Into the Blue

Scuba_Murudeshwar

by Rithesh Nanda with image contributions from Bharat Suprith

This post was originally written by students and alumnus of Mountaineering club, BMS College of Engineering for SUMMIT Magazine. Illustration and Graphics are copyright of their respective owners.

Water covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface and dominates the living space, accounting for 98% of the potentially habitable volume. Even though it is this significant, our knowledge about outer space is probably exponentially higher than what we know about the depths of our oceans.

It can be said that conventional diving started as early as the 1940s, when Jacques-Yves Cousteau “finned” into this domain, and revolutionized the way that we can enjoy this underwater paradise.

Popularly known as SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), this adventure sport is rapidly gaining popularity as a recreational sport among Indians. It has also helped create awareness among people about the marine ecosystem around the world, so much so that many communities in countries like Maldives, Indonesia, Philippines, Palau, etc., are majorly depending on diving as their primary source of income.

Diving is a sport ALL can enjoy, although it requires special equipment and training. One needs to possess a license to dive from organizations like PADI (Professional Association of Diving In-structors), SSI (Scuba Schools Internation-al) and CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques). A simple four day course involving some theory, pool training followed by 4 sea dives and an exam is all what it takes get started!

How does it work?
Diving requires a special set of equipment. A Neoprene Suit to protect one from scratches and temperature, mask enclosing both the nose and eyes which helps to maintain pressure for the eyes and to correct vision, weight belt to offset the diver’s positive buoyancy and help them sink in when needed to, a BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) which is a jack-et that holds air to control one’s buoyancy or level in water, fins to propel one forward in water, and a cylinder of normal compressed air (21% Oxygen).

Scuba diving - Pondi
Aluminium and Steel tanks store ample amount of air at a pressure of up to 200 Bar. Regulators are used to step this pressure down to breathable normal pressure underwater. A set of gauges are connected to the cylinder to monitor one’s depth and the amount air left in the tank. In addition some people also use a Dive Computer to record their activity and time of dive. While that seems elaborate and complicated, in practice, it is very easy to get accustomed to deal with them and take the plunge.

Precautions
SCUBA diving is an adventure sport and like all adventure sports carries certain inherent risks which can be easily minimised if one completes proper training AND follows the basic rules. In fact recreational diving has the BEST safety record of ALL adventure sports!! The main danger of diving? It’s highly ADDICTIVE!!

Diving in India
The diving community in India is rapidly on the rise with more and more people of all ages taking up this amazing hobby. With a long coast line, the possibilities are endless, but as yet undiscovered! At present diving is limited to just five dive destinations namely Goa, Netrani and Pondicherry on the mainland and Andaman & Nicobar Islands off the east coast and Lakshadweep on the west coast.

Goa & Pondicherry
While rather limited in underwater visibility, both these destinations offer a reasonable variety of marine life and are great training grounds for those looking to get certified internationally. Goa, in particular, offers more than 60 species of fish, hard and soft corals, sponges and an amazing shipwreck all in very shallow and safe waters making it a perfect environment to learn the basics.

Netrani
The Island, located 18kms off the coast of Murudeshwar, Karnataka, is today one of the most popular and accessible diving destination for Indians. Shallow Waters, Mild Currents and a plethora of marine life attract all beginners to do their first dives here.

Scuba-Goa

Andaman and Nicobar
572 Islands which house a vibrant array of corals all around them, offer divers a hun-dred different kinds of dive sites to choose from deep wrecks to caves and terrain with rocks or with coral reefs spread across miles.

Lakshadweep Islands
An extension of Maldives, they form a chain of exquisite coral islands rising steeply thousands of meters from the sea floor. Offering an amazing variety of hard and soft corals and marine life, they are the quintessential diver’s paradise with world class dive sites.

Dive Operators in India

Planet Scuba India, is a Bangalore based company which offers PADI Certified Courses and have Stores in Bangalore and Netrani.

Barracuda Diving, Goa, is one of the first dive centres to be set up in India. They offer courses certified by both PADI and SSI. They are pioneers in organizing Dive Trips and liveaboards to various interna-tional destinations like the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Palau and countries in the South-east Asia!
No longer the domain of “macho” men, today’s divers also comprise of women and children. With a minimum age of 10 completed years and the upper limit only dictated by fitness and good health, it’s a great all around family orientated adven-ture sport.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and jump in with both feet!!

This post was originally written by students and alumnus of Mountaineering club, BMS College of Engineering for SUMMIT Magazine. Illustration and Graphics are copyright of their respective owners.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *