10 Questions New Scuba Divers Ask – Part 2

10 questions new scuba divers ask
DDC divers rock!

(Updated 2.6.2018)  Every diver remembers that exhilarating time when he or she first tried scuba diving. A few will pound their chests and declare they never hesitated a minute. They just strapped that 50 lbs of gear on their backs and back-rolled into the abyss. Hoo-rah!

Most of us remember it differently. We were excited, for sure. But we had concerns. We needed answers before willingly subjecting ourselves to hostile alien environments where human beings were not designed to survive.

This two-part blog series was conceived to answer ten of the most common questions asked by people new to scuba diving. Part 1 dealt with the sharks, diving in contact lenses, investment in scuba gear, claustrophobia, and fitness levels. You can read Part 1 by clicking here.

In Part 2, we answer more of your burning questions. Let’s get started!

6. What if I’m prone to seasickness?

This was one of my personal concerns, when I was introduced to scuba diving. I’m happy to report that I don’t get sick all the time. But occasionally, it happens. And if the seas get rough enough, it might happen to everyone on the boat. I learned there are lots of strategies to prevent seasickness, and remedies to combat it when it happens. For example, take a preventative dose of motion sickness medication (such as Bonine or Dramamine) the night before a dive and again the morning of. Should you start to feel ill, move to the center of the boat and fix your gaze on the horizon. Have a “sea sick kit” in your dive bag, with items like Sea Bands, ginger flavored hard candy, Saltines, and peppermint gum. When I’m prepared with medication and my kit, I feel in control and less afraid of being sick. That’s important. Seasickness is more related to the anxiety of becoming seasick than to the actual motion of the ocean. (Want more tips? Please read my post “Sick of the Sea — Dealing with Seasickness.”)

7.  What if water gets in my mask?

10 questions new scuba divers ask
Photo Source

Scuba masks are designed to keep a pocket of air around your eyes so that you can see clearly underwater. Masks have a soft silicone skirt that, when properly fitted, creates a watertight seal from mid-forehead to below your nose. Sometimes,  that seal is broken. This can happen if, for example, some of your hair is under the mask or by smiling. I smile underwater all the time. Each time, I feel little trickles of water breaching the mask skirt. It’s okay when this happens. One of the skills you will learn during your certification training is how to effectively clear your mask of water. (I remember this freaking me out when I first heard it. Why not just teach us how to avoid water getting in our masks??) Here’s the thing: scuba training prepares you for many underwater circumstances so that you won’t panic if something unexpected should happen. As you master a skill like mask-clearing, you become more comfortable and confident, and you learn that what you feared before, isn’t really scary at all.

8. Isn’t scuba gear heavy? What if I can’t walk with it on my back?

scuba gear
DDC Photo

Scuba gear typically weighs about 50 lbs and feels a bit heavy, on land. The good news is you don’t scuba dive on land. Once you’re in the water, you don’t feel the weight of the gear, at all. One of the extraordinary sensations during a dive is the feeling that you are weightless, floating through underwater space like the fish, in stark contradiction of the laws of gravity we thought we were unconditionally bound by. As far as getting geared up, you will find that divers are a generous bunch. We help each other into our gear. We hoist and hold, strap down and support, check and double-check. The staff of most dive boat charters moves your gear for you, changes out your tanks between dives, and even puts your fins on for you as you stand ready to enter the water. Bottom line: If you need assistance, the divers around you will jump up and help, usually without being asked. Divers are cool, that way.

9. What if I once ruptured my eardrum?

“A ruptured eardrum — or perforated tympanic membrane as it’s medically known — is a hole or tear in your eardrum, the thin, drum-like tissue that separates your ear canal from your middle ear.” (Source Mayo Clinic) It takes a few weeks for a ruptured eardrum to heal without treatment. (A rupture with infection or requiring surgical intervention could take longer.) It’s not advised to scuba dive with a perforated eardrum. Once it is again intact, however, there is no medical reason to avoid scuba diving. I actually ruptured my eardrum in December 2011 and then dove in Belize the following February. I visited my doctor a week before the trip, to verify that my eardrum was healed. (Always consult your physician before a dive, if you have medical concerns.)

10. How much does scuba certification cost?

Open Water Diver Athens GA
DDC Photo

Dolphin Dive Center has certified over 1,000 students in the past few years. The SSI curriculum is outstanding, but it’s our instructors that make your dive training fun. The course is a two-step process: Classroom and pool sessions; and open water check-out dives.

Total price of Open Water Certification is three payments of $395*. That price includes digital learning materials, instructor fees, mask, fins, snorkel, full wetsuit, gear bag, classroom sessions, pool sessions, computer rental, gear rental and open water checkout dives. *Transportation and Meals during checkout dive weekend NOT included*

Check-out dives are done in open water. DDC offers students check-out dives in Vortex Springs, FL (November-May) or Lake Jocassee, SC (June-October). 

You have 4 months from the time you complete the classroom instruction before you must complete your check-out dives. You have the option of going on one of DDC’s dive vacations and completing your certification there. (See our trip schedule here.) Also, if you already have a beach trip planned,  DDC can refer you to a dive shop at your vacation destination. Cost of a referral is $75, payable to DDC. You will then be responsible for paying the referred instructor for your check-out dives.

Are you a new diver with other questions? Or do you remember having different questions when you began diving? Leave them in the comments and we’ll answer them for you.

Thanks for reading!

10 Questions New Scuba Divers Ask – Part 1

10 questions from new divers
Photo by Brent Hix

(Updated 2.6.2018)  Working at Dolphin Dive Center puts me in contact every day with people interested in scuba diving. They come to the shop excited, but also apprehensive.  And that apprehension prompts them all to ask the same kinds of questions.

In this two-part blog series, I have compiled the 10 most asked questions people new to scuba diving ask, and offer answers. Five questions, in no particular order, are below. Be sure to read Part Two with the second five by clicking here.

1. Will I have to buy a lot of expensive equipment?

10 questions new scuba divers ask
Photo by Brent Hix

The short answer to this question is no. Whether you dive at a resort or with a charter boat service, there will likely be a rental shop where you can rent gear by the day, weekend, or week. It may not fit you perfectly, but you will be able to dive in it. That said, when you own your own gear, it will fit you every time. You won’t have to fumble with straps, inflator hoses or purge valves because you will be so familiar with your personal set-up. Owning your own gear contributes to your comfort and peace of mind. A relaxed diver consumes less air and enjoys longer bottom times, allowing him or her to truly savor the experience. But there’s no rush to owning your own gear. Rent for as long as you like. When the time is right to buy, you will know it.

2. What if I wear contact lenses?

You can safely scuba dive while wearing your contact lenses. Soft lenses may be more comfortable than hard or gas permeable lenses, and disposable lenses are a great option. It’s recommended to use lubricating drops before and after dives, to keep your eyes moist and to rinse away any residual salt water that may irritate the eyes. For more great tips, read the article “Scuba Diving in Contact Lenses.”

3. Aren’t there, like, sharks down there…?

10 questions new divers ask
Photo by Brent Hix

We hear this one all the time. It’s usually the second question, right after “How much does scuba diving cost?” (The answer to that question is coming in Part 2.) It’s understandable to worry about sharks, considering the bad rap sharks get from Hollywood blockbusters and Shark Week. But expert Dr. Robert Hueter of the Mote Marine Laboratory – Centre for Shark Research in Florida sets the record straight. He says, “The idea that sharks are out there attacking humans, it doesn’t reflect the reality of what we have learnt over the past 40 years about shark behaviour and biology – sharks are not man-eaters, and in fact, many shark species are threatened by humans.” (Read more at “Encounters of the shark kind — but please, not an attack.”) Bottom line: Ask most experienced scuba divers, and they will tell you the highlight of any dive is a shark sighting. Unfortunately, sightings are quite rare.

4. Can I be a scuba diver if I’m out of shape?

Dolphin Dive Center Athens GA
Photo by Tim Bridgham

For the record, Tim and Ina (pictured here) are not out of shape! I just thought the photo illustrated the point: Scuba diving is a sport anyone can enjoy. Whether you are young or old, fit or out-of-shape, still wearing the jeans you wore in high school or in need of a good weight loss plan — anywhere on the spectrum — you can scuba dive. And here’s a fun fact: Many divers at Dolphin Dive Center become motivated to lose some weight, start exercising, and/or quit smoking after finishing their scuba certification. Why? Because they realize that getting fit means their respiratory systems will work more efficiently, which in turn means they’ll consume less air and extend their bottom times. Added benefits, all around!

5. What if I’m claustrophobic?

10 questions new divers ask
Photo by Brent Hix

Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder in which sufferers have an irrational fear of being trapped in confined spaces. If you are claustrophobic and considering scuba diving, you will most likely experience some of that anxiety the first time you gear up. But rest assured, the training you will receive during certification will desensitize you to the fear of confinement. As you master skills that allow you to cope with the underwater environment, your training will become a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It will be important to let your instructors know about your fears. They will spend extra time with you, if necessary, until you feel safe and comfortable underwater. Just like with anything, if you really want to dive, your fears won’t stand in your way.

Please read Part Two (click here). More questions from new scuba divers will be answered!

Do you have a question about scuba diving? Leave it in the comments and it’ll be answered! 


Marking Your Dive Gear

Picture this scene:

Photo Source Destination Cayman
Photo Source Destination Cayman

The dive boat has just docked after a two tank dive. You’re getting bumped from every direction as you and the other fifteen divers gather up your gear and prepare to disembark. Your inside-out wetsuit drips from the same support bar where six others just like it hang. Your fins are shoved under the bench along with the guy’s next to you, who also owns blue Hotshots. You’re feeling around in your mesh gear bag where you’re pretty sure you tossed your mask, though the one the guy across from you is holding looks an awful lot like yours…

Sounds familiar, right?

Don’t get all the way to the hotel and realize you have one of your size medium blue Hotshots and one of that other guy’s extra large. Marking your dive gear is a simple way to quickly and easily identify your scuba equipment. Below are creative ways to mark your gear. You’ll find all product information at the bottom of this article.

How to Mark Your Dive Gear

mark your scuba gear
My Hotshots, bought at Dolphin Dive!

Write your initials, your name, or a special symbol on each piece of gear you own. Use Trident U-Mark It, a Sharpie or a permanent paint pen on fins, mask cases, the back of wrist computers, flashlights and camera equipment. Permanent silver markers work well on neoprene wetsuits,  booties, gloves and hoods.

Adhere personalized, waterproof labels to camera equipment, flashlights, fins, log books, and luggage. 3M makes sticker labels specifically for scuba divers and boat enthusiasts.

Attach personalized, waterproof zipper pulls to wetsuit and gear bags.

Wrap regulator hoses with brightly colored, plastic wraps.

Attach military or dogtag style tags to BCs and mesh gear bag zippers. Have them engraved with your name, mailing address and/or phone number so anything accidentally lost or taken can be returned to you. Consider using brightly colored zip ties to attach them to D-rings.

Tie fluorescent-colored nylon string to D-rings on your BC and straps on mask and accessories like flashlights, etc.

Cut narrow strips of lime green, hot pink or orange duct tape (or electricians tape) and thread one strip through each of the zipper pulls of your booties and wetsuit. Press the sticky sides together for a bright and visible marker that will make your stuff easy to find, even in a rinse bin full of black neoprene.

dolphin dive center
Reflective diver identification stickers for your tank, light canister, etc.

To mark your scuba tanks, safety sausages, rebreather, and other larger items, check out DiveSigns.com for reflective diver identification stickers. They are highly visible in the worse of underwater conditions.

DiveSigns.com also sells Stealth Diver Name Stickers. As explained on their website, these are great: “For the diver requiring a more understated name marking. When fitted to a black surface, Dive Signs black-on-black reflective Stealth identification stickers are all but invisible until they are ‘lit’ by torch or sun light. When the light hits the reflective backing the stickers become as clear to read as our regular black on white stickers.”

A Couple Points to Remember

  • Don’t forget to mark your weight pockets too. They are easy to lose in a big rinse tank! Use paint pen, Sharpie marker, or stitch a label onto the fabric.
  • Make re-marking your gear a yearly goal. When you get your gear serviced each year, re-check the marking system you use, go over any faded writing with Sharpie/paint pen, and replace worn out nylon ties, duct tape or zip ties.
  • As divers, the marine environment is important to us. There is interesting information and discussions on environmentally safe ways to mark your scuba gear at TheDivingBlog.com. (Click here to read the article.)

Dive Gear Marking Tools, Product Information

How do you mark your scuba diving gear? What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t?

Sick of the Sea — Dealing with Seasickness

Seasick. That was me, last Monday. Not fun.

Taking advantage of the last day in Florida on Spring Break, my little family of four booked passage on a dive boat out of Palm Harbor. The plan was to do a two-tank dive with Tanked Up Dive Shop. We were the only people crazy brave enough to face 63 degree water temp, so it was just us and the crew.

We planned to dive The Sheridan, a 180-ft ocean tugboat sunk as an artificial reef. The site is about a 2-hr boat ride from the marina, but the air was mild and the seas were far from rough, so we considered the ride a fun part of the day. It would have been too, if it weren’t for the wind.

The wind was blowing in such a way that the fumes from the diesel engine engulfed us the entire way out to the wreck.

By the time we arrived, I was feeling sick. I think it was a combination of the increasing pitch and roll of the boat the farther from shore we got and the noxious fumes. Luckily, I was able to make the first dive. The Sheridan is an absolutely fantastic site, complete with resident Goliath groupers and schools of barracuda. But the minute I pulled myself back up on the boat for the surface interval, I was hanging over the edge, sick again. By then I was cold, surely dehydrated, and unable to make the second dive.

BonineWhat could I have done to prevent seasickness? Maybe nothing. But there are measures I could have taken to stack the deck in my favor. First, I could have taken motion sickness medication. The guys at Tanked Up suggest taking a dose of Bonine the night before the dive and a second dose at least 30 minutes prior to boarding the boat.

Available HERE

Preventing seasickness is best, but I could have also been better prepared in case it happened. I plan to put together a “seasick kit” every time we dive. The kit will contain items such as: Wrist bands for motion sickness such as Sea Band, ginger ale, crystalized ginger, ginger flavored lozenges/hard candies, Saltines or pretzels, and peppermint hard candies or peppermint flavored gum.

Those are the things I could have done to be better prepared, but here’s what I did to combat my seasickness:

1. I kept drinking water.  A person who is vomiting will dehydrate a quickly, especially when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. I took little sips often, until we were off the boat.

2. I sat on the boat in the middle of the deck. The motion of the waves is felt the least at the center of the boat.

3. I rested my head against the back of the bench and fixed my vision on a point on the horizon. Motion sickness happens when the brain becomes confused by conflicting messages from the eyes, inner ear and sensory nerves as they perceive motion. It can be caused by motion that is seen but not felt, motion that is felt but not seen, or motion that is seen and felt but the two don’t correspond. Making sure you don’t move your head abruptly and watching the horizon minimizes sensory confusion and eases seasickness.

4. I put on warm clothing. After the 30 minute dive in 63 degree water, I was very cold. The vomiting further lowered my core body temperature. Slowly, I got out of my wet bathing suit and put on yoga pants, a hooded sweatshirt and a blanket-lined boat coat. As I warmed up and the trembling subsided, so did the nausea.

Nothing spoils a fun day of diving like seasickness. I’ve talked to crew members who spend months at a time out at sea working on yachts, and everyone tells me the same thing: Everyone succumbs to seasickness at some time. The best way to ensure your dive day will be the best it can be is to monitor how you’re feeling, watch the horizon if necessary, and be prepared with motion sickness medication or a seasick kit.

What’s your favorite cure for motion sickness?

Here’s a look at The Sheridan Wreck!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Staying hydrated is important to the proper function of every cell, tissue and organ in a person’s body. Most of us have heard the 8×8 rule, the basic guideline of consuming eight 8oz-glasses of water per day.  But life is busy, and hours can easily slip by between sips of water. In most cases, the resulting mild case of dehydration is rectified after a glass or two of water, with no serious consequences. But for a scuba diver, even mild dehydration can become dangerous.

How does dehydration effect scuba divers?

Dehydration predisposes a diver to decompression sickness (DCS). To understand why this is true, it’s important to first know the basic effects of dehydration on the body: A lack of water in the body thickens the blood, compromising the circulatory system by diminishing its ability to transport nutrients. As the exchange of gasses like oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen diminishes, so does the body’s ability to off-gas nitrogen. So when a dehydrated person goes on a dive, his body is not efficiently ridding excess nitrogen accumulated at depth.  Even if he dives within his computer limits and even if he ascends slowly at the end of the dive, he could have more residual nitrogen in his blood and tissues than normal. And if he reaches the surface safely, the increased excess nitrogen could trigger DCS on repetitive dives later that day.

In addition, dehydration can induce muscle fatigue and cramping, high blood pressure, confusion, accelerated heart rate, and rapid breathing. In a scuba diver, these symptoms lead to weakness and exhaustion, poor air consumption, reduced awareness, and the increased risk of decompression sickness.

Can scuba diving actually aggravate dehydration?

There are many factors in a diving day that compound dehydration. The intense sun and tropical air of popular dive destinations feel hot, especially for vacationers coming from cooler locations. Sweating is the body’s attempt to regulate its core temperature. And we sweat profusely stuffed in a wetsuit, preparing for a dive on the deck of a boat where there is little shade or trudging with heavy gear on our backs across hot sand for a beach entry dive.

Salt water effects a dehydrated diver. After being immersed in sea water, we’re covered with salt crystals whose hygroscopic properties draw moisture out through the skin. Even the sea spray that blows on us as the boat hits waves going to and from the dive site adds to our contact with salt water.

Everyone loses body moisture when they exhale, but the amount of moisture lost increases when a diver breathes compressed air. Most all moisture has been filtered out of the air when it traveled through the compression system and into the scuba tank. On a dive, this virtually humidity-free air draws moisture from a diver’s body during respiration.

Even a dehydrated diver feels the need to “go” during a dive, due to a phenomenon called Immersion Diuresis. Basically, water temperature and pressure during a dive cause the body to direct blood away from the arms and legs and toward the trunk, in an attempt to maintain core body temperature. This increase in blood levels around the major organs is detected by the kidneys and misinterpreted as excess fluid. Urine production increases in an attempt to flush the body of these excess fluids.

How to Stay Hydrated While Scuba Diving

  • Drink ample amounts of water in the days leading up to the dive. Bring a water bottle with you to hydrate before and after the dive, and during surface intervals. You can also eat fruits during surface intervals to replace lost fluids. 
  • Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as these diuretics flush water from the body.
  • Rinse skin and hair with fresh water as soon as possible following a dive.
  • Apply sunscreen after a dive and every two hours during sun exposure. (The body pulls moisture from other parts of the body to soothe sun-burned skin.)
  • Stay in the shade, if possible.
  • Put on your wetsuit at the last minute, when you’re ready to get into the water.
  • Avoid seasickness if you’re susceptible by having medication on hand.
  • Don’t dive hung-over.

Hydrating your body is always important. But a scuba diver must avoid dehydration because the risk of decompression sickness increases when the level of body moisture decreases. Be a safe diver — drink lots of water! 


Attack Underwater Panic

I learned in my Open Water Diver certification class that a common reaction to anxiety or fear is a rapid, shallow breathing pattern, which leads to an out-of-breath feeling. I remember we were told to be aware of this symptom and if it occurred, to slow our breathing down and focus on the exhales to return to regular breathing. Good thing we covered that, because it happened to me. And it was terrifying.

It happened during my first open water checkout dive. I was already anxious, as my husband and I had opted to do our checkout dives while on vacation in Florida instead of with our Dolphin Dive instructors. I’ve always regretted that decision. However, DDC referred us to Mike Gomez with the Panama City Dive Center, and we couldn’t have been in better hands. Mike is such a great guy: funny, competent, full of personality and an instructor of the highest caliber.

We headed out with Mike on a dive boat with about 25 other divers. Everyone seemed experienced and excited to get in the water, unlike me who worried about being seasick, worried about how I’d gear up shoulder-to-shoulder with all those divers, worried about diving in sea water, worried, worried, worried.

The boat operator announced we were stopping in the shallows to allow the four divers working on certification, including my husband and I, to drop down with our instructors and demonstrate our skills. It was intimidating to feel like everyone was looking at us as we waddled to the stern. Trying to appear cool and relaxed, I casually looked over the side of the boat. That’s when I saw the jellyfish.

They were rusty orange in color. And they were everywhere.

I’d been stung by a jellyfish the summer before. I was not happy about doing a giant stride entry into jellyfish infested water. Did I mention I was not wearing a wetsuit?

I hit the water and bobbed up to the surface without a sting, but now my head was on a swivel, searching my immediate environment for the jellies. At the same time, I fumbled with my BC deflater, clenched the descent line, and attempted to clear my ears. I didn’t have enough hands. With so much to concentrate on, my off-the-charts anxiety went unnoticed and unchecked. Until I reached the bottom.

Kneeling on the sandy bottom under 25 feet of the Gulf of Mexico, the instructor indicated the first skill and pointed to me. I felt winded from the scary descent through the jellies, so I sucked air in quick, shallow breaths to catch my breath. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get a lung full of air. Two more rapid breaths, and I felt like I was suffocating. I wasn’t getting any air. None. I panicked.

The instructor had his eye on me. He gave me the “Okay?” sign, and I shook my head frantically. I thrust my thumb up, emphatic. I needed to surface, like now.

The instructor wagged his finger at me. No. He flattened his hand, pushing it palm down in a deliberate motion. Calm down. Then he turned his attention away from me and continued with skills with my husband.

In that moment, the coursework came back to me. Severe anxiety can trigger hyperventilation. A little voice whispered, That’s happening to me! The training kicked in: Slow your breathing down and focus on the exhales to return to regular breathing. Within 30 seconds, I was back in control of my respiration, breathing as comfortably as I do on the surface. I gave the “Okay” sign to the instructor and completed all my skills.

Diver stress can happen to anyone, but new divers are especially susceptible. Remember your training whenever a stressful situation arises; it will get you through. And a comfortable, confident diver is one who dives often and who continues his or her diver education by taking specialty courses in a wide variety of subjects. The more you learn, the more equipped you become to handle any situation, any time.

And hey, if you’re ever in Panama City Beach, FL, be sure to stop by Panama City Dive Center and say hello to Mike Gomez!

Helpful Tips for New Scuba Students

Dolphin Dive Athens GA
Open Water classroom session at Dolphin Dive Sept. 2012

The decision to become a certified scuba diver is made for different reasons, and whether someone is seeking adventure or pursuing a new career path or just ready to check that item off their Bucket List,  the range of emotions that accompany the commitment is as varied as the people drawn to the sport. My favorite aspect of scuba is how “in the moment” I feel when I’m diving. There are few activities in life when you aren’t thinking about what you’ll do later that day, or what you wish you’d said to someone earlier. Scuba diving demands all your attention, and you happily oblige.

That said, there is a degree of anxiety that accompanies even the most excited new student. Human beings aren’t designed to breath underwater. And nearly everyone who imagines visiting the ocean floor thinks, at least once, “But…what about the sharks…?” Here are some tips that will help new students get the most out of their scuba instruction and ease anxiety, along the way.

In the Classroom:

1. Come to class prepared. As you’ll learn when you visit Dolphin Dive Center and sign up for our Open Water Diver certification class, you will need to read the course book and answer the questions at the end of each section before you attend the two classroom sessions. This is important because understanding the science of scuba diving is paramount to becoming a safe diver, and the repetition of new concepts is a proven technique for maximum retention.

2. Listen to your instructor. For many new scuba students, it has been a while since they were in school. We all bring a wealth of life experiences to the classroom. However, the instructor will be the most experienced scuba diver in the room, so listen to him or her. Refrain from talking over him or her, or from interjecting your own thoughts and opinions. We encourage students to ask questions. But students who talk more than listen can impact the learning experience of the other students in the room.

3. Be on time. Running late stresses you out, and holding up class for late students stresses out everyone else in the classroom. Stess feeds anxiety, so give yourself plenty of time to arrive relaxed to class or the pool.

In the Water:

1. Don’t feel rushed. There is no reason to rush while you’re putting your gear together, performing your first buddy check, or descending in the water. Scuba diving involves a slew of important details to remember. You’ll learn specific steps to follow so that no important detail is left unchecked, and we know learning those steps takes practice. That’s what your OW training is all about. So don’t feel like we expect you to perform everything quickly and expertly. Take your time, and feel free to repeat steps until you feel comfortable.

2. Ask questions. There are no stupid questions, and as you try out the scuba equipment and experience breathing underwater, you will likely wonder how to put in practice what you’ve learned in the classroom. The instructors and divemasters are there to answer those questions, so ask away!

3. Practice hand signals. When you’re in the pool as a scuba student, it may feel unnatural and, well, a little dorky to use hand signals. We understand; we’ve all been there. But the minute you dive in open water you will realize the importance of communicating with your dive buddy underwater. Hand signals seem obvious when you’re skimming the list on paper. It’s another thing to actually use them. A perfect example is the sign for “I’m okay.” The natural sign for non-divers is the famous “thumbs-up.” But if you signal a thumbs-up to a diver, he or she will think you want or need to go to the surface.

Dolphin Dive Athens GA
This is the signal for "I'm okay."

Scuba diving is a new experience, and students can get the most out of their Open Water instruction when they come prepared, listen, and learn. We look forward to teaching you! For all the information you need to get started, call Dolphin Dive Center at (706) 548-3483.

Scuba Diving in Contact Lenses

The underwater world teems with life, and seeing the vibrant corals, brightly patterned fishes and hazy blue-green water at the ocean floor gives you an experience only about 5% of the world’s population has shared. If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself but are worried you can’t because you wear contact lenses, this article will put your mind at ease.

Contact lenses wearers who want to learn to  scuba dive should know they can dive safely in their lenses, as long as they keep a few simple things in mind.

1. Soft contact lenses are recommended for scuba diving. Hard and gas permeable lenses are rigid and can be susceptible to painful suction to the eye as the pressure increases in deeper water. Also, gas permeable lenses allow gases to pass through to the eye. During an ascent, nitrogen bubbles can form between the lens and the eye, causing blurry vision.

2. Keep your eyes closed when performing underwater skills such as mask flooding and mask removal. Just as swimming underwater with your eyes open risks one or both lenses floating off the eye(s), the same thing could happen when clearing or retrieving your mask.

3. Tell your dive buddy you are wearing contact lenses. If the unlikely situation should arise, your buddy will know to retrieve your lost mask for you.

4. Use lubricating drops in your eyes before and after each dive. Also, blink more than usual during the dive, to keep your lenses moist and ward off irritation.

5. You may find rinsing your lenses during surface intervals washes away any residual salt water that could lead to dry, irritated eyes.

Some other things to consider:

  • Disposable lenses are a good choice for dive trips, so that they can be changed out at the end of the diving day.
  • Prescription lenses are available for your scuba mask, should you decide diving with contacts is too uncomfortable. Dolphin Dive Center would be happy to help you order prescription lenses.
  • And for divers who find it increasingly difficult to see close up, Dolphin Dive Center sells Dive Optx, which are inexpensive, reusable adhesives that stick to the bottom corner of your mask and magnifies to more easily read your submersible pressure gauge, dive computer or compass.


For more information about how to become a scuba diver, please call Dolphin Dive Center at (706) 548-3483.