Diving occupies a complex place in modern recreational and competitive sport and as a professional vocation at any level. It also has a complex place in the popular imagination and in popular culture. Non-divers tend to think of one or more of three things when they think about diving and divers; tropical fun dives filled with exotic fish, navy heavy gear divers in Mk.V hats, and the underwater explorations carried out by Jean Cousteau. The idea that a diver could be living next door or up the road never really occurs, and given the relatively low penetration of sport diving into the general population, people are always surprised to find a diver. Usually after asking “Where do you dive?” (inland divers and cold water divers hear this a lot), the next question that comes up is “Why?”, which is a question with a thousand answers, each different to to each diver. So what are some of the reasons to dive? These are my big three:
Diving is an adventure that has known and mitigable risks. It’s as risky and as interesting as you want to make it; and provided that you dive within your training, limits, and experience, it’s an adventure you regularly come back from. It’s easy to build a trip or vacation around diving, and it’s something that you always have in your back pocket. The spirit of adventure is second only to that of exploration in diving.
The old canard is that we know more about outer space than we do about our oceans. I can’t verify this, and off the top of my head, the finite oceans and bodies of Earth are peanuts compared to the finite reaches of outer space. That said, we’re only just scratching the surface (no pun intended) of ocean exploration and sciences. Exploration is a huge part of diving, and one that never disappears. The best part about it is that any diver can get involved in exploration and research, at both the lay level as a self taught or directed naturalist, or as a scientific diver in an academic environment. Every dive can bring new discoveries, and being a part of a select few to see first hand the underwater world is an amazing feeling in of itself!
Diving is something that can very quickly blossom from an interest into a full blown passion. In my case, is like throwing a lit candle into a pool of kerosine. The best part is that everyones passion is a bit different. Some relish the challenge of a dive site for experienced divers. Others fall in love with photography. Active divers almost all have a passion, and are mor ethan willing to share it with anyone who asks!
Diving means a lot to a lot of different people. One of the new reasons to dive is therapy, something that will be covered in a future post! Well, this concludes the first post in the new Diving Culture category, I hope you enjoyed it! Be on the look out for more posts in this category, covering a wide variety of topics.