As one starts to gain more experience having done a number of dives, one will of course also be gaining more confidence. We are more familiar with our equipment and many of the newly learnt diving skills are becoming second nature. All of this is awesome of course - indeed, well done on the progress thus far.
However, with confidence sometimes comes complacency and a lack of concentration which, in the diving world, can result in damage to the environment or to our diving equipment and/or injury or death.
Here below are six things many scuba divers get wrong. They are a combination of bad practice or behavior which are commonly observed and which can have disastrous effects.
1. Breaking coral.
No matter the amount of dive experience that you have, when diving near coral, be sure to have planned your dive properly (paying particular attention to current), streamline all of your dive gear before the dive, and be sure to maintain good buoyancy once underwater. You can never be too far away from the reef and better to be safe than sorry.
Coral takes hundreds of thousands of years to slowly grow into a beautiful structure – however it only takes just seconds of distraction to bump into it break it and kill it.
Also be sure not to touch anything in the water. Chances are you don't know your own strength. In fact, your touch will disturb or possibly destroy just about anything you're likely to come in contact with.
Avoid or minimize all contact with the bottom or with marine life.
2. Touch the Fish Pictures
Each time we see ‘Touch the fish’ pictures posted on social media, my heart sinks. It is very upsetting that, in many cases, many of these divers are in diving heaven, swimming with schools of whale sharks, mantas, dolphins, etc but they then treat these places as if they were their own, personal playgrounds.
This practice shows a lack of awareness and caring to the underwater environment – the opposite of everything one learns in scuba diving courses.
Avoid ‘Touch the Fish Pictures’ at all costs – they are uncool and totally against scuba diving best-practice and ethos.
3. Not switching from snorkel to regulator when descending
Newbie divers, unless supervised, quite often get this wrong. They deflate the BCD but simply forget to switch from the snorkel to the regulator before decending.
Remember, the snorkel has a maximum depth use of no more than 20cm – underwater, your regulator is your lifeline.
4. Wearing your mask on your forehead
So you’ve spent a good $100 on a brand new dive mask. You’ve prepared it, you’ve fitted a cool cover to the strap, you jump into the water, you go for a dive, and it's fantastic.
You then get back up to the surface, put the mask on your forehead and afreak wave unbalances you and splashes it off. All you can do now is watch a very expensive dive mask slowly spiral down to the dark blue water below.
During your Open Water course, you are taught to wear your mask around your neck when not in use. Observe this practice unless you want to be replacing masks on a regular basis.
5. Skipping the buddy check
Remember that forgoing a buddy check takes a shortcut on safety and increases the chance of having to solve a problem in the water. Picture this scenario: You are all kitted up, you look at your buddy and simply say: “Let’s go diving.” Everything seems fine until you are in the water and discover that you forgot your fins, your buddy’s tank is loose, or something even worse. What would have taken 2 minutes to fix up on land is now a much bigger job in the water, delaying your dive, increasing stress levels, and at worst, putting your or your buddy’s life in danger.
The buddy check will give you the last opportunity to make a final inspection of both your equipment and your buddy’s to make sure you’re both ready to enter the water and do NOT enter the water before it is done.
The standard PADI pre-dive safety check uses the acronym BWRAF which stands for BCD/buoyancy, weights, releases, air, and final ok. Revisit your dive manual if you need to brush up on the details.
6. Neglecting gear service
When maintained properly, dive gear can last for years – if not maintained, equipment replacements while cost you a fortune, while never forgetting of course the very important consideration that you are taking major risks with your life. Imagine having saved up all year for your annual dive holiday on for you to arrive at the resort location to find that you have an equipment problem. What was meant to be the dive holiday of a life time has been tarnished: you have to use equipment which is not your own, perhaps a little worn and definitely unfamiliar.
Follow your equipment manufacturer's recommendations and enjoy that all equipment is cleaned, maintained and serviced as suggested.