Wreck diving fundamentals

Shipwrecks have always contained a level of mystery and intrigue. Most shipwrecks are a puzzle that promises little to no explanation regarding their watery demise. In recent years, wreck diving has become increasingly popular amongst diving enthusiasts. So popular, in fact, that retired ships have been submerged to provide easy access to shipwrecks for beginning wreck divers. But, don't let that fool you. Wreck diving, like any form of penetration diving, can be perilous for the untrained or uninitiated. While all forms of scuba diving offer a host of potential problems, wreck diving presents unique hazards. Below, we'll describe the allure of wreck diving, the types of wrecks you can explore as well as potential dangers you need to consider before exploring those shipwrecks of the past.

Reasons why people wreck dive

People wreck dive for various reasons. Some enjoy the sensation of exploring a tragic loss underwater. Others are mesmerized by the artificial environment that spawns its own system of marine life. Still, others are drawn to the opportunity to investigate the inner machinery of a ship. For most divers, though, the store is the appeal. A tale of tragedy has always had the power to inspire our imaginations. A shipwreck is a tale of immense tragedy and implies the loss of many lives. Some wreck divers simply want to explore that tragedy up close. Others want to place it within the context of their own understanding of maritime history. In each case, wreck diving fulfills a small, dark curiosity within each of us.

Types of wrecks to explore

Most people might instantly envision pirate ships when they hear the words "wreck diving." But, other types of wrecks lie at the bottom of the ocean. Of course, boats and ships comprise the majority of wrecks that divers can explore. But, submarines and airplanes also litter the ocean floor. Submarine wrecks are rare, however. Due to their travel patterns when fully operational, a submarine wreck will typically reside in extremely deep water, making access difficult. On the other hand, airplanes are quite common and easily accessible. During World War II, many planes (and their pilots) were lost to the ocean's embrace. They can often be found in relatively shallow water, making access much easier.

Dangers of wreck diving

Wreck diving is usually less dangerous than ice diving and cave diving. However, there are potential problems that could become life-threatening if not resolved quickly. When you're exploring a wreck, you'll often venture inside the structure. Remember, many wrecks, while well-preserved, can be unstable due to the length of time they've been submerged. If a wreck breaks apart (even slightly) while you are inside, your exit points can become blocked or you could become snagged by fishing lines and nets. You should always have a dive knife with you while exploring wrecks.

Enjoying safe wreck diving

Like most forms of diving, wreck diving can be safe and enjoyable as long as you remain alert underwater and know what to do in the case of an emergency. You should be using guidelines to mark your exit routes in the case of low visibility within the wrecks. You should carry a spare light. If you're penetrating deep beneath the surface to explore a wreck, plan to use extra breathing gas. With a bit of training, upfront planning and practice, you're bound to become a master wreck diver before long.