Why Do Scuba Divers Wear Snorkels?

Last Updated: February 15, 2023

Some people might find it confusing to see scuba divers with snorkels. Divers carry a supply of oxygen on their back for the dive. The point of snorkel appears to be useless. However, it is more important than you imagine. It also offers many benefits to its users.

A snorkel is like a piece of emergency equipment for the divers. It helps the divers breathe on the surface without depleting their air supply.

By doing so, divers can conserve the air for deeper descent and have a longer dive time in their hands.

Read on to learn the importance and benefits of carrying a snorkel when scuba diving.

What is the Point of Having a Snorkel Underwater?

scuba diver wearing snorkel

As mentioned, a snorkel helps in breathing near the surface without the help of the air tank. It also acts as a backup air supply if there is a shortage near the end of the dive or you face equipment failure.

A snorkel might look like a useless piece of equipment for a dive, but it can have a lot of benefits in the time of need.

Helps Save Air Supply

When you jump off the boat to begin the dive, you might not be alone. You will have to wait for the entire group to jump in before you can begin the descent.

In that case, you should not start using your air tank. It will reduce your dive time, and you won’t be able to enjoy a deeper descent. Therefore, using a snorkel near the surface can help you breathe while everyone jumps in the water.

Also, there is a possibility that the entry and exit point is distant from the boat. In that case, you will be required to swim to and from. The snorkel will help you swim comfortably without struggling for air at the end of your dive.

A snorkel adds a stress-relieving factor too, as you will always know you have some backup air in case you have to wait.

Helps Check Water

A snorkel also helps you give proper checking to the water. You can check for the clarity and the current before you begin your dive.

It helps you stay ahead in terms of safety. You can scan the surface carefully and thoroughly to understand the water’s condition before you go for a deeper dive.

Helps in Surface Swimming

Since the primary use of the snorkel is near the water’s surface, it has a definite benefit in surface swimming.

You don’t have to cut through your tank supply if you have a snorkel. Especially when the water conditions are a bit unpredictable or harsh, having a backup air supply cannot harm.

How Long Can You Stay Underwater with a Snorkel?

Depending on how good you are at utilizing the benefits of a snorkel, you can adjust your time intervals during a swim.

If you are surface swimming with your head underwater and the top of the snorkel outside, there is no limit. You can go as long as you want without worrying about running short of breath. Your air supply with be constantly maintained, and you can enjoy the swim.

If you take a deeper dive or submerge yourself with the top of your snorkel in water, you have about 45 seconds to 1 minute before you resurface.

Some breathing exercises can increase this time. The idea is to increase lung capacity for a better and longer submerged experience.

Here are a few breathing techniques that you can practice to increase your lung capacity.

Improve Oxygen Levels

If you wish to improve oxygen levels in your lungs, you need to alternate between breathing and holding your breath for a specific time duration.

Start by holding your breath for a minute and breathing normally for the next minute. Keep doing the same while increasing the duration to hold your breath by 5 seconds in each cycle.

Increasing Carbon Dioxide Levels

If you wish to increase carbon dioxide levels in your lungs, you have to perform a similar breathing pattern as mentioned above.

Start by holding your breath for one minute and breathing normally for the next two minutes. Continue this while you keep reducing the time of your normal breathing for five seconds in each cycle.

Can You Breathe Underwater with a Dry Snorkel?

A dry snorkel is pretty similar in its appearance to any other snorkel in the market. The difference lies in the mechanism by which it keeps the water out of the system.

As the name speaks for itself, a dry snorkel does not allow water to enter inside it. Even if you submerge it or get washed out by a wave, you do not have to worry about getting flooded.

Dry snorkels contain a floatation device that can move in order to shut the air supply. It means the moment there is a change in movement around the surroundings or the breathing tube gets hit by water, this flotation device will move upwards and block the path of air.

As a result, no or minimal amount of water will enter the breathing tube.

This feature of dry snorkels eliminates the need to keep the breathing tubes clear.

Though it might sound fancy and attractive, breathing through these snorkels can be a bit challenging.

Final Thoughts

Diving with a snorkel will do no harm. It is not an unnecessary piece of equipment as most people think. It is an important safety gear that you can always rely on.

You can use it in times when you can manage without the oxygen supply. It is helpful especially when you need a backup supply or face any unexpected equipment failure.

It is also a great add-on, when you are diving with a group or your diving point is quite distant from your boat.

Even though not everybody might get sold on the idea of wearing a snorkel when scuba diving, this article will hopefully help you decide if a snorkel is the right gear for your next dive or not.

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