Snorkeling usually lives in the shadow of its better-known cousin, scuba diving. Yet, snorkeling is actually easier and less expensive than scuba diving, and can be done in many bodies of water just about anywhere.
Snorkeling has a long and varied history. There is evidence that underwater sponge farmers in Crete used hollow reeds as the first form of snorkeling as early as 3000 B.C. Today's advancements with plastic and rubber make snorkeling easier than ever before. Individuals of all skill levels can take to the ocean and see the sights below the water's surface. It's an ideal activity for recreation, be it on vacation or more often for those who live near the water.
Individuals who are new to snorkeling should first become accustomed to wearing the equipment. It can take some getting used to wearing a mask and breathing solely through a tube in the mouth. Start in shallow water to get a feel for wearing the equipment and clearing water from both the mask and snorkel, which can occur with breaking waves.
Clearing a snorkel generally involves exhaling strongly into the snorkel tube to force the trapped water out of the end. Some snorkels come with a built-in drainage valve that pushes water out a one-way valve. To clear a mask, lift your face out of the water and pull the mask away from the bottom of your face to let the water drain out. Some masks have a one-way valve that lets water out but does not let water in. Snorkelers can clear a mask of water by simply blowing air out their nose while the mask is on.
Next, practice swimming where you cannot touch the bottom of the sea floor. This will give you a chance to try out your swim fins. Fluttering the fins slightly can produce a lot of forward propulsion and move you around quite efficiently.
More adventurous snorkelers can dive completely under the water for a deeper look around. Return to the surface and clear your snorkel afterward.
If ever you become tired while swimming, float on your back to give your legs and arms a rest. Other safety precautions to take include the following:
* Stay close to the shore. Beginners often over-estimate their stamina and can tire quickly. Routinely look around to be sure you're not venturing too far out.
* Snorkel with a partner. Don't snorkel alone. Have a partner around that can signal for help in the event of an emergency.
* Don't touch the marine life. You may encounter sea creatures that have some sort of self-defense. Do not risk injury to yourself or the animals by touching them. Most fish and other underwater creatures will steer clear of snorkelers.
* Watch out for your surroundings. It's easy to get tunnel vision while snorkeling. You may venture too far or end up bumping into coral or another obstacle and risk injury.
* Know basic first aid and CPR. Learn how to resuscitate an individual, something important when swimming.