The fascination of human beings with the mysteries underneath the ocean has always led them below the ocean’s surface since ancient times, albeit for small time frames. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that some basic gears were invented that man could spend some considerable time under water and explore. Since then the technology has come a long way and the scuba diving has emerged as one of the major adventure sports and recreational activity in recent times. From exploring underwater marine life to scientific research and also in the field of military activities, scuba diving is gaining a lot of popularity with each passing day. As an adventure sport, diving to explore the submerged wrecks of old ships in the ocean has become a very popular activity amongst a lot of adventurers.
What Does SCUBA Mean?
In case you are not aware, the term scuba is abbreviated from “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus”. A professional scuba diver usually wears a specially made wetsuit along with fins to help him move inside the water. The scuba equipment consists of a tank which carries compressed ait which helps the diver to breathe underwater. The air from this tank flows in the diver through a regulator which brings down the pressure of the air and also has a valve which controls the air flow as the diver inhales and exhales. The capacity of the air tank depends on the length of the dive and gives the diver complete freedom to move underwater for a specified period of time.
Types of Scuba
There are basically two types of scuba diving systems which are open -circuit and closed –circuit systems respectively. In the first style, the diver exhales his air into the water which rises up as bubbles. In the closed circuit system, the exhaled air is recycled through a rebreather unit resulting in longer time spent underwater with relatively smaller capacity air cylinders. The closed cycle system is more silent and prone to less bubble formation and hence it has found more use among the military for operating in secrecy and among marine scientists who need to study ocean life without disturbing them. In some cases, divers also use a snorkel to breathe when they are close to the water surface.
Exploring the Unknown
Though scuba diving is a potentially risky adventure sport, the lovers of adventure are ready to take this to new levels and that is why diving into shipwrecks or wreck diving has gained much popularity. Some sites containing aircraft that crashed into the ocean also offer spots for wreck diving. These wrecks offer the divers a rich experience of diving as well as exploring the history of the ship and at times its archaeological importance. In many cases, old shipwrecks attract a variety of ocean life making it an interesting zone to observe the same. I am sure that all of you have read about treasure hunting in old shipwrecks or watched movies about that. Such dives are not very common but ancient shipwrecks can offer various old objects which can have high monetary value in the current market.
A Glimpse into the Past
Other than the above reasons, diving into the deep to explore an unknown vessel also adds a new sense of thrill and challenge which forms a major point of attraction for many experienced divers. Exploring the unknown corners of an underwater shipwreck, to find insight into its past and into the reason for the overall tragedy forms a major reason for wreck diving. The exploration of such vessels may provide important points to enrich the maritime history of various ages and countries. There are many popular wreck diving sites around the world. Some of the most popular ones are the Yongala in Australia, Thistlegorm in the Red Sea, President Coolidge in Vanuatu and many others.
Types of Wreck Diving
Wreck diving can be both recreational and technical depending on the type of dive and the risks associated with it. It is basically classified into three forms. The first category is the non-penetration dives which basically means swimming over the wreck and is mostly done for recreational purposes. The second category is penetration within the “light zone”. This involves penetrating the wreck but staying close to an exit point and within the sources of light. This involves more risk as one gets into the old structure and cannot rise up directly in case of an emergency. The last category is going beyond the light zone and undertaking full penetration scuba diving. This is the riskiest category where one can risk getting lost inside the wreck or get trapped in a dark zone in case of light failures. Any malfunction in the breathing apparatus on this level can be very dangerous as there is no direct way to rise to the surface.
The Risk Factors
It Needs Caution
Wreck diving is a specialized adventure sport as it involves various risks. The set of dangers includes general ones as well as site-specific ones which need special instructions, instruments as well as guidance. Many of the best wreck diving sites are located deep under the sea which requires deep diving techniques and procedures and also knowledge about ocean currents.
So wreck diving is not just ordinary scuba diving as it involves not only precautions but also a responsibility towards the wreck and the marine life associated with it. Making one’s way through a fragile environment with causing any disturbance to it requires skills and experience. The wreck divers usually carry a few essential pieces of equipment along with a dive knife and dive light with backup units.
One major factor while wreck diving is to be alert about the air tank capacity and maintaining sufficient reserve air for a safe rise to the surface. The divers who dive a wreck are also taught special swimming and fin movement methods so as not to disturb the deposition of silt inside the wreck. Any accidental movement disturbing the silt may result in total loss of visibility and such a situation as known as “silt-out”.
There is also a guideline which is tied to a part of the wreck to help the drivers in finding their way. It is also a fact that drivers prefer to go for shipwrecks located in deeper parts of the ocean as such wrecks are better preserved which can lead to multiple additional challenges. Due to the multiple safety factors involved there are quite a few professional institutes which provide wreck diving courses to adventure lovers.
Unless you want to dive on the wreck of Titanic, recreational wreck diving can be an amazing experience and when done with the right precautions is not as risky as it seems. In fact, the number of deaths per year due to road accidents is many times more than that due to scuba diving. So this sport can be your chance to explore a new world and if you are planning to visit a wreck, it will give you a glimpse into a forgotten era. Since this is a specialized sport, you need the best pieces of equipment to move ahead in those depths. So we will bring to you some of the reviews of the pieces of equipment that you can get your hand on, before going for a dive.