Scuba Diving for Beginners
The Five Ws
Scuba diving is a complex sport and cannot be fully understood in one lesson. Before taking your first scuba class, you should have a firm comprehension of the five Ws (who, what, where, when, and why) of scuba diving.
Who can dive?
Just about anyone can become a diver. Scuba diving is an equal opportunity sport open to men, women and children of any race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or familial status. However, there are a few limitations on age and health for safety purposes. Here is a quick breakdown of criteria:
Anyone 15 years old or older can become an Open Water Diver. Children between the ages of 10 and 15 can receive a Junior Open Water Diver certification. At the age of 15 they can upgrade to a regular Open Water Diver certification.
There are programs available for younger children that will help prepare them for certification such as the Bubblemakers, Scuba rangers, and SASY.
In general, anyone in good average health who meets the age requirement can participate. As a safety measure, a routine medical questionnaire must be completed. If anything on the questionnaire indicates a risky condition, you should get a medical checkup to make sure it's acceptable to dive. Some conditions to watch out for include but are not limited to neurological, cardiovascular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, metabolic and endocrinological, orthopedic, hematological, pregnancy, behavioral health issues, and ear and sinus problems. When in doubt, Divers Alert Network can answer health questions.
What do divers do?
Scuba divers do more than check out the fish. Depending on your interests, you can specialize in a skill for your own pleasure or make diving a career option. Scuba diving can be broken down into four groups: recreational, commercial, scientific, and military.
This is the largest group of divers – those who dive for the fun of it. Once you get your certification, you can further your diving education by specializing in a skill. Some specializations include altitude diving, night diving, fish identification, search and recovery, underwater photography or videography, equipment specialist, cavern diving, wreck diving, ice diving, and technical diving specialties. Careers include divemasters and instructors; instructor trainers and examiners; resort, dive center and live-aboard personnel; journalists, photographers and cinematographers; leaders of scuba training and certification agencies; sales and marketing professionals.
Commercial divers usually, but not always, work for diving contractors. They build underwater structures and oil platforms; salvage ships and treasures; construct and maintain boats, bridges, docks, dams, nuclear power plants and coastal structures; conduct engineering and scientific surveys and inspections; operate and maintain complex remote operated vehicles (ROVs), air and gas supplies, and life-support systems; provide hyperbaric first-aid and diving emergency medical care.
Scientific diving is different from recreational diving and commercial diving in many ways. Scientific diving is carried out exclusively for research purposes, or in support of research activities that involve marine life, the ocean, underwater archaeology, etc.
Military divers perform tasks such as underwater ship repair, salvage, and construction, as well as dive medicine. Specialized diving divisions include explosives ordnance disposal and combatant divers.
Where do divers dive?
Scuba divers dive wherever there is water: oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, quarries, waterways, canals, mines, springs, abandoned oilrigs, and old missile silos.
When is the best time to dive?
Any time of year is a good time to dive. Just because it is fall or winter, it doesn’t mean you can’t dive. There are many cold water and ice divers out there. You can take specialty courses to prepare you for cold water diving. If you are a warm water fan, take a vacation to a tropical island and enjoy.
Why do people scuba dive?
There is no one simple answer to this question. People dive for their own personal reasons, which can include an appreciation for the ocean, an interest in marine life, or just for the thrill of the ride.