Scuba Diving... an extreme sport designed to tickle the tastebuds of fearless adventurers, the lifelong swimmers and the strongest of gym-goers? WRONG.
If you've always wanted to try Scuba Diving but feel as though you aren't a fearless daredevil, that you aren't superman/woman, or the worlds best swimmer, that's perfect! Scuba Diving is definitely for YOU!
Now that we've cleared up that misconception, let's move onto the fears that may be preventing you from your first scuba diving experience.
If you prefer to watch video rather than read, go for it!
(This is my very first time on camera recording a video, so I apologise for the noob-ness, and I am actively working on making these videos better! Let me know your thoughts!)
FEAR #1: IS SCUBA DIVING DANGEROUS?
Scuba Diving does pose its own risks - just as everything else in this life. Driving your car is a risk, as is crossing the road. Standing under a coconut tree is also a risk! If you're looking into your first Discover Scuba Dive or getting your Open Water Scuba Diving Certification, please have faith that your instructors know what they are doing. They have taught countless students of all genders, ages, and demographics how to scuba dive - just as a drive-instructor may have once taught you how to drive.
Have a chat to your would-be instructor before you book anything in if you are experiencing any anxiety, and ask any and all questions that may be swimming around in your mind (trust me - none of your questions are stupid. It is SO much better to ask them as soon as you can!). Speaking with your Instructor and becoming familiar with them will surprisingly lift off some of the fear you may have been holding, assuring you that you can feel confident your Instructor is knowledgable and will teach you everything you'll need to know, making sure you are safe, happy and having fun the entire time!
As long as you are following scuba diving etiquette eg. not holding your breath, not touching or feeding anything, always diving with a buddy, controlling your buoyancy (something you will learn to do quite well over a few dives), diving within your limits - which is up to 18m (60ft) for Open Water Scuba Dive Card Holders, up to 30m (100ft) for Advanced, and to a depth of 40m (130ft) for Recreational Diving as a whole - and opting to complete a Scuba refresher course if you are a few years out of practice (they're a lot of fun!). Ultimately, diving can be as safe or as dangerous as you make it! Stay Safe, Salty Peeps.
FEAR #2: ISN'T SCUBA DIVING SUPER EXPENSIVE?
A quick google search tells us that scuba diving is incredibly expensive, and this may deter you instantly. I personally did my SSI Open Water Course out of ProDive Sydney for $149.00 AUD (Roughly $100 USD) for the full 3 days including online training, classroom testing, pool sessions, 4 open water guided scuba dives inclusive of all rental gear, and the certification to be able to scuba dive globally.
It makes sense to believe that South East Asia may offer the most affordable Scuba Courses as it is generally quite cheap overall, however this is not the case in many locations across SEA. If you would prefer to complete your open water course in pristine tropical waters, and have the funds to support this, I would definitely recommend to do your course in Koh Tao (Thailand), Gili Trawangan (Indonesia), or wherever your tropical heart fancies - however I am well aware that this is not the case for many people, so having a more affordable option at hand is extremely helpful to know! For your Open Water Course in South East Asia, you are looking at around $525 AUD ($355 USD). This is because of the amazing warm waters (hello 30C all year round!) phenomenal marine life and insane visibility.
Personally, I decided to get my licence in Sydney for $149 AUD, and from there on I only have to spend a small amount whilst travelling in order to rent some gear and pay the DiveMaster. Expect around $40AUD ($25 USD) for a guided dive as a ballpark figure, and slightly more for a night dive or UV night dive.
if you are not planning on making Scuba Diving your new weekly activity, this is a good way to save quite a few hundred dollars on diving in the beginning!
FEAR #3: WHAT IF I RUN OUT OF AIR?!
Managing your air supply (using your gauge to determine BAR/PSI remaining) is quite easy to do. Simply check in on your gauge every few minutes to check how much air you have remaining. This is a super quick check you can do to ease your mind in a second!
The deeper you dive, the more air you will naturally use, as the atmospheric pressure you are under increases, adding 1 atmosphere every 10m (33ft), naturally consuming more air. For example, at the surface you take in a huge breath of air to fill your lungs - go on, do it! (lets pretend that is 2L of air you have inhaled). Now if you are at 10m/33ft depth (2 atmospheres) and you take in that huge breath to fill your lungs, you would have actually taken in 4L. Your lungs have not doubled in size, but the molecules in the air have decreased in size under pressure.
The reverse happens if you are up in an aeroplane. Ever received a vacuum sealed bag of food on a flight? Or peeled off the plastic coating of your aeroplane meal to find the air inside is quite full and pressing on the plastic peel-off lid? This is because the food has been packaged on ground level, but as the plane rises up the air expands! Up here, you will breathe in your huge breath to find your lungs are full at 1L. Science.
The deeper you dive, the more crucial it is to check your gauge and monitor your air consumption. The more stressed, cold, or fast you are moving will have effects on your breathing rate and will consume more air. If you are getting low, and you are not feeling comfortable with the amount of air you have remaining, tell your buddy or your dive guide IMMEDIATELY! They can help you out by offering some of their air, or ending the dive and safely making way back to the surface where air is abundant.
Communication is key. We are human, and are able to communicate with each other. The sign language and skills you will learn on your open water course will include worst-case-scenarios, so you will know exactly how to communicate your lack of air! This is a key element to staying safe while diving.
FEAR #4: BUT... SHARKS!
Don't worry, I was the same when I began my scuba diving journey. All I could think about was a shark wanting to rip my legs out of the sockets and munch on them for a tasty afternoon treat (especially while on the surface unable to see underneath).
The media LOVES a shark story. Shark attacks are blown up across most media platforms. Sharks are perfect for horror films (JAWS) and constantly on the news, instilling fear into you and your family, so much so that we decide we should not go anywhere near the ocean, when the ocean is such a healing place.
Fear of sharks is largely unfounded, and shark incidences are quite rare. So much so that you are actually more likely to die from a Vending Machine, or from a Coconut falling on your head. For real. Look it up.
Just educate yourself on sharks, and you will feel 100x better about your possible encounter with one. There are incredible female Shark Conservationists including Shark Girl Madison, Francesca Page, and Ocean Ramsey. Anything can seem scary when we are not educated. As humans, we tend to use 'worst case scenario' as a form of defence and self-protection.
Sharks are incredible apex predators, responsible for maintaining the balance of our marine ecosystem. Without them, our planets reefs would soon become barren. Here's a little excerpt from Francesca Page's Blog on her 200 Sharks Project:
"They have an intricate social life, complex courtship rituals, surprising ways of bringing up their young, intelligent ways of catching their prey, extraordinary powers of navigation and symbiotic relationships with the most unique creatures, even with us. Not to mention they come in the most beautiful different shapes, colours and sizes: there is more to them that meets the eye. There are over 500 species of sharks, but the shark family tree has two branches. The other half of the family is the Rays, these are flattened sharks, who share the same flexible cartilage Skelton as the sharks. Many still have the tail tale dorsal fin but their pectoral fins have developed into enormous wings, some glide on ocean currents, whilst others fly by moving their wings in a wave like motion. Diving with Manta Rays in Komodo this year inspired me to include this amazing species into the project."
Shoot me a comment below with any fears you may have, or let me know if you liked this blog post and/or if it helped you out in any way! Your feedback is super appreciated.
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