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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?
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…?
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 in the media. 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 maneaters, 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?
Scuba diving is a sport anyone can enjoy. Whether you are old or young, 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?
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 most likely suffer from a mild form of the disorder. 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!