- This article refers to underwater diving by humans. For other uses of the term diving, see dive and diving
Underwater diving is the practice of going underwater with or without breathing apparatus.
Recreational diving is a popular activity (also called sports diving or subaquatics). Professional diving (Commercial Diving or Diving for Financial Gain) takes a range of diving activities to the underwater work site.
Levels of training and types of equipment and gases used differ between types of diving.
It is unknown when exactly the sponge became an article of use. In ancient writings Plato and Homerus the sponge is mentioned as an object used for bathing. In Kalymnos also sponge diving had it's roots in ancient times. It can be seen as the oldest profession on the island. Diving for sponges brought social and economical development to the island where the free-diving method was used. The crew went out to sea in a small boat. They used a cilyndrical object with a glass bottom to search the ocean floor for sponges. As soon as one was found, a diver went overboard to get it. He was usually naked and carried a 15 kilogram skandalopetra with him to take him down to the bottom quickly. The diver then cut the sponge loose from the bottom and put a special net around it. Depth and bottom time depended on the divers lung capacity. They usually went down to about 98 feet (about 30 m) for 3 to 5 minutes.
Diving without breathing apparatus
Free diving includes a range of activities from simple breath-hold diving to competitive apnoea
The ability to dive and swim underwater can be a useful emergency skill, and is an important part of watersport and navy safety training. More generally, entering water from a height is an enjoyable leisure activity, as is underwater swimming
with or without breathing apparatus.
The addition of a short breathing tube (snorkel) allows the diver to breathe while remaining immersed, but close to the surface.
Diving with Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA)
Scuba divers are sometimes known as frogmen
, particularly divers engaged on armed forces covert operations.
Breathing systems consist of one or more diving cylinders
containing breathing gas at high pressure connected to a diving regulator
Closed-circuit breathing systems allow recycling of exhaled gases. This reduces the volume of gas used, making a rebreather lighter and more compact than an open-circuit breathing set. Rebreathers also make far fewer bubbles and less noise than open-circuit scuba; this makes them attractive to military, scientific and media divers.
Surface supplied diving
The alternative to scuba is breathing gases supplied via an umbilical
from the surface, often from a diving support vessel
but sometimes, indirectly via a diving bell
. Surface-supplied divers almost always wear diving helmets
or full face diving masks
Saturation diving lets professional divers live and work at depth for days or weeks at a time. This type of diving allows greater economy of work and enhanced safety. After working in the water, divers rest and live in a dry pressurized habitat on or connected to a diving support vessel
, oil platform
or other floating work station, at the same pressure as the work depth. They may be transferred in a diving bell
. Decompression at the end of the dive may take many days.
Basic Dive Training entails the learning of underwater skills and other skills requisite to the successful and safe conduct of activities in an underwater environment such as the buddy system, dive planning, and use of dive tables among others. Also, underwater diving training should come from a qualified diving instructor, to be safe.
Below are some basic underwater skills that a beginner should learn:
- Equalization – this refers to the adjustment the Eustachian tube in the ear needs to do when submerged in the higher pressured environment underwater.
- Underwater breathing – this refers to the skill of breathing through the apparatus. All divers must get used to this way of breathing.
- Mask clearing – This is done to make sure that there will not be anything that will obstruct the diver's view as well as to remove any water that might come into the mask.
- Air sharing – refers to the act of multiple divers sharing one air supply.
- Buoyancy – the right buoyancy allows the diver to move about underwater comfortably. Amount of equipment, buoyancy compensators, and amount of air in the lungs all come to play in maintaining buoyancy. More air in the lungs makes for more buoyancy, while less air makes for less buoyancy.
- Diving signals – diving signals may vary, but its purpose is to be able to communicate with other divers. It should be clear among a group of divers what the diving signals to be used are before the dive.
Diving training can be got from many diving training bodies: see Diver training agency.
Dangers of diving
Other forms of underwater diving
Diving in submersibles
and 'hard' diving suits
enable undersea diving to be carried out within a dry environment at normal atmospheric pressure, albeit more remotely. Underwater robots
and remotely operated vehicles
and also carry out some functions of divers at greater depths and in more dangerous environments.
Diving by other animals
are not the only air-breathing creatures to dive. Marine mammals
such as seals
, dive to feed and catch prey under the sea as do penguins
and many seabirds
, as well as various reptiles
, saltwater crocodiles
and Marine Iguanas
. Many mammals, birds and reptiles also dive in freshwater rivers and lakes.