Every time you touch the coral, hit it with a piece of dangling dive gear, or brush against it with a fin, you kill it. That’s why scuba buoyancy control techniques are so vital to the survival of the reef.
One of the first skills a scuba diver should master is buoyancy control. It’s the art of command over the underwater realm’s anti-gravity like atmosphere.
When you get the hang of this technique you help conserve the coral for the pleasure of divers who descend after you.
7 Coral Saving Buoyancy Control Tips
Here are 7 elements of diving that make, or break, your skill at maintaining neutral buoyancy when you descend for your underwater excursions:
- Be aware of your position during the dive.
- Know your scuba equipment.
- Keep a low dive profile.
- Know your proper weight requirements.
- Mind your fin style.
- Practice your scuba breathing technique.
- Don’t get in a big rush.
There’s no particular order for learning, and perfecting, these elements. Every one contributes to your scuba buoyancy control technique. Some of these elements interact with each other to work synergistically on your personal buoyancy control results. Each element also provides its own individual contribution.
When you’re aware of your position in the water you know how far the coral is from your deadly touch. You constantly adjust to maintain a distance that keeps you from dealing that deathblow.
Know your scuba equipment, what it’s doing, and how to use it to optimize for buoyancy control. This element interacts with weight selection, buoyancy control device (BCD) adjustment, scuba breathing technique, fin style, and dive profile to create the synergistic whole.
Part of buoyancy control is adjusting the amount of air in your BCD to find the point where you become neutrally buoyant. Too much air makes you ascend, and you must keep finning downward to stay at depth. Too little air makes you descend, and you have trouble staying off the bottom – and off the coral.
The weight you carry dictates how much air you must feed into your BCD.
Your scuba breathing technique adds air, or takes it away, from your overall scuba gear buoyancy.
Dive profile is the silhouette of your body, including your dive gear. Profile is the area of water you displace. The more air in your BCD, the larger the BCD, and the bigger your profile. Equipment hanging loose also increases your profile. When you have a large dive profile you have trouble knowing if some part of your profile touches, or comes close to touching, the coral.
A diver needs added weight to descend into the water. The human body is naturally buoyant – it wants to float. But add too much weight, and the body wants to sink all the way to the bottom. As a diver you must acquire the skill of choosing the right amount of weight to take you to depth, and let you float at depth when you get there.
While you’re diving you don’t see what your fins do, or where they go. A long kick pattern threatens to brush against coral without the diver knowing. One way to counter this is practice a shortened fin pattern, and make it a habit. Another way is to use the frog style of finning.
Your scuba breathing technique has a big effect on your buoyancy control technique. When you have the proper weight, and the right amount of air in your BCD, you stay motionless (vertically) in the water – except for when you breathe. As you inhale your body moves to a positive buoyancy condition, and you ascend with the added air. As you exhale your body goes negative, and you descend with the decreasing air in your dive profile.
Take your time as you dive. When you get into a hurry you often lose track of your position. Many divers bump into the coral unintentionally because they’re finning around too fast. Sometimes you can’t turn aside quickly enough to stay off the reef.
As an added benefit to diving slowly you see a whole bunch more than when you’re speeding around like you’ll never have another opportunity to see the sights.
Coral is alive. The colors, and activity of the reef are a major reason why we dive. When you, or any part of your scuba gear, contacts the coral the coral dies.
Learn, and practice, these 7 scuba buoyancy control elements. Master the art of buoyancy control. And help maintain healthy color for future scuba divers to enjoy.