One of the fundamental skills first taught to any new diver is the art of buoyancy control. Most people generally gained their first taste of buoyancy as a child, learning to swim. Taking deep breaths caused them to float, while exhaling caused them to sink. This idea is taken into diving, with the aid of specialised equipment, to advance the enjoyment of the dive as divers are able to control their movement in the water, while maintaining neutral buoyancy.
What is neutral buoyancy?
Neutral buoyancy is the seemingly weightless feeling in the water between negative buoyancy, which causes an object to sink, and positive buoyancy, causing the object to float. When diving, it is soon discovered that altering or adding equipment soon changes a diver’s buoyancy in the water. The addition of weights, either in weight belts or pockets, are designed to counteract these changes allowing the diver to obtain neutral buoyancy.
It is widely accepted that buoyancy control is one of the most vital skills when diving, allowing safer and more enjoyable dives whilst also reducing fatigue. In a survey of scuba diving accidents in Australia and New Zealand, 52% of the fatalities had buoyancy problems, with 40% being more than 2 kilograms negatively buoyant on the surface. In most cases this was caused by weight belts being too heavy.
The amount of weights required to obtain neutral buoyancy varies on the type of suit chosen to dive in and whether the dive will take place in freshwater or saltwater. However, once the skill is mastered dives will become notably more enjoyable and effortless.
Why is buoyancy important
There are numerous reasons as to why buoyancy is so important, which includes the protection of marine species. Scuba divers are causing substantial damage to the world’s coral reefs, which in a lot of cases is due to the diver’s lack of buoyancy control, meaning they are negatively buoyant. This causes the diver to drag their fins over the corals, in turn killing them. As the urgent need to protect our oceans is becoming more apparent, having a high level of buoyancy control is an easy way to not damage underwater environments unnecessary.
Buoyancy is therefore a fundamental part of diving and allows for a more enjoyable dive experience as well as increasing the safety of the dive. Once the skill is mastered it will last the whole of a diver’s career, making it well worth the time spent practicing. If you are keen to learn more about buoyancy, or would benefit from a session in the pool to practice, contact the DiveLife team.
Our Courses are all RAID, and as such there is no Buoyancy Specialty, it is included in every course, if you are coming from a different agency and want to start playing with RAID......we recommend doing the Performance Diver Course, it's a great equaliser and instantly puts you on par with those around you. This course can be tailored to your level and we can run this from Single Cylinder Recreational to Full Trimix CCR.