Deep diving is an exhilarating and challenging activity that allows divers to explore the depths of the ocean. PADI defines deep as descending to depths greater than 18 meters (60 feet), where divers can encounter unique marine life, stunning underwater landscapes, and even shipwrecks. However, deep diving requires specialized techniques, equipment considerations, and certifications to ensure safety and enjoyment. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of deep diving and provide you with valuable insights into this fascinating underwater adventure.
What is Deep Diving?
Deep diving, also known as deep scuba diving, refers to diving beyond the recreational diving limit of 18 meters (60 feet). For most recreational deep divers, it typically involves descending to depths ranging from 30 meters (100 feet) to 40 meters (130 feet). Divers who go deeper than 40 meters (130 feet) are classified as technical divers. Deep diving offers divers the opportunity to explore breathtaking underwater environments that are not accessible during shallower dives.
Deep Diving Techniques
On a previous blog, we talked about the Pressure-Volume-Density relationship. Remember that as you go deeper, the pressure increases, the volume decreases and the density becomes much greater. This knowledge affects the capacity of our scuba tanks in terms of gas supply (i.e., a tank that can last 60 minutes on the surface may only last 20 minutes at 66ft), the effects of nitrogen gas absorption and the distance to the surface increases. Imagining having an issue at the surface of the water and then having it at 130 feet. The diver will need to travel to the surface to get home.
Deep diving requires specific techniques to ensure safety and management of the challenges associated with increased depth. Here are some key techniques used by deep divers:
1. Proper Buoyancy Control: Maintaining neutral buoyancy is crucial during deep dives to conserve energy and prevent rapid ascent or descent. Read more on buoyancy control here.
2. Slow Ascent Rates: Ascending too quickly can lead to decompression sickness. Deep divers must ascend at a controlled rate, following decompression stops if necessary.
3. Nitrogen Narcosis Management: At greater depths, divers may experience nitrogen narcosis, which can impair judgment and coordination. Deep divers must be aware of the signs and manage their nitrogen levels accordingly.
4. Gas Management: Deep divers can use air for their adventures, but some recreational divers will get certified in nitrox. This is a form of gas mixing that adds a little oxygen to the mix that increases the no decompression limit. If the diver has great breathing habits, they can spend a little more time underwater with the use of nitrox. For the really deep divers, they'll add inert gasses to their mixes or reduce their oxygen content to reduce the risk of oxygen toxicity and nitrogen narcosis. That's a larger discussion outside the scope of this blog; but there's plenty of techniques that deeper divers will use to increase their safety underwater!
Equipment Considerations for Deep Diving
Deep diving requires specific equipment to ensure safety and comfort at greater depths. Here are some essential considerations:
1. Dive Computer: A reliable dive computer is essential for monitoring depth, bottom time, and decompression requirements during deep dives.
2. Regulators: Deep divers should use regulators specifically designed for cold water and deep diving, capable of delivering gas at greater depths. The easier it is to breath, the better!
3. Dive Lights: As sunlight diminishes with depth, dive lights become essential for illuminating the underwater environment and enhancing visibility.
4. Reels and Lift Bags: Deep divers often use reels and lift bags to assist with decompression stops and manage buoyancy during ascent. They also use it to mark their current position for boaters and other surface dwellers.
Certifications Required for Deep Diving
Deep diving is an advanced form of scuba diving that requires additional training and certifications. Here are some certifications commonly required for deep diving:
1. Advanced Open Water Diver: This certification provides divers with the necessary skills and knowledge to dive to depths of up to 30 meters (100 feet).
2. Deep Diver Specialty: This specialty certification focuses specifically on deep diving techniques, gas management, and safety procedures. The maximum depth for most courses is 40 meters (130 feet).
3. Enriched Air Nitrox Specialty: Deep divers often use enriched air nitrox to extend bottom time and reduce the risk of decompression sickness. This certification allows divers to use nitrox blends with higher oxygen percentages. Increasing their no decompression limit equals longer bottom times at deeper depths.
4. Technical Diving Certifications: For dives beyond recreational limits, technical diving certifications such as Trimix Diver or Advanced Nitrox Diver may be required. This certification follows decompression procedures and introduces an experienced diver to a new way to dive. Remember, every diver should be thoroughly trained prior to going to deeper depths. Especially those divers seeking technical diving procedures.
Deep diving offers a world of exploration and adventure for experienced divers. By mastering the techniques, considering the right equipment, and obtaining the necessary certifications, divers can safely embark on unforgettable journeys into the depths of the ocean. So, if you're ready to take your diving to new depths, start your deep diving training today and unlock a whole new underwater realm!
About the Author:
D.J. Mansfield is a PADI Course Director who dives Southern California and has done so for 25 years. He is currently the Director of Operations for Beach Cities Scuba and is a committed ocean steward and trainer for divers all over the world.
Follow him on Instagram @djmansfield7or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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