Secrets to Saving Air
by Selene Yeager
Do you consistently run through your gas supply faster than other divers on the boat? Do you frequently have to end the dive before the rest of the group? What's going on? And what can you do about it?
First, you can stop beating yourself up over it. People are different. Those with slower metabolisms will--other factors being equal--use less oxygen. Small divers have to use less energy than big ones to swim forward, so they also use less oxygen. Nature doesn't distribute her gifts equally, and you may never be the stingiest sipper of gas on the boat.
On the other hand, most of us can reduce our gas consumption and thereby extend our dives. We can be better, even if we can't be the best. Typically, divers waste air in one or more of these three ways:
By leaking it before it gets to their lungs, thanks to free-flowing octos and worn out O-rings.
By using more energy than necessary. Using energy means using air, because oxygen is necessary to burn the calories that make energy. Every bit of unnecessary exertion costs you psi.
By getting less than maximum benefit from each breath. When divers breathe inefficiently, they exchange less oxygen for carbon dioxide with each breath, so they need to take another breath sooner.
Here are 18 tank-stretchers to try, starting with the obvious first step.
Fix the Small Leaks
Even a tiny stream of bubbles from an O-ring or an inflator swivel adds up over 40 minutes, and may be a sign of more serious trouble ahead anyway. You don't think you have leaks? Do you have eyes in the back of your head? Ask your buddy to look behind you to be sure. A mask that doesn't seal is another kind of leak in that you have to constantly blow air into it to clear out the water. It's also a source of stress, which needlessly elevates your breathing rate and thereby reduces your breathing efficiency. Does your octo free-flow easily? That can dump a lot of air quickly. Detune it or mount it carefully so the mouthpiece points downward.
Inexperienced divers are famous for burning through their air supply at a furious rate. The reason is anxiety. A new diver is understandably nervous, and his body's automatic response to danger is to raise his metabolism, his heart rate and his breathing rate. It's hard-wired, the body revving its engine to be ready for fight or flight, though the result is a lot of air cycled through his lungs but never used, just dumped into the ocean.
You may not be a new diver, but unless you dive almost every week it's still an unnatural activity, and your body isn't as happy as you are about putting its head under water. Dive more--your body will get used to the idea, and you'll breathe less.
Take a Class
Any class, almost, will reduce your gas consumption just by making you feel more accomplished and therefore more comfortable. But the best bet is probably a class to improve your weighting and buoyancy control. When you get that dialed in, you can control your altitude mostly with your lungs, so you're not squirting that valuable gas into your BC and then venting it to the ocean. Most important, you can now forget (nearly) about the mechanics of diving, drift like a fish, and relax.
Sleep More, Party Less
Be well rested on dive day. Fatigue is stress. If you start the dive already tired, your body has to work harder to overcome the extra burden, so you breathe harder. A hangover is stress too. You may think you're sober in the morning, but in fact alcohol and other drugs affect your physiology the next day. As SSI instructor Jim Bruning puts it, "Your body does what your mind tells it to. If you had a good night of sleep, your body and mind are going to be much more relaxed, much calmer."
If you're late to the boat, running to get your gear on board, worried about the hard looks of divers who were on time, stuck with the least-convenient gear station and generally playing catch-up all day, you're giving yourself unnecessary fatigue and mental stress. You start the day breathing hard and never have a chance to calm down. On the other hand, if you're early to the boat, early to gear up and early to the dive briefing, you'll conserve your energy, feel confident and relaxed, and your breathing will remain slower.
The energy cost of speed is even more than you might think because it's an exponential function proportional to the square of the speed. So swimming twice as fast requires four times as much energy and air. But the reverse is true, too: Swim half as fast as you do now, and you'll use only one-fourth as much air.
It's physics again. Because your regulator has to deliver air at the same pressure as the water, a lungful at 33 feet (two atmospheres) takes twice as much out of your tank as does the same breath at the surface. At 99 feet (four atmospheres) it takes twice as much as at 33 feet.
There's absolutely nothing you can do about that except to avoid being deeper than you have to be. If you're making a transit over an uninteresting sand flat to get to the edge of the drop-off, do it at 15 feet instead of at 40 feet, and you'll save air.
Minimize the Lead
If you're overweighted, you have to put more air into your BC to float it and be neutral. The inflated BC is larger and requires more energy and oxygen to push it through the water.
An extra eight pounds of lead means your BC is one gallon bigger when inflated enough to make you neutral. Imagine the extra effort of having to push a gallon-sized water jug through the water.
Adjust Your Trim
If your body is horizontal in the water, when you swim forward, your legs and fins will pass through the "hole" in the water made by your head and shoulders. You'll disturb less water and expend less energy and air.
Many divers, however, swim with their feet lower than their torso and their head higher. Adjust your trim by moving some lead from your hips to your back--to trim pockets on your BC or to your tank.
Seek Neutral Buoyancy
Always being exactly neutral is the key. If you're not, if you're slightly heavy or light, you're constantly using fin power (and air) to maintain a constant depth. If you're not neutral, you can't glide between fin strokes and you can't hang effortlessly.
Streamline Your Gear
All fast-swimming fish have smooth skins with few or no protuberances. That minimizes drag so they can swim with the least energy and oxygen consumption. Divers, by contrast, have rough, convoluted surfaces with all sorts of attachments from scuba tanks to whistles. Anything disturbing the flow of water past your body creates drag and wastes air.
Do your best to imitate the fish. If you don't need a light on this dive, for example, don't take it. If you do need something, try to hide it in a pocket instead of dangling it from a D-ring. Take the snorkel off your mask and strap it to your leg or tuck it under your BC or get a folding snorkel that fits into a pocket. Shorten hoses that are too long. Clip your console close to your body. Suit your gear to conditions: You don't need the bulk of a BC with 40 pounds of lift in the tropics.
Streamline Your Movements
Keep your arms close to your body. Straighten your legs and keep them as close together as your fins will allow. Kick with short strokes so your fins stay within the slipstream of your body. Some fins do require a wider stroke so you have to compromise between efficient propulsion and streamlining. But usually you're better off finning faster instead of wider.
Any oxygen taken from your tank but not absorbed into your bloodstream is wasted. That's the case when you take short, shallow breaths. A large part of the air you take in fills your throat and bronchia, but doesn't reach your lungs before it is expelled again. You have to take another shallow breath sooner because you didn't get much benefit from the first one, and a lot of air is wasted.
Instead, try to inhale deeply, filling your lungs completely with each breath. A deeper breath brings air to more of your lungs' tiny "air sacs" (the alveoli) where gas exchange takes place. It also adds more fresh air to the volume of "dead air" that remains in your lungs, throat and mouth from the previous breath, so the mix is richer. When more alveoli are more fully inflated with fresher air, gas exchange is more efficient: More oxygen is extracted from the incoming air and more carbon dioxide is released. Although each breath uses more air, you will take fewer breaths, and the net effect will be that less air is used. Short, shallow breaths are more frequent and less efficient.
Exhale fully too, so you expel as much carbon dioxide as possible. Anything not exhaled is carbon-dioxide-heavy "dead" air. On your next inhale, that dead air — instead of fresh air--partially fills your lungs. The urge to take the next breath is triggered not by lack of oxygen but by excess of carbon dioxide, so you find yourself inhaling again sooner. On the other hand, a deep exhale extends the time before you feel the need for another breath.
You consume considerable energy just by breathing, by sucking the air in and pushing it out again. To inhale, you have to suck open a demand valve in your second stage and pull gas down your throat and into your lungs. Each inch along the way and each corner the gas stream turns mean friction and turbulence. Both increase the effort you put out in just breathing and decrease the amount of gas that actually gets to your lungs. Friction and turbulence are unavoidable, but the amount goes up dramatically when you try to breathe quickly--just as a faster-moving boat creates a bigger wake. The problem gets worse as you go deeper because the gas is thicker--it's like trying to suck a milkshake instead of water through a straw.
So don't force it. Try for a long, slow inhale until your lungs are full, then a long, slow exhale until they are empty. More air will get to your lungs, it will spend more time there exchanging "good" for "bad," and you will use less energy pushing the air back and forth.
Upgrade Your Gear
Overhaul your regulator on schedule and consider one with lower work of breathing, especially if you often dive deep. Scuba Lab tests have shown that the work of breathing demanded by some regs can be three times as much as others, even more. A "hard-breathing" reg not only demands more energy and therefore oxygen just to operate it, your difficulty breathing through it increases your anxiety level and elevates your breathing rate. So it wastes gas two ways.
Get in Shape
Two people climb a flight of stairs. At the top, one is huffing and puffing and the other is breathing normally. The heavy breather is getting more oxygen, but he's wasting a lot of what he inhales because he's breathing so rapidly there isn't much time for gas exchange. It's an adaptation that makes sense only on land where the air supply is unlimited.
Diving can be surprisingly strenuous because water is so much denser than air. Swimming into a current, it's not difficult to elevate your breathing to the very wasteful rate of huffing and puffing. But even much lower levels of exertion will cause your breathing rate to rise. How much it rises and how soon depend mostly on your aerobic conditioning. A diver in better condition will have less increase when the workload goes up, so he will use less air. The other part of getting in shape is to lose fat and achieve a more streamlined shape.
Even warm water is cold when you're immersed in it, because if it's cooler than about 95 degrees, it takes heat out of your body at a surprising rate. Heat is energy that has to be replaced by metabolism, using oxygen to make it. Getting cold also creates mental stress which, often without your noticing it, increases your breathing rate.
And Just Chill Out
The competition over who uses less air can itself be a problem when divers associate low gas consumption with diving skill, virtue and the right to take up space on the boat. It's one of those self-fulfilling prophecies: You worry about using more air than your buddy, which causes stress, which elevates your breathing so you do, in fact, use more air.
In fact, a higher rate of air consumption can be caused by many things, some of them fixable and some not. In itself it means little or nothing and is nobody's business but yours and arguably your buddy's--who, we hope, is not out to ruin your day. So if you'd like to reduce your gas consumption, work gradually on reducing your lead, controlling your buoyancy, improving your shape and posture in the water, going slowly, breathing slowly and relaxing. Then forget about it. That alone will help.
Hydration can be a major problem to your health even when you are completely surrounded by water. In fact, all the delights of a dive vacation — a hot sun, rum punches, long hours spent on the water — can leave you as dry as desert sand. How can you avoid becoming dehydrated, which could put an early end to an amazing diving adventure, and learn to recognise the symptoms?
A few common symptoms like headache, fatigue, or feeling dizzy can be overlooked or attributed to other causes. But when these symptoms accompany others, such as a dry mouth or being excessively thirsty, dehydration is likely the cause. Some of the most common effects from mild dehydration is cramping because not enough water is taken to your muscles and overall exhaustion and weakness. While that may not sound very severe, the more dehydrated you are, the more difficult it is for you to remain focused and self aware of your surroundings. You are also at a higher risk of having decompression sickness. On a dive vacation, some of the factors leading to dehydration are:
1) Sweating. Perspiring is the body’s internal a/c, a cooling mechanism that releases a significant amount of water. It’s common to sweat in hot, exotic locations — and that’s without the extra stresses and workload a diver has. Divers sweat while loading and offloading gear from a boat, finning against a current, and wearing a wetsuit for a prolonged period of time.
2) Sunburn. Soaking up the sun’s rays can be dangerous. Relaxing on the beach can lead to sunburn and as your body struggles to repair the damage, water seeps into the damaged skin and the body loses fluids.
3) Immersion diuresis. This is the correct term for peeing in your wetsuit. Immersion in water, especially in water that is colder than the air, causes narrowing of the blood vessels in your arms and legs, sending more blood back to your body.
Nobody plans to get ill on a dive trip, but the fact is it can happen. It will be less likely and less traumatic if you are careful and prepared.
The first step is, of course, don’t get sick, so here are some effective preventative measures you can take:
1. Stay as far away as possible from others who appear sick (e.g., folks who are coughing, sneezing).
2. Wash your hands frequently while travelling and keep them away from your nose, mouth and eyes.
3. In the developing world, be prudent about drinking water from the tap. Stick to bottled drinks, especially water, and make that ice you use also comes from distilled or bottled water.
4. Avoid unshelled fruits and vegetables. Stick to fruits with hard shells and avoid berries. If you chance it with leafy greens, they should be very well washed with clean water.
5. If you are in an area with insects, wear long sleeves and pants, avoiding dark or bright colors, especially at dawn and dusk. Try to stay indoors at dawn and dusk when many flying insects are most active.
6. Wear a proven insect repellent or a picaridin-based repellant containing at least a 15% concentration.
7. Avoid scented toiletries and perfumes, which attract insects.
8. Get necessary vaccines before departure. You can check with your primary care physician but it’s very unlikely he will be travel-medicine savvy. Alternatively, locate a travel medicine specialist through ASTMH/ACCTMTH directory or my favorite, little-known gem, Passport Health to find out what’s currently being recommended for a specific destination.
9. Verify that your health insurance provider covers medical expenses abroad as many do not. Familiarize yourself with the details of your medical coverage, and especially with the process for documenting a claim (even DAN can be a problem if you don’t carefully follow the rules). In addition, it’s prudent to secure an IAMAT (International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers) membership. It’s free and the organization maintains a network of approved health professionals throughout the world who offer services to travellers at a fixed rate.
If your carrier doesn't cover you overseas, consider purchasing traveller’s insurance.
Thirteen Things You Didn't Know About Scuba Diving Gear - But Should
Divers have an intimate connection to their equipment. But the history, evolution and hidden inner workings of many integral pieces of our collective kit might be a mystery to many of us. Knowing more about your scuba diving gear is essential.Check out these 13 curious details, historical head-scratchers and surprising facts, including why dive watches glow and what the heck is the “Bends-O-Matic?”. In Turtle Bay Dive Resort, we not only serve you, but we give you more information about the diving world.
1. One of the earliest “dive computers”, the SOS Decompression Meter, was completely mechanical and simulated the process of gas absorption in the body. Its sketchy performance earned it the nickname “Bends-O-Matic.”
2. The first decompression tables, and the basis for modern dive computer algorithms, were published in 1908 by John Haldane. They were based on simulated dives using a hyperbaric chamber. The test divers were English goats.
3. Depth ratings for extreme deep dive watches have exceeded the known depth of the oceans. The Sinn UX is rated to 12,000 meters, more than 1000 meters deeper than the Marianas Trench.
4. Tritium, a radioactive material safely used in tiny quantities to make illuminated markings in many dive watches, is also used as a “booster” in multi-stage hydrogen bombs.
5. The rhythmic, mechanical breathing of Star Wars’ Darth Vader is iconic. It’s the amplified sound of a scuba regulator.
6. Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan invented the Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus in 1943. It was based on a diaphragm regulator design first developed more than a hundred years before.
7. Last year, Allen Sherrod, a dive instructor from Florida, spent 48 hours and 13 minutes breathing from a regulator while submerged off Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida. It was a world record time for a saltwater dive.
8. Many warm-water divers use their octopus as a defense against stinging jellyfish. A brief purge beneath an oncoming assailant will gently lift it out of the diver’s way.
9. An ancient bas-relief dating back to 900 B.C. shows Assyrian divers using animal skins filled with air, which they carried with them to increase the length of their dives.
10. Before the standard power inflator came along, horse collar BCs incorporated small CO2 canisters to provide emergency inflation when needed, just like many personal floatation devices do today.
11.The popular backplate-and-wing BC design came as a cave diving innovation and improvement over “belly bags,” which uncomfortably sandwiched divers between an air bladder and a pair of heavy steel tanks.
12. No welding is used in making a typical aluminum scuba tank. Instead, a 32-lb. aluminum slug, 7-inches across, is pressed into shape by 2,500 lbs. of pressure in just 20 seconds.
13. Everyone knows LED lights are more efficient than incandescent models. But how efficient is it? Tests have shown that burn times may average 30 times longer using identical battery power.
Are Split Fins Right for You?
When cruising the depths, do you find yourself nagged by ankle strain when kicking through the water? Does the most minimal fin stroke get your knees and leg muscles barking like a pack of dogs? Do you like the ability to kick into a current or chase a bat ray without getting overly fatigued or cramping up? Are you a big fan of the flutter kick? If so, you might be a candidate for split fins.
Split fins slice through the water with far less resistance than traditional paddle fins. That’s because rather than pushing against the water with brute force, the flexible blades of a split fin, when engaged in an up-tempo flutter kick, actually generate lift along with a jet propulsion effect, similar to a boat’s propeller. The faster the propeller turns, the more propulsion is generated. In other words, with split fins power comes from the speed of a diver’s kick rather than the force of the kick. The result: excellent acceleration and the ability to sustain speeds and cover a lot of ground with minimal effort or leg strain.
Of course, like anything else, there are good split fins and not-so-good split fins, so performance results will vary. Also, due to the principles of the design, the best kick for a split fin is a narrow (inside the body’s slipstream), rapid flutter kick. If that type of kick is not your cup of tea — if you prefer sculling or the frog kicking instead, or if you tend to do a lot of backing up — then a split fin is probably not for you. Clearly, there are distinct differences between splits and paddles. The question is what design approach is right for the type of diving you like to do?
Read Sport Diver Asia Pacific’s roundup on fins byjoining the PADI Diving Society today, and get a 1-year subscription to Sport Diver Asia Pacificwith your membership!
5 Tips for Dive Mask Care
I want to share with you 5 useful tips for looking after your dive mask. As we all know, having problems with your mask can really spoil a great dive so follow these 5 steps and ensure you always get a great view of your dives.
Scuba Diving Gear: Mask Care
Critical scuba diving gear requires annual inspection and service by a qualified technician, but even dive masks — your window to the underwater world — need some special tender loving care. Here’s our guide to keeping your mask in tiptop shape in 5 easy steps.
1. If you haven’t replaced your mask strap with a stretchy fabric one, stretch out the strap to look for fine cracks. If you do find any, immediately replace the strap.
2. Examine the silicone of your mask skirt. The most common failure area on a mask is the feather-edged seal on the skirt. This can become imperfect or irregular in shape with time and heavy use, and that irregularity can create leaks.
3. Check all the buckles, which can crack, split or become clogged with debris that can interfere with how they function. Then check the frame of your mask for cracking, chips or other obvious signs of wear, especially in the areas immediately adjacent to the glass lens.
1. To avoid mildew growth, rinse your mask in warm, fresh water and allow it to drip dry completely before packing it away.
2. Pack the mask loosely, so nothing distorts the mask skirt. Leaving it squashed into a weird position for a long period of time will cause it to take on an unnatural shape.
Take good care of your mask as this is our eyes, our access to the beauty underwater.
Based on article by DocVikingo
Look, Dont't Touch
Scuba diving is traditionally a look, don't touch kind of sport, but even careful divers can inadvertently run into trouble. By far the most common diving injury is the common scrape, usually from coral. Marine aware divers dive without dive gloves and many marine protected sites ban the wearing of gloves so that divers will not be tempted to touch marine life. So the chances of an accidental scrape become more likely to occur.
Types of Injuries
Irritations often occur as a result of a brush with coral or sponges. Coral scrapes can be painful and sometimes difficult to heal because the living organisms in the coral can get into the wound and cause infections. Contact with a sponge can leave irritating fibres in the skin, producing an itching rash that can range from mild to severe, possibly with pain and blistering.
Prevention & Treatment
Even if you're careful, it's likely you'll come into contact with coral someday. My first encounter with fire coral gave me an inflamed hand that lasted one week. If and when you get a scrape, here's what to do:
1. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure your body is covered, even if just by a dive skin.
2. Regularly irrigate a scrape with copious amounts of vinegar over a period of about 30 minutes.
3. Apply triple-antibiotic to the wound twice a day for a couple of days.
4. Scrapes can become infected even with proper initial care. Watch for hotness to the touch, redness or red streaks around the site, swelling, discharge of pus, or fever. If you see them, contact a doctor.
5. Fragments of coral sometimes become lodged beneath the skin and the body mounts a prolonged allergic reaction to them. In some cases, debridement is required to resolve the reaction.
Even in the absence of embedded coral remnants, it is not unusual for a marked hypersensitivity response to a coral injury to continue for three to four weeks before significantly improving. Sometimes the lesion will resolve but then return.
If a scrape doesn't substantially resolve within a month, or gets worse, you should consult a dermatologist.
Worst Case Scenario
Even innocent injuries can turn deadly if you have an allergic or severe reaction. After any accident, watch for severe swelling, dizziness, blurred vision, breathing difficulties, weakness, muscle pain, cold sweat and a rapid heartbeat. If any occur, call DAN’s emergency hotline immediately. CPR may be necessary until help arrives.
The Turtle Bay Dive Boat and Dive Centre carry first aid kits that can be used for on the spot treatment; however the nearest large hospital to Moalboal is South General Hospital which is 90 minutes drive from Moalboal. So my advice to all divers coming to Moalboal, or to a remote dive location in the Philippines, is to make sure you are a paid up member of DAN (Divers Alert Network) so that expert advice is just a phone call away.
As children we saw the world as an opportunity to try a new and exciting experience every day. Sights, sounds, smells and colours dazzled our senses with each journey we took and life held boundless discoveries for us to make. However, with every passing year the novelty of worldly delights begins to wear – until relief from the daily grind is all that we truly seek to discover on our annual holidays.
Imagine if there was a new, thrilling world that you had never seen before, just waiting to be glimpsed.
We’ve all seen trees, mountains, lakes and sunsets. But how many people have experienced the marvel of the world underwater? Only by seeing it can you truly believe the breathtaking beauty of life at the bottom of the ocean. This is the ultimate destination for anyone looking to escape a life of normality and to push themselves to learn a rare and most valuable skill.
Scuba diving is not just a sport, but a lifestyle. Those who learn the skill find that it becomes a passion that consumes them, and they soon find themselves always searching for the best diving spots and the most sought-after sights. With some of the top diving destinations containing around 40,000 square kilometres of intricate coral reef, there is an enormous variety of marine life to be found. There are hundreds of species of multi-coloured fish, along with sharks, rays, turtles and a whole host of plant species that you never knew existed.
The best way to begin the learning process is to take a break from your daily routine and discover the diving holidays Maldives, Philippines, India or Red Sea getaways can provide. Wherever there is sea, there is life to be a part of – and learning on holiday will make the experience even more magical.
Taking your first breath underwater will be something you never forget – the power to immerse yourself in nature that was never intended for human eyes. With the help of an experienced PADI trainer you will embark upon a course designed to slowly adjust you to the diving experience and gain the confidence you need to swim underwater for a prolonged period of time. Most diving holidays include lessons for children and adults, as well as even the more experienced divers, in order to build and sustain a safe level of skill for all the family. Courses usually follow the basic principles of:
- Starting off in a pool to learn the basic skills of diving
- Studying the theoretical part in a classroom at the resort or online
- Completing adventure dives with various challenges in order to build confidence
- Reviewing skills if you haven’t dived in a long time
- Practise, practise, practise!
There are also numerous other opportunities to develop your new skills further, such as completing courses in a specialist field such as underwater photography, emergency first aid, rescue diving and becoming a master diver. With such a lot of activities to choose from, it is little wonder why divers are continually seeking more unique challenges. So try it, and rediscover the child within you and a whole new world!
To Find out more about PADI diving courses you can take at Turtle Bay Dive Resort, click on this link PADI Dive Courses.
Article written by contentlobby.com
Our Spanish guests – Jose Mate & Alicia Garcia sent by Viajes Buceo – had the first whale shark sighting of 2011. They were diving at the Copton marine sanctuary on January 15, 2011 when they looked out into the blue and saw the whale shark. Sorry no pictures this time as they did not have a camera.
Most divers by now have heard of the thresher shark cleaning station at Malapascua, Cebu. It is great to get up close to a 3m thresher even if you have to get up in the wee hours of the morning. Now at Pescador Island, we have something really cooool! The huge sardine balls attract threshers and many more predator fish. On December 9, 2010, our group of divers was lucky enough to witness a thresher in action. It dashed in amongst the ball of sardines and with a few quick sweeps of its tail it stunned a few fish which it the n proceeded to feed on them. WOW what a sight. I plan to post the video very soon.