There’s nothing quite like the moment you backroll into the water for your first dive.
You’ve gone through your training, earned your C-Card, and know that the underwater world is now your oyster.
It’s just up to you to overcome any last anxieties, hold your nose if you need to, and jump right into the water.
But there is so much more to scuba diving than just the act itself.
There’s a rich history to diving that is worth exploring for divers and diving fans alike, because there is so much to learn and appreciate about the craft.
And who knows?
Maybe it’ll teach you something about the way you dive today.
How Deep Was The Deepest Scuba Dive In The World?
The current Guinness World Record holder for deepest scuba dive is Ahmed Gabr, who dove 1,090 feet and 4.5 inches in the Red Sea in 2014. This shattered the previous world record, which was set in 2005 by Nuno Gomes, a South African diver who plunged 1,044 feet off the very same coast, located near Dahab, Egypt.
Gabr, who was 41 at the time, prepared for 4 years for this dive, in order to execute it perfectly and safely, and went into it with 17 years’ worth of experience as a diving instructor under his belt. Not one to jump into anything unprepared, he submitted his intent to break the world record a year in advance.
The record-breaking dive itself lasted only 12 minutes going down – but took almost an entire day to safely bring the former Egyptian Army special forces officer back to the surface.
Given the risks involved with rising too quickly, as well as the added dangers of water pressure at that depth, it was a necessary step for Gabr to take.
Sharks only attack people when mistaking them for prey, as they actually find humans unpleasant tasting.
Perhaps for this reason, it is more likely that you’ll be struck by lightning or die from a falling coconut than die in the jaws of a shark.
How Long Is The World Record For Longest Dive?
If you thought spending 14 hours underwater for the world’s deepest scuba dive was a long time, think again.
Diver Cem Karabay spent a whopping 192 hours, 19 minutes, and 19 seconds underwater in 2016, earning himself the record for greatest amount of time submerged in open saltwater. The dive took place at Yavuz Çıkarma Beach in Cyprus, and broke the previous record, which was also set by Karabay, by about double.
Clearly, this is not Karabay’s first rodeo.
In fact, the Turkish diver has entered into the Guinness World Records four times, and is responsible for the record set in 2011 for longest scuba dive in a controlled environment, when he spent over 192 hours submerged in a pool.
You might be surprised.
While in the pool, Karabay continued about his daily life, playing backgammon, chess, and football with his team.
But it wasn’t all fun and games. Karabay had to be weighed down when he slept, so he would not resurface and disqualify himself according to Guinness World Records guidelines.
Furthermore, his 20-person team had to regularly moisturize his limbs with a special blend of various lotions to keep his skin properly nourished.
In the end, it was all worth it. Karabay’s health was reviewed at the end of his dive at a local hospital and, once he was confirmed healthy, he was awarded his certificate for breaking the record.
These two record-breaking dives just go to show that when safety precautions are treated extremely seriously, scuba diving can be quite a diverse and expansive activity.
While that doesn’t mean you have to go in with the intent to dive for the longest time possible, or try to break Gabr’s record for the world’s deepest scuba dive, it does mean that the extent to which you can dive is quite impressive if you take the necessary precautions, have the right training, and are not afraid of a little teamwork.
What Is The Earliest Record We Have Of Humans Diving?
But diving goes much further back.
As a matter of fact, we can find mentions of snorkeling and diving throughout various historical artifacts.
There are, of course, the various records of people using reed pipes to breathe underwater. The most notable perhaps being Scyllias and Cyana of Greece, who escaped Persian King Xerxes by sneaking away underwater, using reeds as breathing devices so they could remain hidden.
Archaeologists have also uncovered an ancient depiction of an Assyrian man using an animal skin inflated with air, while underwater, and date it to around 900 B.C.E.. But there is debate as to whether this qualifies as diving.
So, what’s the oldest evidence that humans dove?
In the book, Deep Diving & Submarine Operations, author Sir Robert Davis purports that the discovery of mother-of-pearl inlays from 4500 B.C.E., uncovered through archaeological excavation, is the earliest proof we have of people diving.
Archaeologists believe that these shells, incorporated in the remains of ancient Mesopotamian civilizations, could only have been retrieved from the sea floor, making this the earliest record we have of people diving.
How Dangerous Is Scuba Diving, Really?
Statistically, scuba diving is actually much less dangerous than driving, skydiving, and even running a marathon. According to the National Safety Council in a study done between 1975 and 2003, 1 out of every 126,626 marathon runners in a given race died of a cardiac arrest while running. Furthermore, 1 in 116,666 skydives included fatalities in a 2000 study by the United States Parachuting Association.
Even more startling a statistic is the number of deaths from car accidents that occurred in a 2008 study by the U.S. census. 1 out of every 5,555 registered drivers in the U.S. died in an accident. Meanwhile, only 1 in 211,864 dives includes a fatality, according to the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) 2010 Diving Fatalities Workshop Report.
By the sounds of this, it might be worth turning in your car for some scuba gear.
But before you make that risky financial decision, there are dangers to scuba diving that are worth some consideration.
For one, pre-existing conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity, as well as temporary conditions like allergies or the common cold, can all affect a diver’s safety and ability to perform.
According to the Divers Alert Network, the three most reported diving injuries and illnesses are ear and pulmonary barotrauma, decompression sickness (the Bends), and marine envenomation.
Some ways to avoid these common problems include exhaling properly while ascending, ascending at a proper pace (not too rapidly), and avoiding contact with wildlife.
Where Do People Scuba Dive The Most?
The ocean, of course!
More specifically, there are many great diving spots off the coast of Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Galapagos, Belize, Hawaii, Florida, California, Mexico, and even British Columbia.
Indonesia was voted as the #1 spot for Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans by the 2016 Top 100 Readers Choice Awards from Scuba Diving. A notable spot is Cape Kri in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, which features a record-breaking 374 species of fish.
Australia also has some iconic spots, like the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, and Yongala Wreck. The only catch is that you must have a Recreational Scuba Diving Medical Certificate, which can be acquired by consulting a local doctor.
The Great Blue Hole, off the cost of Belize, is another notable spot. It is perfectly circular, as deep as 354 feet, and about 62 miles away from Belize City. It was also one of Jacques Cousteau’s top 10 places to dive, and features remarkable underwater stalagmites and stalactites, from when the Hole was an enormous above the ground cavern.
Unfortunately, for less experienced divers, when it comes to scuba diving, the Great Blue Hole is only available to divers who have completed a minimum of 24 dives.
The future of scuba diving now lies in our hands.
We don’t need to compete with the world’s deepest scuba dive, or use reed pipes like our ancient ancestors did. But with the knowledge we can glean from their experiences diving, we can all learn a little more about what it’s like to dive.
Remember to always stay safe out there, to “follow the bubbles” and maintain steady breathing, and to enjoy the sights of the underwater world that scuba diving allows you to explore.
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