informational flyer

Snorkelling basics

what is snorkelling? Snorkelling is the practice of swimming on or in a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a breathing tube known as a snorkel, fins and in cold conditions a wet suit. Using this equipment allows the snorkeller to observe underwater attractions for extended periods of time.

Equipment and care of equipment? Below is a photo of the basic necessary gear needed for snorkelling, diregarding the wetsuit which is only needed in colder waters.

The Snorkel-

A swimmer's snorkel is a tube typically about 30 centimeters long and with an inside diameter of between 1.5 and 2.5 centimeters, usually L- or J-shaped and fitted with a mouthpiece at the bottom and constructed of rubber or plastic.

The face mask-

Snorkelers normally wear the same kind of mask as those worn by scuba divers. By creating an airspace, the mask enables the snorkeler to see clearly underwater. All scuba diving masks consist of the lenses also known as a faceplate, a comfortable skirt, which also encloses the nose and a head strap.

Snorkelling Safety-

Some safety precautions you can take include:

  • Know how fit you are, and know your limits. Don’t overexert yourself.
  • Know how long it has been since your last dive, and consider taking a guided dive, a refresher course, or getting re-certified if you feel in need of it.
  • Plan a safe dive, and follow the plan.
  • Know the hazards and how to avoid them.
  • Know how to use your equipment safely, and always do a safety check of your equipment before each dive.
  • Pay attention to any information given in the pre-dive briefing by the dive staff, follow their advice, and ask questions if you don’t understand something.
  • Be aware of any natural hazards in your specific diving location.

Snorkeling Dangers (specifically sea creatures)-

Some dangerous sea creatures include:

Crown of Thorns: These sea stars eat coral, and at times hit populations that can damage a coral reef. They are covered with long venomous spines, and the way they look it should be easy to follow your instincts and avoid touching them.

Sea Urchins: Many of the species have shaped spines, and we have read of species that can also inject a toxin. As with all reef life, avoid touching them

Fire Corals: These can inflict a very painful sting. Avoid touching branched corals, and you will avoid their sting

Stinging Jellyfish: There are several species of jellyfish found in Australia whose sting could be life threatening. The nets you see along the beaches during the summer months are to protect swimmers from one kind of box jellyfish that is found along the coast. Out on the reefs there is a species or set of species whose sting/venom can cause what is called "Irukanji Syndrome", which can be life threatening.

Anemones are closely related to jellyfish and corals, and like them are armed with tiny stinging cells. Thankfully most anemones are harmless, but some can deliver a painful sting. Avoid touching anemones

Stinging Fish: Lionfish, Stonefish, and certain other reef fish have spines in their fins that contain venom and can puncture you and inject the venom. Some of these fish are very well camouflaged, so avoid touching the reefs, and use care when touching the bottom.

Cone Shells: Cone shells are predatory snails, and kill their prey (usually fish) by shooting a toxin-loaded dart into them. Their handsome cone-shaped shells are very easy to spot, and under no circumstances should you pick up such a shell; a seemingly empty shell may just have the animal fully withdrawn into it. Certain species have a deadly toxin

Sting Rays: Rays are beautiful organisms, but do have a barbed spine at the base of their tail. Divers are rarely jabbed by these spines, almost always when they step, kneel, or sit on a ray hidden in the sand on the bottom will they possibly get stung If you do find a need to rest on the bottom, shuffle the ends of your fins gently in the sand to give any ray under the sand a chance to swim off.

Ear Equalising-

There is various methods divers/ snorkelers use, including:

VALSALVA MANEUVER: This is the method most divers learn. Pinch your nose and gently blow through your nose. The resulting overpressure in your throat usually forces air up your Eustachian tubes.

TOYNBEE MANEUVER: With your nose pinched, swallow. Swallowing pulls open your Eustachian tubes while the movement of your tongue, with your nose closed, compresses air against them.

When to Equalise:

Sooner, and more often, than you might think. Most dive instructors recommend equalizing every two feet of descent. At a fairly slow descent rate of 60 feet per minute, that’s an equalization every two seconds. Many divers descend much faster and should be equalizing constantly.

The good news: as you go deeper, you’ll have to equalize less often-another result of Boyle’s Law. For example, a descent of six feet from the surface will compress your middle ear space by 20 percent and produce pain. But from 30 feet you’d have to descend another 12.5 feet to get the same 20 percent compression.