From centuries, humans are always curious about seeing beyond and deep. If it is space, then we want to see beyond stars and if it's ocean then we always want to see what lies within it. Scuba diving is a gateway to the underwater world and enables us to see what we can only imagine being on land. Though considered as a costly and a bit risky sport, scuba diving in present world has become an irresistible activity that everyone wants to experience at least once in a lifetime. The ability to dive underwater and to see those countless flora and fauna in their natural habitat has made scuba diving very popular.
Scuba, which stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, is one of the modes of underwater diving which is completely independent from any kind of gas supply from surface. This gives an advantage to the diver to move freely and to be hassle free. Underwater diving was first used for navy operations; underwater construction and repair works during world war era however with its growing popularity and improvements in design of equipments used, underwater diving is now becoming an essential method for scientific studies, photography and recreation. Presently there are two types of scuba namely open circuit scuba and closed circuit scuba (also called as rebreathers). Open circuit scuba is the most common used for recreational and scientific purposes only which consists of an air cylinder, regulator and buoyancy control decide (BCD). The diver inhales air and exhale in form of gas bubbles which are released in water. In closed circuit, diver exhales in a circuit connected to cylinder from which remaining oxygen is filtered out and again circulated for breathing. The main advantages of closed circuit scuba are that it increases the underwater time for a diver, it prevent bubbles to release in water which can increases in stealth (for military purposes) and diver can go easily till depth of 100 to 120 meters which can never be achieved in an open circuit scuba (maximum 40 meters is advisable in open circuit). The use of rebreathers is now also started for scientific purposes as scientists can go deep and see the hidden world which can never be seen with help of open circuit scuba. Recently many new species have been collected from depth beyond 100 meters.
Diving is a very unique activity in itself but it can be more enjoyable if proper safety methods are applied before, during and after dives. It is a responsibility of diver to check and follow all safety protocols and encourage other divers to do so. The first and foremost rule of diving is to never dive alone. It should be always ensured that a diver should not venture underwater without a dive buddy as the world underwater is completely different from outer world. A diver should always check all the equipments personally before diving to prevent any unwanted accident underwater. A diver should always keep an eye on pressure and depth gauges, surroundings and dive buddies. While filling cylinders, maximum care must be taken as not to fill polluted or intoxicated air. Before entering into water, a diver should check the current pattern in water, waves and weather. Proper washing with fresh water is must for the equipments after diving in salt water as sea water is very corrosive in nature and the salt after drying can jam o rings and buttons. Whether it a recreational dive or scientific dive, proper care must be taken no to touch or disturb any flora and fauna unless and until it is utmost importance and is required to be collected for scientific studies. While diving in reef area, special care should be taken while using fins as just a single fin hit can damage a coral which then require years to grow again. A diver should be attentive and should never touch poisonous animals like stone fishes, lion fishes, some jelly fishes, sea snakes to name a few, although there are many more animals which can cause severe damage to divers. While doing underwater photography and videography, a diver should maintain some distance from subject animals as many animals can attack if they feel danger. A very important rule while diving is to take safety stops while coming up after a dive. Safety stops are essential for preventing formation of gas bubbles in body (decompression sickness) when someone dives to greater depth and it also prevents nitrogen narcosis (anesthetic effect). Decompression sickness, also known as bends occur because of formation of bubbles in body at greater depths and can cause serious damage to joints, heart, lungs and brain. Nitrogen narcosis is like a drunken effect which is felt by diver at greater depths. Both of these problems can be prevented by taking proper safety stops while ascending. However, if proper safety steps are followed and if rules are followed by divers, scuba diving can be a fun activity which cannot be matched with any other activity out there. So as it said, dive safe and dive hard.