Introduction to Scuba Diving
Scientists believe that we have only explored about 5 percent of the ocean, making it by far the most undiscovered part of our planet. Find any coral reef and grab a snorkel and mask and you become Jacques Cousteau, perhaps finding one of the tens of millions of undocumented creatures that live in the ocean. This is a sport aimed at all sorts of people: singles, families, couples, experts, beginners, researchers, and explorers. Whether you are diving or snorkeling, aquatic life fascinates on a number of levels. The fish are more colorful, the water is warmer, and a beachside bar is never far away. Whether your on the Bay Islands of Honduras, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, or just some lonely island of Andaman Nicobar the scenery is always different under the water, often more so than the world above.
DIVING IN ANDAMAN
There is no adventure than diving. There is always something new, fascinating or challenging about venturing into the underwater world. Diving in Andamans is a unique lifetime experience. The coastal water surrounding theses islands is the abode of one of the richest coral reef ecosystem is the world. The specialty is that, here the coral reefs and underwater formations are undamaged by human activity. The best season for diving is from December to April .
Andaman Escapades is tied up with professional Diving Organization to conduct our tours around South Port Blair Islands and Havelock Island. Please note the nearest decompression chamber is at the Naval Base in Port Blair. Foreigners are only allowed to visit certain islands in Middle, Little and South Andaman Islands.
Few dive sites near to South Andaman Island/Port Blair
(1) Cinque Island
One of the best dive destinations in the island, it has clear emerald water with a visibility of upto 80 feet. The deep dive offers a terrific variety of marine life, including black coral, sightings of sharks and is ideal for the experienced diver.
(2) North Point
This site at Cinque Island is mostly highlighted by sponges and small corals and diversity of fish life.
(3) Southeast Reef
Southeast Reef at Cinque Island is a good site for novices. The southeast part of the reef consists of hard and soft corals and very dense on the rocks to about 16m(53 ft).
(4) Fish Rock
Fish Rock near Passage Island offers an extremely colourful dive. The topography consists of rocky slopes, boulders and drop-offs, featuring large fan of corals and plenty of sponges, below 25m, the rocks are covered in small bushy soft corals in numerous hues. Hard corals are not so evident. Grey and White tip Reef and Reef Sharks are almost always in the vicinity as are Nurse Sharks. Among the rest of the marine life are Eagle rays. Potato Cod, large coral groupers, fusiliers, suitlips, turtles, batfish, bumphead, Parrot fish, Squirrelfish, curious and friendly oriental sweetlips, surgeonfish, yellow Tangs, Triggerfisk, tuna, Rainbow runners and many spices of trevally.
(5) Bala Reef
On the western side of little Andaman, Bala Reef spreads over 4-5 sq.km and is said to be one of the best sites in the Andamans for coral-with vibrant colours.
(6) Snake Island of Corbyn's Cove beach This site offers awesome rock faces and spectacular dive landscape. Marine life includes Trigger fish, Grunts, Goatfish and Rays.
(7) Corruption Rock
Corruption Rock sticks out between Chidiyatapu and Rutland Island. The dive site is on the western side of the rock and is made up of big underwater boulders. The corals are not brilliant but the craggy undersea landscape of boulders is stunning. A fantastic wonderland of gullies, channels, ridges and canyons. Look out for giant napoleons and eagle rays, huge snappers, schooling fusiliers, banner and unicorn fish, Dolphins, tuna and reef sharks have also been sighted here.
The shallow waters near to the island have a good representation of smaller fish and coral, and a good place for training open water divers. There is a ship wreck site also.
Dive sites near to the Havelock Island
Mostly hard corals and their inhabitants are found. Usually good visibility, dugongs have been spotted here.
Aquarium is a fringing reef with lots of 'fishtraffic'. Usually good visibility, mostly hard corals.
Tons of fish, sometimes turtles, mostly hard and some soft corals. Rather suitable for experienced divers.
Turtle Bay is an easy pleasant dive site not exceeding 14 meters. Rays are found in the sand and with luck turtles.
A huge rock with different kind of aquatic life. Napoleans can be seen. The shallow part is full with stag horn corals and its inhabitants.
Lighthouse is a huge dive site, suitable for any kind of dives. Huge variety of soft and hard corals. Perfect for night dives.
The Wall is a huge dive submerged rock. The wall drops down to a maximum of 55 meters and is full with life. Huge forests of soft corals plus schools of fish circling you, makes it always a memorable dive.
Pilot Reef near to Havelock is a huge block of prestine hard corals. At the bottom (max 24 meters) 'canyons' are stretching out. Leopard and White Tip Sharks have been sighted.
Minerva ledge at Havelock is even bigger block of hard corals. Tons of fish even bigger block of hard corals. Tons of fish, usually good visibility and the possibility of seeing sharks makes it one of the top dive sites.
Campbell Shoal off North Button Island
The bottom of this site is covered in mainly hard corals, with sporadic sandy patches and hosts a multitude of reef animals. The marine life includes White tip Reef Sharks, large cod and groupers, Coral Trout, Blue and Golden-banded fusilers, Giant Trevally and a host of colourfull reef-fish.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Wandoor
Hundreds of colourfull varieties of coral reef fishes can be seen in the park. Some of these are clownfish, butterfly fish, surgeon fish, angel fish, parrot fish, bat fish and groupers. White tip shark, hammer headed shark, Manta ray and blue fin jack are also occasionally seen. More than 50 types of corals are found in the fringing type of coral reefs in the park. Some important coral varieties found here are Acropora, Pocillopora, Montipora, Leptoseris, Fungia, Portis, Tubipora and Gorgonians.
THINGS TO CONSIDERThings to Consider About Scuba Diving
Strong waves and rain will often cause waters to cloud at shallow depths. With any sign of lighting you should be out of the water. Water, as you know, conducts electricity and lighting is attracted to the tank attached to your back. Diving during strong waves or a hurricane is extremely dangerous, as you could be pushed into coral or other divers.
In light rain in open water though, it may not matter. Even during the rain the fish stick around. It isn't ideal and the sun won't be there to comfort you when you get back on the boat, but it can be a great way to save a cloudy day.
Water temperature is an incredibly important factor when diving. Not only does temperature decrease as you change latitude, but also as you change depths. Wet suits or dry suits need to be worn during dives as your body cannot handle the extreme temperatures.
Emergency situations do occur while diving on a more frequent basis than many activities. You can touch a poisonous fish or coral, your air tank might not function properly, and you could hit your head on a rock or boat. Generally these are not serious situations, unless you are diving alone. You should always dive with someone else, particularly someone who is a certified rescue diver, which all certified instructors are. It may save your life. Most dive accidents occur from careless preparation and from horseplay, so keep that in mind when trying to show off.
Food and Water
You should eat at least two hours before diving. Go for complex carbohydrates such as fruits, yogurt, and whole grains. You should avoid fatty foods such as hamburgers, French fries, and sausages. Drinking water before and between dives is important as well.
Length of Dives
The length of your dive depends on the amount of air in your tank, which is affected by how quickly you breathe. The quicker you breathe the faster you will run out of air. Many divers will go through one tank, climb back on the back on the boat and rest for a while, and then strap on a different tank.
Inner Ear problems
Often times your ears begin to hurt when diving to the bottom of a pool. Changing depths puts added pressure on your inner ear and you must adjust by blowing air out of your nose and other techniques that an instructor will show you. If you have a history of inner ear problems, you should consult with a doctor before diving.
Considering you will be out on a boat and in the water, where the suns rays are reflected back onto your body and eyes, Sunscreen and sunglasses that absorb at least 90 percent of UV sunlight are important.
Dehydration is a common ailment of divers. Your body needs water and when you are doing any sport you will go through plenty of it whether you realize it our not.
Diving in cold weather and at significant depths is a common cause of hypothermia, which is why the correct wet or dry suit is so important.
PREPARINGPreparing for Your Scuba Diving Trip
Scuba Diving Training
For snorkeling, training and preparation are minimal. All you need are basic swimming skills and the know how to breath out of a snorkel.
Diving is a bit more complicated. The basic operational skills for dive equipment is necessary to begin diving, therefore, certification is a must. The first day of the course you will be taught how to breathe with your equipment, how to connect it, how to change depths, to get adjusted to swimming with the equipment, and you will take brief lesson in the water and a basic dive with an instructor. The remaining days are all spent in the water.
Physical conditioning is only somewhat important when diving. You'll need basic swimming skills the same you would when snorkeling, however, there's no need to be a marathon runner. A lack of stress and relaxation is more important. Maintaining your normal breath
The best training for a diver is practice in the water. The more hours and dives spent underwater the better you will get. In the beginning many divers tend to use their hands more frequently than usual, thus getting tired more quickly. Eventually you will rarely use you hands and just your feet and fins to swim about.
Scuba Diving Gear
To snorkel you just need a mask, fins, snorkel, and bathing suit. That's it. Dive equipment is much more varied. Diving is usually done with an air tank, a suit, mask, fins, snorkel, breathing apparatus, shoes, belt, and a slew of optional accessories.
Your mask, fins, and snorkel are your most basic accessories. They are, for the most part, the same ones you will use while snorkeling. Your scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) set has four main parts: a high-pressure tank, a pressure regulator, a mouthpiece, and a belt that connects everything together.
The wet suit, or dry suit, is one of the most important features that will keep you both warm and comfortable. What you wear completely depends on the water temperatures and the length of a dive. A wet suit is a neoprene body suit that provides thermal insulation, but does not keep the diver from getting wet. A dry suit, which is often used when diving in dirty or contaminated water, keeps the diver completely dry and insulates the diver via air trapped in the suit or the suit's material. A hot water suit is similar to a basic wet suit but made for long, deep, dives in cold water. The suit stays warm from warm water that is dripped inside the suit from a cord at the surface.
Dive watches are another popular item. They can withstand extreme depths, tell you when you should swim to the surface, time your dive, and tell you just how deep you are.
Every dive shop has rentals and most beginner divers stick to renting. Advanced divers will often own all of their gear, with the exception of their tanks, which are supplied by every dive shop. Your dive equipment is extremely important. It should be tested and retested often. Serious injuries and deaths do occur simply because of faulty equipment.
DIVING FOR BEGINNERS
Diving for Beginners
Scuba Diving - Beginners
For beginners and even advanced divers, snorkeling is a cheap, easy, and wonderful way to explore the earth's ocean without much effort or frustration. You can rent a mask and snorkel from your hotel or a beachside shack and walk right out from the beach to explore the shallow waters right in front of you. Almost always, one will snorkel before they attempt diving. Snorkeling is the perfect introduction to diving. If you dislike snorkeling chances are diving is not your thing.
To dive like most enthusiasts you need to be certified. There is a basic 4-day certification course that every diver must take in order to dive on a regular basis. The course teaches you how to breathe, how to swim with your equipment, and how to change depths, among other things. You can also take a one day Ã«fun dive' with an instructor, just a short introduction that sometimes counts toward the first day of your certification. Beginners are limited to depths just 16-32 feet below sea level, but can quickly move to greater depths with more practice.
Scuba Diving - Advanced
Snorkeling for the most part is a basic sport and there is little variation between beginners and advanced. The advanced diver, however, has an incredible array of options. There are literally hundreds of advanced courses, where you can become certified to be an advanced open water diver, rescue diver, dive master, search and recovery diver, night diver, underwater photographer, ice diver, coral reef conservationist, and much, much more. Most of these certifications can be accomplished in just a few days.
The more advanced you are and the more certifications you have the more places, and more importantly greater depths, you can dive. Generally speaking, the further you go below sea level the more the aquatic life changes and the more diverse creatures you will see. Advanced divers tend to be found in groups. They flock to well known islands and dive sites like sheep and may make up entire towns that sometimes begin to seem more like a UN meeting than a vacation. Many become addicted to the sport and set out on dive vacations for months at a time, while others squeeze in a weekend whenever they get a chance