Scuba diving is one sport which is relatively easy to pick up and even beginners can participate in some dives depending on the location and depth. However, do not be fooled into thinking that this means it is perfectly safe! There are a number of complications that can arise while scuba diving which is why it is important to seek out a professional dive company who will offer you some instruction and look out for your safety if you are not an experienced participant. The majority of issues will occur when a diver goes to deep, so I wanted to take a closer look at just how deep is ‘too deep’ when it comes to scuba diving.
It’s All About Physics
Let’s start by clarifying something – scuba diving is relatively safe, so do not be put off by the risks. Every sporting activity carries some degree of risk. With scuba diving that risk is usually fairly negligible as long as you are following the correct protocols and procedures. It all hinges on physics and divers having respect for its laws!
What we need to remember is that even although we don’t realize it – air has weight. The average weight of air pushing on your body while at sea level is around 14.7 pounds per square inch. If you have ever climbed a mountain you know that at high altitudes there is less air pressure making it difficult to breathe. When you go under water the reverse occurs – the deeper you go the more pressure is placed on your body.
Safe Diving Depths
The majority of professional dive organizations have set a maximum depth limit of 130 feet for scuba divers who have earned their certification and have experience of more advanced dive sites. This covers recreational diving, not technical/professional divers who are able to go further. However, it is worth noting that just because the maximum recommended depth is 130 feet that does not necessarily mean that you should be attempting those depths simply because you are certified. There are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration.
One of the most important things to consider is decompression status. The deeper you dive, the less time you will have to spend under the water. For example, if you are diving to a depth of 40 feet then you will be able to spend a fairly considerable amount of time under the water as long as you have a sufficient air supply. However, by comparison diving to a depth of 130 feet is only going to allow you 10 minutes of exploration before your body begins to accumulate nitrogen. This leaves little time to actually enjoy your dive.
It is also wise to take into account the psychological aspect of taking part in deeper dives. These dives are much more stressful not only physically, but mentally as well. The deeper you go the further you are away from an escape route. You are also going to start noticing your air supply being used more quickly which can cause panic in inexperienced divers. Learning how to cope with these and other stresses comes with experience and the first time you participate in a deeper dive than what you are used to you need to have a qualified guide on hand to assist you. Look for reputable dive tour providers like LivingOceanScuba.com and you can feel safe that you are in capable hands the first time that you dive deeper than usual. You will find that the majority of dives that are offered as part of tours are around the 60-90 foot depthwith beginner’s dives restricted to around 40 feet.
What is The Danger of Diving to Deep?
There are a number of unpleasant side effects associated with diving at deeper sites with varying levels of severity. The most common is barotrauma where the air pocket in the diver’s middle ear is subject to increased pressure. Divers learn to ‘pop’ their ears much like you would on an aircraft to avoid this, but a rapid descent can cause damage.
One of the major risks is decompression sickness, or ‘the bends’ as it is known. This occurs when divers resurface too quickly causing the nitrogen absorbed by the body at deeper levels to create bubbles in the blood stream. This is potentially fatal which is why you should have a qualified guide to help you surface in monitored stages to make sure this does not happen.
Once again, scuba diving is not particularly dangerous when done properly under the supervision of a guide or instructor. These dangers are not at all common and only become a major issue when diving at deeper levels without the necessary preparation.