Great SCUBA Diving
Myths and Realities

Myth 1: Recreational SCUBA Diving is a life-threatening, high-risk, dangerous activity.

WRONG: As an outdoor activity, recreational SCUBA Diving is safe and becoming progressively safer, due to modern training standards, improved equipment and the development of dedicated resorts and dive vessels that diligently follow established safety standards.

Statistics compiled by the National Underwater Data Center and the Divers Alert Network show that while participation in diving continues to increase, the ratio of fatalities per 100,000 participants has decreased by more than 50 percent over the last 10 years. The risk of injury is much less today for diving than for other adventure-oriented activities like snow skiing or snowmobiling.

Myth 2: Sharks and other dangerous aquatic creatures threaten divers.

UNTRUE: In fact, most divers have never encountered a dangerous species of shark. Those who have, are usually fascinated and captivated by the creature's beauty. The species of sharks most often encountered by divers, grays, nurses, sand tigers, bulls and on occasion hammerheads, are typically shy and unwilling to approach humans. If you happen to see a shark, it will most likely take off in the opposite direction. As a diver, we are moving slowly through the water (like a large fish) and making bubbles and bubble sounds. They usually want nothing to do with us. It is so rare to see sharks, that some dive operators offer shark feeding excursions to lure them in so that you can see them. Except for the rare Great White (normally found off the South coast of Australia or along a handful of areas in Northern California), most shark species are not aggressive.

Also, creatures with stinging capabilities, like lion fish, large jellyfish and stingrays, don't attack divers and can easily be avoided - though many underwater photographers consider them very attractive photo subjects. Moray eels, shy and graceful, rarely leave their holes. The greatest danger facing today's recreational diver is usually sunburn.

Myth 3: Only powerful swimmers and outstanding athletes can learn to dive.

NO WAY: It is important for a scuba diver to feel comfortable in the water, be in good health and know how to swim. But it's not necessary to be a "super jock" or Olympic-caliber swimmer to enjoy diving. In fact, today, many physically challenged individuals can learn to scuba dive.

Myth 4: Diving is mainly a "man's sport."

HARDLY: It's been said that the single most important influence on the growth of recreational scuba diving in recent years has been the increase in participation among women.

Of the thousands of certifications issued to divers over the last few years, over a third of these certifications were issued to women. Dive equipment manufacturers have noticed this trend and have started creating gear especially for women. New designs featuring bright, vivid colors have virtually eliminated the drab, macho, "Sea Hunt" image of scuba diving.

Myth 5: Diving is only for rich people.

FALSE: You can buy a good quality mask, snorkel and fins (basic equipment every diver should own) for around $150. Most other equipment necessary for a beginning course is either provided by the facility or available for rental.

Those making a strong commitment to scuba diving as an activity can expect to spend about the same amount on equipment as they would for golf or downhill skiing. Typically, the most expensive part of recreational diving is the airfare to get divers to the resort destinations.

Myth 6: You have to dive deep to see anything worthwhile.

ABSOLUTELY NOT: The most prolific sea life and stunning corals are usually within 50 feet of the surface. Plants and corals need light to flourish. The deeper a person dives, the less light there is and colors become muted.

Most underwater photographers prefer diving in the 20 - 30 foot depths. Occasionally, divers go to deeper depths to investigate a shipwreck or wall, but rarely do recreational dives exceed 100 feet.

Myth 7: Dive classes are intimidating and difficult.

NOT ANYMORE: Modern scuba instruction emphasizes the enjoyment of scuba diving and take novices step by step through the learning process. Early instruction was based on military requirements that were designed to train divers to perform elite activities.

Recreational divers don't need to know about military applications. Today, classes are performance-based with much of the initial work done in the classroom and swimming pool, where students become familiar with the equipment and underwater techniques under the supervision of a certified instructor.

The open water training dives are usually conducted in calmer, shallow waters. Most tropical resorts even offer one-day, introductory scuba experiences in warm, shallow water that enables first-timers to sample scuba diving first-hand without making a commitment of time or money.

Myth 8: If you make a mistake underwater, you'll probably die.

HOGWASH: While the aquatic world is a different environment than we are accustomed to, it is in many ways more forgiving than our world on land. Obviously divers must exercise a certain degree of caution and observe standard safety rules and procedures.

However, modern training and equipment generally provides divers with a number of options for dealing with any situation that might arise under water. The more a person dives, the more comfortaeninand confident they become.