Deep diving: Exploring the ocean depths

Deep diving isn't defined by a certain depth as much as by the training and experience of the diver as well as the equipment used during the dive. For example, for a recreational scuba diver with little experience, going 60 feet beneath the surface may constitute a deep dive. For experienced divers using breathing gas supplied from the surface through an umbilical cord (referred to as surface supplied diving), a deep dive may mean submerging 100 feet beneath the water's surface.

There are unique perils to deep diving (we'll talk about those perils in a moment) that require specialized training. If you're interested in exploring the sights and treasures hidden in the deep depths of the sea, you'll find this article valuable. Below, you'll learn of the dangers of deep diving as well as some useful tips to ensure a great diving experience while keeping you safe.

Potential problems of deep diving

The 2 main dangers of deep diving are nitrogen narcosis and DCS. Both conditions have the potential of becoming life-threatening. Nitrogen narcosis affects the brain through gaseous nitrogen. Though nitrogen arguably begins to affect the brain at even shallow depths, its symptoms are most prevalent below 100 feet. Scuba divers have reported experiencing feelings of euphoria and over-confidence. Prolonged exposure can often lead to feelings of numbness and even short-term memory loss.

Decompression sickness happens when a diver's body goes through a rapid decrease in the pressure exerted on the body. Typically, this happens by climbing quickly to the surface from deep depths. As the pressure exerted on a diver's body quickly decreases, nitrogen bubbles can become trapped in the joints of the body. Symptoms can range from itching skin to loss of consciousness to speech problems and paralysis.

Helpful deep diving tips

The most important element of learning to deep dive is being aware of the dangers of nitrogen narcosis and decompression sickness. Your training will involve steps you should take to avoid both conditions. Beyond that, there are a few other things you can do to make sure you have a great diving adventure while remaining safe.

First, get plenty of rest the night before your dive. If your body is tired, there's a greater likelihood of developing DCS. Second, hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine the day before your dive. Both will dehydrate your body, making you more susceptible to DCS. Third, assuming you're diving with a buddy, go through a checklist of each other's gear and the signals you'll use to communicate. Check hoses, buoyancy controls and alternate air sources before you submerge. Lastly, pay particular attention to your breathing during your dive. Take relaxed, deep breaths. Shallow breaths will build carbon dioxide in your body.

Getting ready to dive deep

While every scuba diving excursion requires planning, deep diving requires more stringent controls. Because of the dangers of nitrogen narcosis and decompression sickness, there's less margin for error. Planning the entire dive including the time submerged, maximum depth, communication procedures and what to do in the event of an emergency can help ensure that nothing is left to chance. Deep diving can offer spectacular sights that are unavailable on shallower dives. The key is to plan everything beforehand. Doing so all but guarantees a wonderful diving adventure.

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