By Liana Valandro
What is Snorkelling?
Snorkeling is a fun recreational activity searching for marine life utilizing diving goggles, a breathing tube and sometimes swim fins. When snorkeling, a person simply floats on top of the water naturally breathing through their air tube while looking at the ocean floor for marine life.
The basic equipment needed for snorkelling are:
- Snorkel mask
- Snorkel tube
Optional equipment for snorkelling:
- Flotation devices
Snorkelling masks and tubes are the main equipment needed for snorkelling. The mask must fit your face well so water does not enter it, so it can give you clear vision underwater. Don't have the mask on too tight or too lose. This could result in leakage or damage to the mask. The snorkel provides you with air when under the water. All the equipment must be cared for and kept with you, not to lose it in the ocean.
In snorkelling if you descend more than a few feet from the surface you may begin to feel some pressure on your ears. If this is the case you need to equalise the pressure. This is down by holding one's nose and blowing gently. This should make the pressure subside for you to continue to venture further down. This technique may not work each time, in which case you should return to the surface and attempt to equalise again.
Buoyancy and being able to adjust your buoyancy is necessary for serious snorkelers. Standard snorkelling requires you to float close to the surface, close enough for the snorkel to be out of water and able to retrieve air. It is simple to stay afloat, but flotation devices can be used if assistance is needed. Yet when snorkelling you can dive down from the surface. To do this buoyancy is adjusted. Weight belts can be used to assist this change in buoyancy if diving is part of your snorkelling routine.
Finning is swimming by means of flippers. Flippers are not necessary for snorkelling but help with speed to go down and see more on the one breath of air. There are different techniques to finning, most apply to scuba diving but can be applied to snorkelling as well. The flutter kick is preferable for snorkelling. In this kick the legs move up and down in opposing directions with a fairly straight leg.
When planning a snorkelling venture it is required to; Learn about the environment, check the reef conditions, be familiar with the Marine laws e.g protected areas and marine life, check all equipment is in order, check weather beforehand.
- Duck diving
Duck diving enhances snorkelling. This is a method that allows the snorkeler to go beneath the surface and view more of the surrounding and life then just from the surface. Duck diving is performed by bending at the waist in the middle so the head faces down and kicking the legs are in the air; then the arms pull the body down in to the water. This puts you in a vertical position which will take you under to see more of the ocean.
- Clearing your snorkel
Snorkels fill with water when below the surface. To clear it the 'blast' method is used. This involves blowing out through the snorkel to force the water out through the top.
- Clearing your mask
When the mask fills with water it must be cleared before continuing the dive. When completely under the water raise mask and fill with water, breathe through snorkel as fills, bend head back and press fingers at top of the mask, breathe in through snorkel, breathe out through nose forcing the water out of the mask, repeat till cleared and fit firmly on face.
Basic Snorkelling First Aid
When snorkelling it is advised to be equipped in CPR or be near someone who is. A snorkelling first aid kit can be bought and used if injury or incident occurs. You should not snorkel alone or not have any form of communication when snorkelling in more isolated areas in case of an emergency.
A snorkeler is usually under water with only the snorkel visible above the water. This therefore creates the danger of inshore and leisure crafts such as jet skis and speed boats. Snorkelers may not be seen and therefore struck by vessels. To prevent this snorkelers should wear bright coloured clothes or have a dive flag to make them visible. Snorkelers are exposed to the sun and their backs can get badly burnt. Sunscreen or shirts are recommended. When snorkelling near or on coral reefs the dangers include poisonous inhabitants and the possible cuts from coral. Dehydration is a safety concern to be addressed to hydrate and prevent cramps