If you’ve just decided to enter the world of SCUBA diving, we’d like to be the first to welcome you with open arms. People decide to become SCUBA certified for a variety of reasons; you may be most interested in ocean conservation, you may be intrigued by garnering a new skill, you may even enjoy the specific science behind learning how to sustain your own life in an environment that you are not naturally equipped to exist in. Whatever your reasons may be for joining the SCUBA community, there are invariably mistakes that you will make because, well, you’re new. Here are just a few tips that will help you get the most out of your SCUBA training and intro dives.
Note: These pointers are in no way meant to teach you how to dive, but rather how to be a good SCUBA student.
Listen and Learn
Never, under any circumstances, talk over your instructor. We don’t mean to discourage you from asking questions, because undoubtedly, you will have many. However, it is all too common for someone to think they know a little something about the science of breathing underwater with highly specific gear and proffer their own “wisdom,” which can impact the learning of other students that are also trying to learn how to stay alive underwater. Even if you think you know something, listen to the words that are coming out of your instructor’s mouth. You should have plenty of written and video materials that will corroborate what your instructor is telling you. If you really feel what the instructor is saying is egregious, bring it up at the conclusion of the class.
Keep Your Hands to Yourself
When you first immerse yourself in the underwater world, you will be surrounded by all kinds of animals and life you have never seen before. That is part of the thrill, right? No matter how enamored you are with these newfound life forms, do not touch or pursue these animals. Marine animals, with a few small exceptions, are not conditioned to interact with humans, nor should they be. You will become well acquainted with the diver’s motto: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but bubbles.” You may observe your dive master or instructor handling marine life, but in most cases, these people have knowledge and training of how and when to handle these animals, and when to simply look. If an instructor hands you a marine animal, handle it with great care — don’t squeeze, pull, yank, or chase after the animal if it wants to get away. Monkey see, monkey do does not apply when in the ocean realm. The opportunity to see these incredible species in their natural environment far outweighs any stress the animal would experience by you trying to handle it on your own.
It is all too easy to become overwhelmed by the complexities of diving, but the most important aspect of your ability to dive is that you remain calm. The people who have trained you to explore the aquatic world are experienced, and have undergone the same stresses and pressures that you will invariably go through when you’re learning how to dive. If panic sets in, remember to breathe normally. As a student, you will always have an instructor by your side — there is no reason to panic! Acting on fear and panic can create a much bigger problem than just relating to your instructor that you feel uncomfortable; your instructor will be keenly attuned with your every move underwater, and will help you overcome any issue you may have. That being said, be sure to alert your instructor if you have trouble equalizing, breathing normally, seeing, or generally feeling at unease, as it is not shameful or a testament to your ability to dive to call a dive for any reason.
With these considerations, you should have no problem acclimating to the other 70 percent of our planet!