About Snorkeling

snorkeling-03Snorkeling is swimming on the top of the water, using diving mask, shaped tube (snorkel) and fins. It helps you to see the world under the water. If the water is cold, you will wear wetsuit.

Snorkeling is a sport that is performed in locations for scuba diving. The primary goal is to see the life under the water and after all to have a fun. It is not difficult to learn how to handle equipment for snorkeling.

Scuba divers perform snorkeling when they are on the surface.


The first mention of the term ’snorkeling’ is by Aristotle. He said that divers use ’instruments for respiration’ which is similar to the elephant’s trunk.

The snorkel

The dimensions of the snorkel tube are about 30 centimeters long, and have inside diameter between 1.5 and 2.5 centimeters. The shape of the tube is like letter L or J. The snorkel tube is used for breathing when your face is under the water. It is an equipment which is attached the snorkel to the outside of the strap of the diving mask.

There are many types of snorkel tube just like those who have length of 40 centimeters. Longer tube will not allow breathing when you are in deeper water because when you are deeper the pressure is higher. Lungs will not be able to inflate when the snorkeler inhales, because the muscles that expand the lungs are not strong enough to work against the higher pressure.

When the snorkel tube is long and snorkeler is in deep water then it may lead him to respiratory dead space. Because, when he inhales in the snorkel tube can remain previously exalted air and if he inhales it this will cause build up of carbon dioxide in blood and this can cause hypercapnia.

Flooding and clearing

The most recognizable type of snorkel is one with a simple tube that allow to flood underwater. User expels water from the snorkel with a strong exhalation when he are returning to the surface.

Some snorkels have some kind of reservoir in the mouthpiece, and this allows to small volume of water to remain in the snorkel without any chance to be inhaled. Some snorkels have valves attached to the top end of the tube and this keeps water out when a wave passes. This can be problem when diving because the snorkel must be equalized by diver’s inhaled air. Some types of snorkel can have deflector that guides water that splashes over the open tube to the outside of the tube. This keep the tube free from water.

There is a problem with a clearing mechanism because they are not good if they are not used for a long period or user didn’t maintain them properly.

Natural rubber can oxidize if it is exposed on the sun. It can lose flexibility and become brittle and may have deep scratches. Because of that, many users prefer to use silicone rubber because it is more resistant to degrading and can be longer in service.

Beach sand, floating plants or animals residues can also damage your equipment, so you must maintain your equipment properly.

Those who use snorkel must previously learn how to breath and float on the surface of the water without snorkel, to prevent problems if the snorkel clearing mechanism fails.

The dive mask

Snorkelers use the same mask as scuba divers. The mask is used because it enables the snorkeler to see the world under the water. All masks have the lenses that are known as a faceplate, but there are many types and shapes and they are made from different materials.

The practice of snorkeling

There are no special rules when we talk about the snorkeling. When someone want to go snorkeling he or she doesn’t need to go to special training, all they need to know is to swim and to breathe through the snorkel. For safety reasons there are some instructions by to tour guide or equipment rental shop. They usually warn users about fragile organisms such as corals which can be destroyed by snorkelers.

Snorkel vest

Some locations for snorkeling have prescribed rule for their visitor. Those rules say that every snorkeler must wear inflatable vest. Those vests are usually bright yellow or orange and have device which allows users to inflate it to desired level to float easier.

There are also wetsuits when the water is cold and they provide users to float without resistance to submersion. In tropic areas there are rush-guard which must be worn to protect skin from the sun.

Safety precautions

The biggest danger for snorkelers are jet skis and speed boats. Snorkelers are submerged in the water and they have no ability to see what is going on above the surface. Water vehicles can be danger because they are quiet and snorkeler can not hear it in right moment. Some areas prohibit water vehicles because those locations are intended for snorkelers. In areas that doesn’t prohibit water vehicles, snorkelers should wear some highly reflective outfits or to have flags.

Snorkelers skin on the back can be exposed to sun and can be easily burned if they watch the underwater life for a long time. It can be prevented by wearing t-shirts or wetsuit that can block the sun.

Dehydration can be another problem. Before going in the water snorkelers must bring water if they want to snorkel for several hours. Proper hydration will prevent cramps. Another unpleasant situation that snorkelers can experience is hyperventilation and for this reason it is good for snorkelers to go watch underwater life in pair. It is good to have buddy next to you when it comes to hyperventilation.

When someone snorkel near the coral reefs he must be aware of sharp corals and its poisonous inhabitants. For this reason, snorkelers should wear gloves and surf shoes to prevent to get hurt.

Every snorkeler should avoid contact with corals because they are usually very fragile. Some corals will never recover and growth of the others can take decades. Snorkelers should save environment.

Snorkeling locations

Snorkeling watching fish in Cozumel, Mexico

Snorkeling is possible in almost every water but snorkelers love to go to locations where they can have warm water without waves and something really interesting to see under the water.

Shallow reefs are ranging from sea level for about 1 to 4 meters and they are favorite place for snorkelers. Deeper reefs are also interesting but it requires better skills in snorkeling and  greater physical fitness.

Variants and related activities

  • Bog snorkeling: Individual sport that is popular in UK and Australia.
  • Free-diving: Different forms of diving but without breathing apparatus.
  • Scuba diving: Form of the amusement diving using a portable breathing apparatus.
  • Spearfishing: Fishing with a spear. Those who go to spearfishing often use snorkeling equipment.
  • Underwater hockey: Sport played in swimming pools. Those who play underwater hockey, use snorkeling equipment, sticks and a puck.
  • Underwater rugby: Team-sport played in deeper swimming pools. Those who play underwater rugby use snorkeling equipment, baskets and a ball.

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