March 2022

Air guages and air guage tester

Reducing air consumption, extending the fun

If you are interested in starting diving, new to diving or someone who gets through their air during a dive like a pig gets through a bucket of custard, then read on.

When I started diving 13 years ago, I noticed I got through a 12-litre tank of air pretty smartish. I initially put it down to being quite a big chap who liked the occasional drink and cigarette so I thought there was little I could do about it. As I became more comfortable in the water, my air lasted longer during a dive but the habits remained for a few more years. In my case, the main factor for the reduction of air usage during a dive was being relaxed in the water rather than a variation in normal fitness levels.

As most people who have passed their open water course know, air usage during a dive is measured by SAC rates (Surface Air Consumption). Your surface air consumption rate is a measurement of the amount of air you consume while breathing for one minute on the surface. You need to know your SAC rate so you can safely plan your dive or to notice any gear malfunctions in good time under the water. If not already done so, you will learn this on your dive courses and more in depth on any technical courses you sign up for.

Dive students, or divers who just want a tour, sometimes have large breaks between dive trips or courses and find their SAC rate has dramatically increased. At DIVERS FIRST, we often quickly go over simple techniques that quickly improve the SAC rate for the next dive.

The first one is preparing for the dive slowly. Getting into a tight wetsuit or dry suit when the sun is shining can often leave you short of breath. This, in combination with getting into your BCD and lifting heavy equipment, already ensures your SAC rate will be elevated. So take it slowly.

Always remember to breathe normally avoiding increased breathing rates before the dive and if you can do some deep breathing exercises even better. Diaphragmatic breathing is a good technique on the morning of the dive. Diaphragmatic breathing involves fully engaging the stomach, abdominal muscles and diaphragm when breathing. This means actively pulling the diaphragm down with each inward breath. In this way, diaphragmatic breathing helps the lungs fill more efficiently.

Additionally, you can try and concentrate on breathing out longer than you breath in when you are underwater through the regulator. At first, try to aim for a couple of seconds longer with the outward breath than the inward breath, then take it from there. Be cautious at first as overdoing it can lead to overexertion. 

As always, try to get a good night’s sleep, avoid alcohol the day before and always consult your doctor before using diaphragmatic breathing on a consistent basis.

Implementing simple techniques as mentioned can extend your dive time, reduce the need for additional air and heavier tanks and the feeling of freedom that you are in complete control of your air usage on your dive. Additionally, you won’t need to spend 12 months in the gym to get that perfect SAC rate. Looking forward to seeing you at DIVERS FIRST Cyprus.

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Divers First Crane

Why has Cyprus got some of the most beautiful clear waters?

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter you will always have a degree of fantastic visibility compared to other places in the world here in Cyprus. Ranging from about 10 meters (usually after rain storms, or a dark winter’s day) to around 50 meters or more (summer, autumn) but you can still sometimes get crystal clear water in the depths of winter. Not only is this fantastic for keeping an eye on your buddy, having confidence in diving and viewing wildlife from a distance, but it also gives you guaranteed fantastic photo opportunities, which is not always the case in other regions of the world.

I am no Geologist, but why has Cyprus got such clear water for us to dive in? For those who have already completed their open water bear with me. The term that relates to water clarity is called Turbidity, which is a visual determination of water clarity. Turbid water will appear cloudy and murky. Suspended solids and dissolved colored material reduce water clarity by creating a cloudy muddy appearance. Turbidity measurements are sometimes used as an indicator of water quality based on clarity and estimated total suspended in the water column (this would not be the case in an estuary, delta or a water column near a large rainwater drainage system that may be deposited from farm land, for instance).

The Mediterranean has very little tidal flow from external bodies of water except for the straits of Gibraltar, the Red Sea and the Black Sea but is relatively very little so sea flow exchange is very small. This water exchange is important for nutrient supply such as phytoplankton and Algae but because the exchange is so small, it makes the Mediterranean very clear, especially the waters of Cyprus in the middle of the eastern Mediterranean. These microscopic flora and fauna have a direct impact on the turbidity, and therefore their lack of, leads to clear seas around Cyprus. Additionally, in the Mediterranean we have plenty of light and CO2 for phytoplankton to thrive but there is a lack of phosphorus, which minimizes phytoplankton production.

Of course, there are many other contributors to the turbidity of the water, but none have such an impact as the microscopic particles in a large body of water.  

In general, the lack of algae and phytoplankton is stated to have an effect on the size of fish in the Med but try telling that to the barracuda shoals, lovely rays, groupers, cornet fish and the endless species that inhabit the coastal waters of Cyprus. So, carry on with the beach clean ups and picking up the bits of trash as you glide through the water, if any is found, to enhance our lovely clear seas. Don’t forget your camera but if you do, we can take the pictures for you here at DIVERS FIRST Cyprus.

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