What’s Scuba Diving Like?

Being a scuba diver is like being part submarine, part superhero, and part astronaut.

Why is scuba diving like being a human submarine? It’s all about position and movement.

First of all, we swim horizontally, like a submarine. Second, we adjust our depth using our lungs, much like a submarine adjusts its depth using ballast. Adding air to lungs/ballast causes positive buoyancy (movement toward the surface) and expelling air causes negative buoyancy (movement toward the seafloor). Third, divers and submarines are both propelled from the rear. Divers only use our fins to move, not our arms and hands.

Why is scuba diving like being a superhero? The answer is drift diving.

Swimming in the ocean is very different from swimming in a pool. On most dives, there will be at least a little current that allows you to swim a little easier in one direction and a little harder in the opposite direction. If the current is strong enough, you don’t have to propel yourself at all; you simply drift with the current.

Drift diving feels like flying. The seafloor acts as the ground below. In fact, I will usually thrust my arms out in front of me and strike my best Superman pose. You can relax as you “fly” over the “world” below.

Why is scuba diving like being an astronaut? Because the underwater world is in every way an alien world.

Much like in outer space, humans cannot survive underwater. We need to bring quite a bit of life support equipment with us, even for recreational diving. And our gear becomes more complex as we do such things as technical diving, wreck diving, and cave diving.

Unlike astronauts, we get to enter alien worlds. The “landscapes” look nothing like anything we can see up on the surface. The “world” becomes almost monochromatic as the water absorbs more and more frequencies of light.

And the lifeforms we encounter are completely new and strange. It is sad, quite frankly, Hollywood’s sheer lack of imagination compared to Mother Nature.

Before we start diving, we expect underwater “aliens” to be such things as fish and sharks. In reality, we see many things that look like plants but are, in fact, animals. I have even seen marine animals that look like rocks until they start moving! And, don’t get me started on bioluminescence….

If you have not tried scuba diving, I hope I have peaked your interest in at least giving it a try. A word of caution: once you start, it is very addictive!

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