Believe it or not, scuba diving is one of the safest sports in the world.  Statistically speaking, you’re much more likely to die from driving a car, skydiving, running a marathon, playing basketball, or even giving birth.  But to many people, scuba diving seems scary and dangerous.  Learn the truth about these scuba diving myths and start thinking about trying diving yourself!

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I’ll be eaten by a shark!

Or stung by a jellyfish, or bitten by a sea snake, or swallowed by a whale!  Calm down there, Jonah.  The chances of being injured by an aquatic animal are very low, and the chances of dying from one are minuscule.  Most diving injuries and deaths are a result of the diver’s bad decisions, like ignoring depth limits or not checking their air supply or diving while drunk.  (Yes, really.)  So long as you aren’t poking and prodding every potentially dangerous animal you see, you’ll be fine.  In fact, most divers get excited about seeing ‘dangerous’ creatures!

It’s so scary!

Diving can seem daunting to newcomers, and for good reason.  Strapping a metal can of air onto your back and breathing through a straw-sized tube does actually sound a little freaky—but then again, so does an airplane ride if you describe it as sitting in a pressurized metal tube and jettisoning through the air.  Yet most people aren’t afraid of airplanes, and you shouldn’t be afraid of diving either.  Once you get over the initial oddness of breathing through the regulator (that’s the part that goes into your mouth and gives you air), you’ll be so excited about the fish and coral and shipwrecks that you’ll forget all about being scared.

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I might die!

Just 1 in every 211,684 dives ends in a fatality—that’s less than 0.0005% of dives.  Even relatively safe hobbies have risks.  Skiers can crash into a tree and die.  Ice fishermen can fall through the ice and drown.  Even birdhouse builders can step on a nail and get a deadly blood infection.  Scuba diving, like all hobbies, carries its own risks of injury and death.  As in most areas of life, diving is perfectly safe so long as you are prudent and responsible about it.

How does one become a prudent and responsible diver?  It’s actually pretty easy.  Stay within the limits of your training, and check your air often so you don’t run out.  Stay hydrated, and avoid drinking copious amounts of alcohol or doing drugs the night before.  Don’t dive if you’ve got a cold, sinus infection, or heart problems.  And don’t get on a plane a few hours after diving.  Did those rules sound hard for you?  No?  Then you probably won’t have any problems.

Learning to dive is difficult and takes a long time!

Not true at all!  Anyone can try a dive with a guide in just a few hours, and you can become a certified diver in as little as three days.  As for being difficult, it depends on the person, but most people have little trouble mastering the skills required for certification.  These skills are simple and easy to perform, but important in case of underwater emergencies.  You don’t even have to swim well!  Even children, paraplegics, quadruple-amputees, and blind people can dive.  If they can do it, so can you.  The key is to stay calm, and the rest will come easily.

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It’s so expensive!

This one’s partly true.  Diving isn’t cheap.  Buying a full set of entry-level diving gear will cost around $2000, and if you don’t buy your own gear, equipment rentals are often around $40 a day.  You also have to pay for plane tickets, lodging, boat trips, and air tanks.  Diving can be expensive, which is probably why many people consider it a hobby only for wealthy retired folks.

But the truth is, the costs of diving are surprisingly comparable to other hobbies and sports.  A diving trip is probably about as expensive as a ski trip to Colorado or a spring break trip to Cancun.  It’s not cheap, but it’s doable.  Plus, diving gear is very sturdy and often lasts for decades.

Diving classes can also be expensive, but they don’t have to be.  Many dive shops offer discounted classes through Groupon, Living Social, or other websites.  And if you start working or volunteering at a dive shop, all the diving and classes are free!

 

Photo Credit: Safari Partnerscftcouncil and riekiss