Witherspoon 1Cody WitherspoonMs.TilleryBritish Literature14October2011 Scuba Diving Dating back to the 1st Century humans have been fascinated with exploring the oceanand finding ways to be able to stay under water longer. Until the past few centuries humanbeings were limited to the surface of the Earth’s oceans by rowing ships and other watercraftacross the top of water. Some cultures began using long hollow reeds as snorkels to supply thefree diver with oxygen under the surface, but they were limited to shallow water. This and theinvention of the diving bell, among others increased the time allowed underwater but alsocreated a deep desire for further exploration of the oceans. Over the centuries diving equipment grew more and more advanced allowing people todive longer and to greater depths. In 1535 Guglielmo de Loreno created the diving bell, whichwas a helmet that air could be trapped inside, during its time it was very popular with scientistsand navies. Later Loreno found the flaw with the diving bell after he died from carbon dioxidepoisoning, the bell could only hold a certain amount of clean oxygen and after a period of time adiver using the bell would begin to breathe their exhaled air.
Other diving inventors learned from this mistake and the innovation continued to hosesfed to contained suits from a ship, tanks with compressed air, and eventually to the invention ofthe self contained under-water breathing apparatus also known by the acronym S.C.U.B.A. In1943 Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan, created the first scuba suit and named it theAqua Lung, their invention made popularity among the average people increase exponentially.When it first came out a scuba rig could be used by anyone that could afford one, not requiringany formal training or education. This is when the world would see the beginning of recreationaldiving among non scientists and civilians. Long before scuba diving became a thriving recreational sport there had been cases ofdecompression sickness, commonly known as the bends, which is a condition that causes seriousinjury and sometimes death. Without proper knowledge of the effects on the human body atdepth, and training for emergency situations as well as the ascent process people were gettinghurt frequently in the beginning of recreational diving. Decompression sickness occurs when adiver’s nitrogen level exceeds their oxygen level in the person’s blood, because the deepersomeone goes and the longer they stay there the more nitrogen their bodies absorb. The nitrogenenters the blood stream as a liquid but what makes it dangerous is when there is enough nitrogenin the body it becomes a gaseous bubble, which can cause air embolisms. The most commonsites for these air embolisms are the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle which gives the victim abent shape and extreme pain, hence the common name the bends. It is extremely important that when diving one does not hold their breath at depth, anairway must always be open whether inhaling or exhaling. If a person takes a breath at a certain
Witherspoon 3depth, holds that breath and then ascends to a shallower depth the pressure on their bodydecreases. The air in the lungs would then need somewhere to decompress to because the lungsonly have a set amount of air capacity so the air escapes. It will move from the lungs throughveins in the form of an air bubble to different parts of the body via the blood stream. These bubbles are called air embolisms and are very serious as well as highly dangerous.If these bubbles spread to vital organs like the brain or the spine this can cause paralysis andoften death. The only way to help these embolisms pass through and out of the body eliminatingthe danger is to get the victim to a hyperbaric pressure chamber immediately. In this chamber itputs the same amount of pressure on the victim’s body as if the person were under water, when itdoes this it allows the air embolism to pass back through the blood stream and rid the body of thecondition. After becoming highly popular with the public, people started to form divingorganizations that educated and instructed anyone that paid for a course. Places like PADI andSSI are among the leading diving schools in America and across the world, these organizationsteach and certify thousands every year in recreational scuba diving. It is important that scubaschools such as these have been established to teach people about the dangers of diving and howto use tools such as dive tables and computers as well as the rest of standard dive equipment. The average dive equipment setup would consist of a mask, fins, snorkel, wetsuit,buoyancy compensator, air regulator, an 80 cubic foot air tank, dive computer or depth gauge,and emergency alternate air regulator. Since the invention of the Aqua Lung in 1943 standarddive equipment and technology have evolved enormously. For example dive computers havealmost caused the naval dive tables to become irrelevant. These tables help divers plan their
dives to avoid going to deep for too long and helps prevent the over consumption of nitrogen gasduring a dive. Also the tables show a diver how many dives in one day they can execute as wellas how long the person would need to wait to dive before or after flying in an airplane. The divecomputer does all this and more, functions such as depth, time, amount of air left, temperature,nitrogen levels, decent/ascent rate and other very useful and advanced features. The standard compressed air tank for a recreational diver measures 80 cubic feet andfilled to 3000 pounds per square inch of air. The two types of materials used to make these tanksare steel and aluminum. It is important that tanks are professionally inspected each year of use,and properly maintained at all times. The human lung cannot breathe that much compressed airdirectly, that is why with each regulator there are two stages or parts of it. The first stage collectsair straight from the air tank and decompresses it to a lower level, but after air passes through thefirst stage it is still not ready for human consumption. The air leaves the first stage and goes tothe second stage which would be in the diver’s mouth and makes it safe for the person to breathethis air, all of this occurs each time the diver takes a breath. When diving the diver must use a system of weights to keep them negatively buoyant sothe person can dive down and not float at the surface. Weights can be kept in a weight belt orusually the buoyancy compensator has pockets for these weights to be stored. The use of weightsalso helps in an emergency situation where the diver needs to get to the surface as fast aspossible, this speedy ascent is dangerous but sometimes necessary. To ascend to the surface thediver will simply ditch their weights and inflate their buoyancy compensator to becomeimmediately positively buoyant. In the world of scuba diving there are various career paths one could choose to pursue.
Witherspoon 5Oceanographers and marine biologists use diving as a way to study marine life in their naturalenvironment and map the ocean floor. The navies of nations all across the world have diveprograms that perform special operations, structure salvage missions, search and rescue missions,and a number of other tasks. Commercial diving is a high demand industry that oil companies depend on to repair oilrigs off the coast, whether changing a bolt at 150 feet or using an atmosphere suit to go down600 feet and repair drills and pumps using hyperbaric welding they do it all. Diver’s like theseare also used in the repair of bridges over rivers inland, as well as recovering ships or vehiclessunk to the bottom of the water. A degree from a commercial diving school can be obtainedrelatively fast as compared to four year schools, and the graduates almost immediately beginwork in their field of choice. One of the most popular career choices in the diving industry is diving instruction, whereone could specialize in technical diving, deep diving, cave diving and countless others. Aninstructor would be trained through a dive organization and start their own shop and lead divetrips, or become affiliated with working dive shop or school. Diving in the ocean and seeing things no other person has seen, interacting with themarine life, seeing 18th Century Spanish shipwrecks, it is definitely a whole new world.Breathing underwater is a sensation everyone should experience at least once in their lives, aswell as visiting a beautiful reef and watching how everything works together to co-exist. 71% ofthe Earth is covered with water, why not explore it? Works Cited Benchley, Peter. "Cuba Reefs." National Geographic May 2005: n. pag.
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