface of the water it will attract several small fish. Those small fish then attract the larger fish to the area. If you were to point the light down toward the bottom, then it would more likely attract a squid or octopus.

Night waters are filled with amazing creatures that are usually hidden during the day. Or there are some like the plankton that are there during the day, but you just can't see them. At night, you will be able to notice the bio-luminescent effect of the plankton. As the plankton come into contact with your body they will emit a bright glow for a moment. And if you wave your arms you can see hundreds of them illuminate all around you. It's a visually impressive spectacle that you'll want to experience your first time in the water at night.

Some of the marine life you are likely to encounter at night would be intimidating during the day, but are more so during the night. Large sharks and manta rays that weigh more than a ton are known to become more active during the night. It can create some amazing memories as well as photo opportunities if you are willing to get close enough to take the picture.

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Is Night Diving For You?

If the sense of wonder and adventure is what attracted you to diving, then you'll likely love night diving even more. It's a familiar activity and a brand new adventure at the same time. You'll leave the water with some amazing photos and some stories you'll be telling for years to come.

Difference between Freediving, Skindiving and Snorkeling

At first glance, free diving and snorkeling may seem more alike than scuba diving. After all, they can be done without the use of a breathing apparatus and don’t require any special certification. So what really is the difference between the two?

While both sports have their own awesome advantages, it’s important to know the differences between the two before you go out and stock up on gear. Here’s an in-depth look at both snorkeling and freediving.


One of the greatest things about snorkeling is that it takes very little background and only a few pieces of equipment to get started. At the very least, if you’ve got a mask, a clear day, and some time on your hands, you’re ready to start exploring. Of course, there are a few ways to make your experience even better, so here are the basics of snorkeling.

The Equipment. Because snorkeling is such a low-maintenance activity, there’s not a lot of training that you can do to improve your experience. The equipment you choose, on the other hand, can make your time in the water more enjoyable.

Your first upgrade: your mask. You may think that it’s good enough to just borrow a mask from a friend, but in the case that it doesn’t fit, you’ll probably find yourself adjusting and readjusting when you should be focusing on that gorgeous reef. It’s no use to save the money on buying a mask when your snorkeling experience gets ruined by a leaky mask.

Seaview 180 Degree Full Face Snorkel Mask

Instead, take the time to find a mask that actually fits you. Whether you want a mask with two lenses or just one doesn’t really matter, but how the skirt (or the soft silicone that covers your nose and cheeks) forms to your face does. The first thing to look out for is whether the mask stays on your face without you having to hold it. If it stays, that’s a good sign.

Next is to test the skirt. Although it may seem silly, the best way to do this is to test how the mask will fit when you have the snorkel in your mouth (or, in other words, when your facial muscles are activated). Since you don’t want to be putting your mouth on the snorkels in the store, it might be a good idea to borrow a friend’s. When you’re trying on different masks, you want something that forms tightly to your nose and doesn’t allow any air to escape when you try blowing out through your nose.

Since a few years you can also get full-face snorkel masks. These do not just cover your eyes and nose but your whole face. This has tremendous advantages for snorkeling as you can breathe both through your nose and your mouth. These masks have the snorkel integrated and usually they have dry snorkels. That way you won’t swallow any water by accident!

So now that you have your perfect mask, it’s time to consider fins. The best model for snorkeling on the market these days are the standard scuba fins or the travel snorkeling fins. The latter are short enough to allow for small, versatile movements around shallow underwater landscapes, and allow for easy maneuverability getting in and out the boat or walking up onto the shore.

Pro-tips. After you’ve purchased the right gear, here are a few extra bits of knowledge that will make snorkeling really enjoyable.

Sunscreen. Since this sport requires you to be relatively close to the surface, you really need to protect your skin.

Don’t lose yourself, completely. It can be easy to allow yourself to drift off and forget about where you’re headed. Every once in a while, you need to reorient yourself and make sure you haven’t strayed too far from your boat or snorkeling buddies.


Skin diving is a term that’s not used much anymore. It is basically snorkeling where you dive down while you hold your breath to have a closer look at aquatic life.

The purpose is not to dive as deep as possible but to go as deep as necessary to get a better view of life underwater. It somewhat is a mix of snorkeling and freediving with the difference that you dive down at times while typically moving around snorkeling on the top of the water.

As it is part of snorkeling, it does not require a scuba tank or a wetsuit. The fins used are typically snorkeling fins. The snorkel is used when snorkeling and you want to use a dry snorkel to prevent yourself from sucking in water through the snorkel when diving down. Skin divers do certainly also wear masks.

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The masks is where it becomes interesting though. Traditional snorkeling masks are basically the same as scuba dive masks. They have a low volume which makes it pretty easy to dive down. The newer full face snorkel masks unfortunately have usually pretty high volume and as such make it hard to nearly impossible to dive down. At least it’s not easy to dive anymore with such a snorkel mask that covers the whole face.

The lines between snorkeling, skin diving and freediving are somewhat blurry. Most people that go snorkeling will automatically skin dive when they see something of interest inn the water underneath them. Yet most will not dive down into the depths that require or define freediving.


Although the differences in gear for freediving and snorkeling are only slight, they are completely separate sports. Whereas snorkeling is all about exploring the water calmly, freediving is not a passive activity.

So what exactly is it? Freediving is diving without the use of a breathing apparatus. As a freediver, you rely only on your equipment, your strong swimming ability, and your capacity to hold your breath underwater. Generally, your dive is only going to last three to four minutes, but that can be enough time to explore depths that you never would have imagine possible without scuba gear.

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But while some see this sport as dangerous, freediving truly allows you to cultivate a different relationship with life underwater, one built on endurance and excitement. It also fosters a respect for this challenging environment and an appreciation for its beauty.

Equipment. If we encouraged you to find a good fitting mask for snorkeling, we’re going to take it a step further and insist that your mask is perfect for freediving. With only a few minutes under water, you do not want to be dealing with a leak or fogging issue.

Another key distinction between snorkeling and freediving is the length of the fin. Freediving fins are very long and stiff so that your kick is powerful and energy efficient.

Cressi Sub Gara 2000 HF Free Diving Fins

One last thing that you may want to invest in would be diving weights. You’re going to want to calculate the amount of weight that is appropriate for your skill level and the depth that you’re able to reach.

Training. There are many aspects to freediving training that will make you a successful diver. On the one hand, you must be in optimal physical shape. This means endurance training, nutrition, flexibility, and strength.

You’ll also need to train your body to become accustomed to the depths that you’ll be diving. One of the most important things that you must gauge is how adept your body is at equalizing your ears, because you cannot push yourself beyond this limit.

Another important part of training will be to exercise without access to air. This is not only difficult but inherently panic-inducing. Relaxation exercises are key to successful freediving.

What will you choose?

Despite the fact that neither snorkeling nor freediving use a breathing apparatus, the two activities could not be more different. Whereas snorkeling is for a tranquil day of taking in the sights, freediving is much more about endurance and adrenaline.

While both are highly enjoyable, you’ll have to choose for yourself which activity is right for you. With either one, you’re sure to have a great underwater experience!


Informational Guide on Ice Diving

Diving into a body of water during the peak of summer is one thing but what about doing it during the heart of winter?

Ice diving has become an intriguing option for divers and thrill-seekers aiming to understand the nuances of ice-cold water. Once the temperature drops, it becomes ripe for ice diving and this information guide is going to touch on the intricacies of it.

Ice Diving

Let's take a look at what lies ahead for those thinking of diving beneath a thick layer of ice for the first time.

What Is Ice Diving?

1) Definition of Ice Diving

Ice diving refers to the act of diving under a thick layer of ice. In general, a "dive site" is an area that allows divers to head underwater to take a look at what lies beneath. Of course, in the summer months, the dive site is left fully exposed and doesn't have a barrier to entry. However, once the cold wintry months start to approach, a layer of ice starts to develop on the surface as water begins to freeze. It's at this point when ice diving becomes a possibility based on where the broken layers are available.

Please note, ice diving is not the same as cold water diving and shouldn't be confused for it. Cold water diving refers to diving done when the temperature is low and the water is jittery cold but doesn't have a top layer of ice. Ice diving requires the top layer of ice to be present.

In general, ice starts to develop once the temperature drops well below zero and the water temperatures cool down to around 40 degrees F or so. In most cases, this is the bare minimum and the water temperature starts to fall well below this number in places such as Antarctica.

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2) Who Does It?

Let's move onto the next part of this question and that's who would take the time to go ice diving?

Ice diving is an intriguing activity because it's ideal for divers who want to experience something new and get a look at a dive site from a different perspective. The water tends to reveal different nuances when it has a frozen layer of ice making it a unique experience. Many researchers tend to head into these areas in order to get a deeper look into what transpires beneath the thick layer of ice. Most divers will go as a team (2-4 members) to make sure everyone is safe. With the four-member team, only one diver is supposed to "dive" and the others act as support actors in making sure the initial diver is safe from start to finish.

Ice diving is often seen as a moment to try something new and get a look at animals in their natural environment during a period most never do see them. It's one thing to see a penguin on TV and another to see them live in action as they spend time in their natural frozen habitat.

What Gear Do You Need?

Ice diving is heavily reliant on the gear being used more than any other form of diving. This has a lot to do with the weather, water conditions, and how cold it can get as you dive deeper into the water. For those who are prepping for a dive, it is time to look at the gear necessary for the adventure. 

1) Drysuit

A drysuit involves thick material used to maintain body temperature and ensure the skin is protected.

The type of drysuit being invested into doesn't matter as long as the basics are maintained. It should be durable, thick, and easy to wear otherwise it might get in the way of your diving experience. To maximize the dry suit, it's best to focus on using wool as a layer under the dry suit along with wool socks. This will give it the added value needed to stay safe and warm under the ice.

In some cases, it is possible to buy thick undergarments customized for ice diving but these are unnecessary in most cases.

2) Dry/Neoprene Gloves

To go along with the drysuit, it's highly recommended to buy neoprene gloves.

These gloves are designed to handle low temperatures and are going to ensure the fingers don't go numb as soon as you hit the water. It's better to seek specialized dry gloves for the task but neoprene gloves are often used as a solution because they're budget-friendly.

In general, both will work well under the ice.

3) Full-Face Mask

How is the face going to be protected when you go ice diving?

To protect the face, it is best to look at a full-face mask. The full-face mask is designed to eliminate skin exposure but this is a personal preference. It is ideal to stay as protected as possible and learn how to dive with the full-face mask in place.

It keeps the skin protected and ensures the ice-cold water doesn't touch it at any point of your diving session.

4) Neoprene Hood

Along with the gloves and mask, it is important to look at a dry hood or a neoprene hood.

The hood is going to protect the top of your head and the back of your neck. It shouldn't get in the way of your dry seals and that is the most important requirement. If it doesn't get in the way, it will be easier to dive and move your head around from side to side.

Some divers prefer to go with the dry hood since it isn't tucked-in like the neoprene hood. This is a personal choice.

Divers are always told to practice with their equipment in a simulated session to get a gist of what they are going to face. This can make it easier to manage movement and not feel congested when it comes to the diving session. Being able to move is essential especially when the temperature drops.

How Do You Penetrate The Ice?

Let's move onto learning how to penetrate the ice for a successful ice diving session.

1) Snow Shovel

The first step to penetrate through is to shovel the snow.

In most areas, the snow is going to act as a top layer for the ice and has to be cleared off so you can gain access. To do this, get a couple of snow shovels and start clearing out the top layer as soon as possible. This is going to make it easier to saw through the ice.

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2) Chainsaw

The hole is going to be made with the help of a chainsaw.

The goal is to find a spot that is ideal for diving and isn't going to close up quickly. This is done with the help of a chainsaw or an ice saw.

3) Teammates

Yes, this is just as important as anything else for an ice diver.

Having teammates is the only way to make sure the entry and exit are smooth. It is easy to get trapped beneath the ice for those who don't go in with 2-4 team members. The teammates are supposed to keep an eye out for new developments and act as a support system for the original diver and his or her dive buddy.

These are key requirements for those who are going to be entering the water. Penetrating the ice is all about finding a good dive site, clearing out the snow, and making a noteworthy entry hole to get into the water.

Other Considerations

There are additional considerations to make before moving forward with an ice diving session.

These considerations involve your safety and how you approach the task to make sure it doesn't lead to issues in the water.

1) Safety

Let's start with safety because it's important to prepare well in advance.

Set up a plan and make sure it is targeting the right dive site. You want to go to an area that is well within the required temperature limit (40 degrees F (1-2 C)). It is also recommended to reduce the amount of time being spent in the water because of how cold it can get.

In general, the average dive session ends up being 30 minutes but it is best to reduce this to 15 minutes when the water is cold.

2) No Solo Sessions

Never consider ice diving on your own even if you have experience.

Ice diving has to be done with at least another ​dive buddy to make sure you're safe from start to finish. There are several indicators of a potential hazard when you have a partner that can't be seen when you're on your own. Go with those who do have experience and it'll be easier to dive in.

3) Cameras

Thinking about taking pictures when you are underwater?

There are divers who may be intrigued by the notion and want to take a few snaps while they are diving in. This is possible as long as the equipment is protected and there is light coming in from the hole. Otherwise, it will be dark underneath and that has to be accounted for.

4) Certificates

It is recommended to go ahead and receive an ice diving certificate from a certified association.

They will have instructors who are going to put you through simulated runs as a way to help understand what a diving session is going to entail. It can be a great experience on its own and can help you learn in the long-term.

Why Should You Try Ice Diving?

Ice diving is a unique look into the world of animals most people don't get to see on a day-to-day basis.

Being able to spot a leopard seal in its natural habitat is one of those experiences that is impossible to match. It's also an experience most people don't get to have. In fact, many professional divers don't get to have this experience.

It is also great for those who want to go somewhere nearby as there are cold regions on the planet ideal for ice diving. Look for one of these dive sites and plan a trip out for a quick diving session. It can be a great way to have fun and build memories that last a lifetime.

Another benefit most people don't realize is the value of seeing animals clearly in colder water. The particles start moving slowly and that can make it easier to use external light to spot animals. These same animals would be difficult to spot in warmer conditions if you were to come in the summer.

New Camera Housing Options from Ikelite

Ikelite has announced a host of new housing options for entry-level DSLR cameras at the end of January 2018. If you are looking for a reliable casing for your Canon EOS 77D which is also known as the 9000D or the EOS Rebel T7i which is also sometimes referred to as the 800D then Ikelite just introduced two new housing options for you.

Ikelite DL200 Camera Housing

These new housing options offer a reliable way to pack your DSLR and bring it down onto a dive with you. They are rated waterproof down to 200’ (60 meters). Instead of having to deal with multiple cameras (waterproof vs. not) so you can shoot some pictures during a dive, you can get a reliable case and use your best camera to make photos underwater that allow you to remember your dive adventures for the years to come!

Both new housing options for your DSLR’s contain a lot of features that will make it both safe to use your camera underwater as well as make it easy to do so. Ikelite produced high quality underwater housings for a variety of DSLR cameras. Do not make the mistake to compare these top-of-the-line devices with the cheap cases you can find for a GoPro camera though!

Ikelite underwater housings are capable (through optional accessories) to fit different lenses you can attach to your camera body. These lens ports are designed to keep your camera dry and to keep droplets away. Highest quality glass is used to ensure best pictures when you photograph underwater.

Additionally, you have a clever system with the housings where you can produce vacuum inside the housing to verify that it is tight. This feature is extremely useful considering that you place a rather expensive camera inside that will definitely break if exposed to the surrounding water during a dive!

Consider using a quality housing system for your DSLR when diving. Ikelite has a large selection of different housings for different cameras. Check out the different versions for yourself!

Scuba Diving Without Certifications

Can you dive without being certified?

Every dive boat you get on it seems there is that person with a story about how they dove without a certification. Their friend, or a friend of a friend, took them out, and they went diving. These stories may seem like they are a little far-fetched, but many people dive without a certification.

Scuba Diving Without Certifications

There are inherent risks when you do any activity that requires a license or certification. Usually, the training required to get the certificate pertains to vital safety information. For many licenses, there is also legal information you have to learn about the sport you will take part in.

Diving does not differ from any other sport that requires a certification. In your training course, you learn life-saving information about diving and equipment maintenance. With all of this in mind, let’s look at some reasons you would dive without a certification, the legality, and how you can make uncertified dives safer.

Is It Legal To Dive Without A Dive License?

There are no laws regarding the licensing or certifying of divers in the United States. Diving is an unregulated sport. Some areas may prevent all diving if they are protected wildlife areas. Other areas require that you have a dive flag up when there are divers in the water.

Training in a pool to get certified as a diver

Guided Dives

Most dive trips and dive boats will not allow you to dive uncertified if you are on your own. There are many dive shops that will teach an intro to scuba class that allows an uncertified diver to go into the open water and try out scuba diving. Most certifying agencies like PADI even have courses designed to let people try out scuba without paying for a certification.

They do these guided dives in shallow waters to minimize the risk of expansion injuries and BENDS. Many protocols for introductory dives do not have divers descending more than 1 atmosphere (about 15 feet). This minimizes the pressure you put on your body and the chance that an unskilled diver will damage their ears or lungs by not breathing.

Gear Rentals Without Certifications

Every dive shop I have ever rented any gear from has wanted to see my dive certification first. This included when I solely checked out air tanks. Even if you purchase your own gear to dive, you will have a hard time getting air tanks without a diving license. The legal liability of sending someone into the water with no proof they know what they are doing is just too risky for dive shops.

Many dive shops will not rent scuba gear without certifications

Why Should You Get Certified To Dive?

There are plenty of reasons you should get your diving certification before diving. A few of these reasons include knowing the physics of expansion injuries and how to prevent them. In addition to being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of decompression sickness, you learn things like buoyancy control in an open water scuba class.

Learning Basic Equipment Maintenance

In an open water scuba certification class, you’ll learn things like basic equipment maintenance. It is very important to recognize good scuba gear from bad scuba gear. When scuba diving you are in an enclosed environment you cannot breathe in. Having faulty gear can lead to a deadly scuba diving trip.

Learning how to attach the regulator to an air tank can ensure that you know your equipment is properly set up. Besides knowing how to set up your equipment, you will learn what to do in case something happens to your scuba gear when you are under the water. There’s nothing scarier than having your regulator fail or your air tank suddenly go empty because of a faulty pressure gauge. Knowing what to do in case of this type of emergency is a prime example of why you should take a scuba certification class.

Checking and maintaining dive equipment

You Will Qualify for Dive Insurance

The Diver’s Alert Network (DAN), is an independent agency dedicated to helping divers in emergency situations. The Diver’s Alert Network teaches divers how to recognize expansion injuries and signs of decompression sickness. Besides that, they have physicians on standby that will interface with emergency personnel if you ever get injured while diving.

Another great thing that DAN offers is dive insurance. This is a special medical insurance that covers any expenses related to diving. Diving injuries often require expensive treatments and interventions. A life-flight to a hyperbaric chamber alone can be a bankruptcy causing event. People with insurance from DAN need not worry about any costs associated with dive related injuries and treatment.

Diving without being certified

You Will Learn How to Control Your Buoyancy

When you watch videos or see pictures of people diving it looks like they are floating seamlessly through the water. An unskilled or unpracticed diver may think buoyancy is something that happens naturally. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true.

Learning buoyancy control is one of the essential parts of getting a dive certification. Poor buoyancy control is one of the leading causes of decompression sickness and expansion injuries. The inability to maintain a constant depth can lead to injuries that may be life threatening.

You’ll Learn Your ABCs

Any certified diver knows the ABCs of diving. There are certain pre-dive checklists you must go through every time to make sure your gear is functioning properly. The ABCs checklist allows you to test your equipment easily.

Besides learning how to do a pre-dive inspection of your equipment, you learn many other important scuba diving basics. These are things you will not get from uncertified diving. Knowing how to dive and dive safely will make diving an enjoyable experience. No one wants their fun and exciting dive trip to end with the hospital visit. Getting your diving certification can help make sure that you don’t end your vacation in a hyperbaric chamber.

It will be up to you and your choice whether you dive uncertified. Uncertified diving is not illegal, and if you have the equipment, there’s nothing to stop you. Certified divers worldwide will recommend that you get your diving certification before you get into the water.

Learning your ABCs

How can you get certified?

There are several scuba dive training agencies with the best known being PADI. These agencies offer trainings and curriculum for various levels of scuba diving.

In the early days each of these agencies came up with their own curriculum and training. In the meantime the divers have put enough pressure on these agencies to come up with common standards for the basic certifications. These entry level programs therefore are very similar no matter which agency you get your certification from.

The goal of each of these agencies is to teach a new diver to become a proficient diver that obeys the laws and understands the dangers and how to prepare for dives. The guidelines allow enough leniency for the teacher to include specific local dive conditions.

What is the basic scuba certification?

The most basic course is usually called Open Water Diver. It consists of three different parts.

  1. Academics
    In this part the future certified diver learns the theory on diving. It includes procedures and rules to regulate scuba diving. This part can either be online or in a classroom.
  2. Confined Water
    This part covers practice sessions in a pool. You learn the different parts of scuba gear and how to use it.
  3. Open Water
    In this part you undertake a number of supervised dives. You have to show that you have the skills necessary to dive in open waters.

How long does it take to get certified?

There’s no set time for how long it takes to get Open Water certified. Some training centers offer courses that you can take during a vacation trip and you get certified within a few days.

Self-paced training can take longer and it’s up to you on how long it will take. There should be no reason though to need longer than a few months to wrap everything up if you get certified in a local dive center which has gear, pool and open water available to train and certify you.

How expensive is it to get certified?

There’s no specific number that we can give. It depends on where you’re taking the certification, etc. Even within the U.S. the cost can vary dramatically.

The cheapest (and fastest) usually is to do it during a vacation. Dive centers in those vacation locations offer quick courses and certifications and will often charge on the lower end as they are associated with the resorts you stay in.

If you want to get your certification locally then reach out to the different dive centers in or close to your location and find out what the cost is. You will have to estimate a couple of hundred dollars as the minimum.

In addition to the training course fees you will also have to add any rental equipment you might require as well as fees for the tests, etc. When all is said and done you should end up with a few hundred dollars to get certified. The more gear you own and bring the cheaper it can and will get.

Is the certification good for life?

Yes, it is and if you dive regularly then you won’t have to think about getting ever recertified or taking a refresher course. If you have not gone diving for a while then you should consider taking a review class. It’s technically not needed but it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not rusty when you get back underwater.

However, you want to consider taking regular refresher courses anyway. The gear and equipment changes, rules and regulations might be adapted and having a refresher course will make sure you stay up-to-date.

The best and safest is to dive regularly. Keep diving and continue your training to stay current with latest changes. This will ensure you enjoy your dives and stay safe.


What is Nitrogen Narcosis?

In your training you undoubtedly have heard of all the things that can go wrong underwater - think decompression illness, oxygen toxicity, and the like. And these are important concepts to be aware of because you’re not always going to be diving in the comfort of a training pool.

Of course, with proper planning and a good dive buddy, the risk of something going awry during your dive is low.  But in order to have total peace of mind, it’s a good idea to be well-informed. In this guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about one such underwater risk: nitrogen narcosis.

What is Nitrogen Narcosis

What is nitrogen narcosis, in a nutshell?

Put simply, our bodies cannot withstand large doses of nitrogen. When too much of this gas enters our bloodstream, we experience symptoms of narcosis: confusion, incoherent speech, inability to make rational decisions, and mood changes.

Many divers compare it to alcohol intoxication, in which a person may either be a happy drunk or a mean one. In fact, this process is often referred to unofficially as Martini’s Law, because descending to 30 feet causes similar effects as would drinking a martini. And while drinking one alcoholic beverage generally wouldn’t impair you, it’s important to identify more severe cases. Just like you wouldn’t let your friend get behind the wheel after three drinks, you need to make sure that your buddies are not in danger during the dive.

Let’s get more technical

How does nitrogen narcosis happen on a molecular level? Well, it all goes back to Dalton’s Law of partial pressure. Surely, you have heard it all before, but this is the law stating that the total pressure of the gases in your tank is equal to the sum of the pressures of each individual gas. What this means in the diving world is that as pressure increases upon descent, partial pressures also increase.

And when you’re exposed to this increase in nitrogen, more of the gas enters your bloodstream, which will start to affect your central nervous system. In the best case scenario, you can recognize the symptoms and take precautions. In the worst case scenario, divers can lose function completely, and drown.

When exactly does it happen?

Because of Dalton’s Law, exposure to dangerous levels of nitrogen is going to depend on the mixture that’s in your tank. If you’re breathing air, most commonly used in recreational dives, the percentage of nitrogen will be 79%. With this mixture, you might start to feel the effects of nitrogen narcosis around 100 feet, although it will be very mild. Things start to get more severe, though, around 140 feet, which is the depth limit for recreational dives. Anything beyond that is highly discouraged if you’re breathing air.

Of course, divers do exceed this limit all the time, using different mixtures. Nitrox, for instance, has a lower percentage of nitrogen and allows divers to descend deeper while avoiding nitrogen narcosis. Heliox is another mixture that circumnavigates this problem by using gases that have no narcotic effect. That said, the use of these mixtures requires special training. They are generally reserved for more experienced or professional divers.

Other factors

You’ll notice that we’ve used phrases like “around” when it comes to naming a specific depth for narcosis to set in. That’s because every person and every dive is a little bit different. Unfortunately, the field of diving is lacking a lot of scientific answers about what contributes to narcosis, but there are a few factors that have been shown to make divers more susceptible to narcosis. Here are a few of the circumstances that will increase your likelihood of getting “narced,”

Cold temperatures - although it’s not entirely clear why this is, cold body temperature tends to increase the risk of narcosis.

Alcohol - if there’s one thing that every experienced diver can stress, it’s that you should never risk ruining your dive by consuming alcohol before going underwater.

Other drugs, even motion sickness pills - unfortunately, narcosis increases when nitrogen mixes with other substances. If you have to take something before your dive, just make sure that your dive buddy is aware and able to pay closer attention to signs of narcosis.

High levels of carbon dioxide - if you find yourself breathing more heavily, either from exertion or a problem with your equipment, you are once again more at risk for narcosis

How can you avoid it?

When you sit down to plan out your dive with your buddy, you should be calculating your maximum depth based on everything that we’ve covered so far: the gas mixture in your tank, the temperature, your previous experience with nitrogen tolerance, etc.

Because you’ve taken into consideration everything that could make you susceptible to narcosis, the best way to avoid it is to stick to the dive plan. A mistake that some divers make is to change the plan slightly when they’re underwater because they feel fine. What’s important to remember, though, is that just like your decision-making skills can become impaired with alcohol, you may not be making the best choices when you’re ingesting nitrogen. On the other hand, the dive plans were written out when you were clear-headed, so you know that you can depend on them to keep you safe. 

Another way to avoid nitrogen narcosis, which we’ve touched on earlier in this article, is to use a different gas mixture. There are plenty of certification classes that you can take to become familiar with mixtures like Nitrox and Heliox, which will allow you dive deeper without the threat of narcosis.

What should you do if you recognize it in your buddy

Clearly, it’s important to be able to identify the signs of narcosis in your buddy. That said, since everyone reacts a little differently, your buddy might not have all the symptoms. A good rule of thumb is that if you start to notice your buddy acting different than normal, you should always play it safe.

Ascending even ten feet can alleviate nitrogen narcosis, and you’ll start to see your buddy return to a normal state. If the symptoms are severe, however, it’s your responsibility to get your buddy to safety. It’s much better to abort the dive early and try again than to deal with a more serious case of narcosis.

And there you have it

Everything you need to know about nitrogen narcosis. While it is a serious issue, we hope that this guide has taken away some of the unknown so that you can be fully informed when you dive.