Improving our air consumption is always on a scuba divers list of resolutions or things they want to improve on. So here are a few things to look at to help us improve our air consumption.
First how is your weighting? Are you over weighted and constantly using your inflator to maintain proper buoyancy? Maybe you are weighted properly but you are carrying all your weight in one spot and it is dragging you down? Dropping weight or moving it around to become more streamline in the water will help you and your air consumption. By being more streamlined in the water, we glide through the water column in a more efficient manner. If we are over weighted the body wants to have our head up and back arched some which drops our feet putting our body in a less than efficient position and increasing our air consumption as we are working harder than we should be.
Secondly, how is your fining? Are you racing around under water or are you gliding? A nice smooth fining motion with a straight leg is the best way to improve your air consumption. If you are racing around or using a kick that looks like you are riding a bicycle you are exerting more effort than necessary and working harder and increasing your air consumption. Scuba diving is being more like the tortoise than the hare. It isn’t a race, but a nice little stroll under water.
Finally, I know you read in your open water class to take long slow deep breathes. This encourages you to get a nice full breathe and a full exchange of air in the lungs. But what it does is get you thinking about breathing and you actually will increase your air consumption. What we really want you to do is just relax and breathe. If you have been in one of my classes you have heard me ask the question, “How long have you been breathing?” You know how to breathe so let’s relax, breathe and have fun.
Signing up for your Advanced Open Water or a Peak Performance Buoyancy class can help you decrease your air consumption and increase the amount of time you spend under the water.
Project aware is an organization that is dedicated to protecting and conserving our underwater resources and environments by partnering with divers and others that love the water. Through educational programs, advocacy (see shark fining ban) and other programs Project Aware is working to protect the underwater world on a global basis.
A very lofty goal and as divers we are the natural ambassadors and eyes to help protect our aquatic world. There are many ways a diver can help protect the marine life and environment such as taking a Project Aware course, participating in conservation activities such as clean ups of your favorite dive site, data collection and coral reef monitoring. We can also help by making sure that the dive shops that we spend our travel dollars with use mooring buoys or practice “drift diving” or “live boating” and not anchors. For example in St. Lucia they practice “live boating”, that is they do not anchor and the boat captain follows the diver’s bubbles or float and picks them up at the end of the dive. This ensures that their anchors do not land on and destroy the fragile reef below. Most dive operators are using mooring buoys, but not all and not at all dive sites. One time on a liveaboard on our last dive of the week, they tossed an anchor into what they assumed was a sandy bottom only to come within a foot of a small coral head that was home to a cleaning station with a dozen or so Arrow crabs and other little creatures.
As divers we can also help by educating ourselves with the Project Aware Peak Performance Buoyancy course. By streamlining our equipment so our gauges are not dangling and banging into the reef. Practice responsible behavior while diving on wrecks and taking underwater pictures by not touching the reef either with our hands or fins.
Project Aware has a nice handout that list 10 ways a diver can protect the underwater environment
- Dive carefully to protect the fragile aquatic ecosystem
- Be aware of your body and equipment placement when diving
- Keep your skills sharp through continuing education programs
- Consider how your interactions affect aquatic life
- Understand and respect underwater life
- Be an ecotourist
- Respect underwater cultural heritage
- Report environmental disturbances
- Be a role model for other divers and non divers when interacting with the environment
- Get involved in local environmental activities and issues
To learn more about Project Aware visit their web site and here is another 10 ways divers can protect the ocean
Many new divers ask this question just before they pack their bags for that tropical vacation, how much lead will I need for buoyancy? There are many ways to answer that basic question, but if you have taken your PADI advanced open water class with us, then you already know that there is a basic weighting chart in your adventures in diving manual and you also know that there is a small little typo in that same chart.
Let’s take a look at the normal diver and how I might weight you for your tropical island dives. First, what type of wetsuit are you using? A dive skin or a 2 mil shorty or maybe a full 3 mil. Maybe you run cold and are using a 5 mil full suit. They all add buoyancy to us and they all have very different buoyancy issues to overcome. For an average person in salt water let’s start with
- Dive skin or swim suit, since neither of these have any buoyancy start with 4 to 6 pounds
- 2 or 3 mil Shorty or full suit – 5% of your body weight plus approximately 4 pounds for the added buoyancy of the tank as it empties
- 5 mil full suit – 10% of your body weight plus the extra for the tank
These are not hard and fast rules, but a basic starting point. A person that carries a lower percentage of body fat, such as a weight lifter might use less weight that a person that is carrying a few extra pounds around their middle. I have seen very thin and in shape divers that needed extra weight and very large people who needed all most no lead. Every diver is different and every diver has different gear. If you have been diving with a heavy jacket style BCD and you then start diving with the Zuma travel BCD you will need to adjust your weight up to counter the lighter weight of the travel BCD. The same goes for a new wetsuit, add a few extra pounds of lead to counter the added buoyancy of the wetsuit as they are more buoyant when they are new.