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Dive Theory

Simple Explanations of the Physics and Physiology of Scuba Diving


A major problem exists with any open water course. Although a scuba instructor teaches his students how to react to common emergency scenarios, he cannot anticipate every potential problem that his students may face underwater. A good instructor introduces student divers to the rules of safe diving, but more importantly, he focuses on the concepts behind those rules. The goal is that scuba diving students graduate with a working knowledge of the physics and physiology of diving, as well as the ability to apply that knowledge to unexpected situations. This page lists concepts that every scuba diver needs to understand to dive safely. Scroll down to see an overview of topics, or click on the link that interests you below.

How to Equalize Your Ears
How Does Pressure Effect Scuba Divers?
Buoyancy Basics for Scuba Diving
• How to Calculate Your Air Consumption Rate
Understand Nitrogen Absorption - The Sponge Analogy

Equalize Your Ears

Image copyright istockphoto.com, Tammy616

As a professional diver, people ask me all the time “Doesn't scuba diving hurt your ears?” Many potential divers have experienced ear pain when diving down in a swimming pool because they did not properly equalize the pressure in their ears. These people are worried that they will experience the same sensation when scuba diving. Relax, most people can equalize their ears easily with the techniques outlined in this article. Read more

How Does Pressure Effect Divers?

female scuba diver
Image copyright istockphoto.com, Tammy616

How does pressure change underwater and how do pressure changes effect aspects of scuba diving such as equalization,buoyancy, bottom time, and the risk of decompression sickness? Review the fundamentals of pressure and scuba diving, and discover a concept no one told me during my open water course: that pressure changes more rapidly the closer a diver is to the surface. Read more

Buoyancy Basics for Scuba Diving

Underwater photo of a female scuba diver in warm tropical water
Image copyright istockphoto.com, Mark_Doh

Understanding buoyancy is key to safe and easy scuba diving. While the concept of buoyancy may be confusing at first, it becomes clearer when we consider how buoyancy effects scuba divers and what divers need to know to properly control it. Here is a definition of buoyancy, an overview of how it applies to diving, and step-by-step explanation of how to control buoyancy on an average dive. Read more

How to Calculate Your Air Consumption Rate

© istockphoto.com, Tammy616
A diver's air consumption rate is a useful in many ways - in dive planning, in evaluation of stress, and in identifying faulty dive gear. Learn how to calculate your air consumption rate and how to use it to plan dives.

Understanding Nitrogen Absorption - The Sponge Analogy

Photo of sponges
Image copyright istockphoto.com, popovaphoto

A diver's body absorbs nitrogen during every dive. Understanding nitrogen absorption is important for recreational scuba divers because many of the safe diving practices are based on this concept, such as maximum allowable dive times, flying after diving rules, and ascent rate recommendations. The sponge analogy will help you to understand the fundamentals of nitrogen absorption. Read more

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  6. Scuba Diving Theory - Physics and Physiology Concepts Essential for Safe Scuba Diving

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