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By Ian Scott
Since the early 20th century, scuba diving has gone from an incredibly risky undertaking, well out of reach for all but the fabulously wealthy, to a relatively safe sport with a rapidly-growing participant community.
Scuba is an acronym derived from Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, named for the tanks and other gear which divers carry on their backs allowing them to breathe underwater.
Although this essential “life-support equipment” and a commitment of real training is necessary in order to become safe and proficient enough with it to dive, even in a small lake or quarry, technological advancements and improvements in science and engineering have enabled longer times underwater, deeper dives, and reduced danger in this exhilarating activity enjoyed by athletes and nature lovers.
Having originally been popularized by Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan, who built the Aqualung (a name still used in Britain to describe scuba equipment today), scuba is now enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, ranging from locations as temperate tropical waters to under-ice sub-arctic diving for scientific purposes or by adventure seekers. Unsurprisingly, the sport has a strong following in the UAE.
Many people are unaware of the length of time necessary to attain scuba proficiency and certification. The dominant worldwide organisation involved in certification is the Professional Association of Dive Instructors, or PADI. But in the United States, there is also the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) while in the UK there is the British Sub Aqua Club, or BSAC.
Depending on the course, new divers can get certified in as little as three to four days of actual instruction - since the courses are based on performance standards and not on hours of instruction, this number can be higher or lower. Also, if a diver wishes to do more technical and dangerous dives or to use more advanced equipment, more training would be necessary in order to ensure safety.
Anyone who enjoys vacations to tropical areas or who appreciates nature and enjoys the water can now consider scuba diving, thanks to the advances mentioned in science and engineering, as well as the establishment of standardised certification and training programs worldwide. If you’ve never considered it, much more information is available online to help you decide if scuba makes sense for you.
* Ian Scott is an experienced diver, and he loves to travel. When he is not searching for long lost treasures, he writes for thescubaguide.com - a phenomenal resource for anyone interested in cave diving, scuba gear, dive skins and more.