In a previous article, we explored some of the concerns people might have when it comes to scuba diving and how one particular diver managed to overcome those concerns to become a fully-fledged dive instructor.
Scuba diving is an interesting hobby and a very fun sport, but there are a few pieces of equipment that are requisite for the sport of scuba diving. After all the name scuba is an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA).
The air cylinder is perhaps the most crucial piece of scuba equipment as it contains the pressurised air that will allow divers to breathe underwater. Scuba divers use pressureised air because the pressure of the inhaled breath must balance the surrounding or ambient pressure to allow inflation of the lungs. If you are under a metre of water and try breathing through a tube from the surface you will find it extremely difficult to do so!
The second most important piece of equipment is your regulator. The regulator is what scuba divers breathe through when they are underwater. The regulator provides the appropriate breathing gas at ambient pressure and ensures that the diver can breathe naturally and without excessive effort, regardless of depth. The regulator has two stages; the first stage reduces the pressurised air from a high (300 bar) to intermediate (10 bar) pressure and the second stage further reduces the intermediate pressure to ambient pressure for ease of breathing.
Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)
The BCD is an integral part of any scuba diving set up as it allows you to control your buoyancy whilst underwater. This means that you will be able to stay at a certain depth without needing to exert force by kicking with your fins. This will help you conserve energy, use less air and therefore prolong your dive time!
A scuba mask is a specialised piece of equipment designed for scuba diving, made out of tough materials that can withstand the underwater pressure. Scuba masks are usually made of high-quality materials such as tempered glass and silicone. It allows a scuba diver to see clearly whilst underwater. Another important feature of a scuba mask is that it encloses a divers nose, allowing the diver to equalise the pressure in the mask so it doesn’t suction painfully onto their face.
Fins (or flippers) are very important for scuba diving. Strictly speaking, fins are not necessary for scuba diving. However fins allow a scuba diver to move more swiftly and efficiently underwater with the least amount of effort possible. This means using less air, and prolonging dive time!
A wetsuit’s main purpose is to keep the scuba diver warm whilst they are diving. Your body loses heat twenty times faster in water than it does in air, and a wetsuit works to slow or prevent that heat loss. Wetsuits trap a layer of water between your skin and the suit which your body heats up to your body temperature, and the neoprene material of the wetsuit slows heat loss due to its insulating properties. This combination works together to ensure that a diver does not lose too much body heat whilst diving.
Weights are necessary for scuba diving as it counteracts a diver’s natural buoyancy. The gases in your body, your air cylinder and your wetsuit make you buoyant and thus weights are needed to ensure you stay underwater. Weights are usually made from lead as it is a high density material so it can be made into a compact and easy to carry form. They are usually attached to a belt and worn around the waist.