Why Does a Diver Need a Wetsuit When Scuba Diving?:
Let's face it. Squeezing yourself into a black rubber suit in the blistering tropical sun isn't anyone's idea of a good time. Where I live in the Caribbean, most first time divers are hesitant to don a wetsuit. The water feels so warm that they cannot imagine becoming chilled during a dive. Yet, water conducts heat away from the body about twenty times faster than air does. For example, 78˚ F air may seem balmy (or even hot), but 78˚ F water may eventually cool a diver who does not use a wetsuit. Any water cooler than body temperature has the potential to eventually chill a diver, or even induce hypothermia!
Wetsuits also provide a certain degree of protection for scuba divers from accidental coral scratches or contact with other aquatic life. Remember that while it provides protection, a wetsuit (or drysuit) does not give a diver free license to touch or brush against coral or other organisms. Divers can usually do more injury to aquatic life than aquatic life can inflict upon divers.
Why Does a Wetsuit Keep a Scuba Diver Warm?:
Wetsuits trap a thin layer of water against a diver's body. While the diver still gets wet, his body rapidly heats up the thin layer of water trapped against his body to nearly body temperature. If the suit fits properly, the warm layer of water does not circulate away from the diver's body.
So how does a wetsuit make it possible for a diver's body to heat up the water filling the suit? Wetsuits slow heat loss using a thick layer of rubber (neoprene) filled with tiny air bubbles. The insulating properties of the rubber/bubble combination reduce heat loss from the water in the wetsuit and therefore the diver's body.
The thicker/ more insulating the wetsuit, the less heat will be lost. The better the fit the less water will circulate out and be replaced by cool water that will need to be reheated by the diver's body. Wetsuit fit and thickness work together to keep a diver warm under water.
Wetsuits are not perfect. The warm layer of water trapped against a diver's skin still conducts some heat away from the diver's body, and it loses some of its warmth through the neoprene wetsuit. Given enough time, a diver wearing a wetsuit may still become chilled, depending upon the type and characteristics of his wetsuit. In colder temperatures or on very long dives, a wetsuit may not be sufficient to keep a diver warm, and a drysuit may be a more appropriate choice. Consider the following when selecting a wetsuit for a given dive environment:
1. The Tighter the Wetsuit, the Warmer You Will Be:
2. The Thicker the Suit, the Warmer You Will Be:
More Scuba Diving FAQS:
• How Deep Can You Dive?
• What Is There to See on a Night Dive?
• What Is the Difference Between DIN and Yoke Regs?