Photo: Shutterstock/Ethan Daniels

A Tech Diving Primer

by Morgan deBoer Sep 9, 2010
These schools of technical diving should get you primed for big adventure.

THE FIRST RECORDED diving bell appeared during the ancient Greek era. Since then, humans have been finding more and more sophisticated ways to dive deeper and explore the ocean.

“Technical diving” is a term for advanced diving that exceeds recreational diving’s ordinary limits of depth and complication. Unique equipment, enclosed places and decompression techniques are all common in technical diving.

Here a brief overview of four main disciplines of the tech diving world:

1. Deep Diving

Ordinarily, divers can only stay underwater for a limited time before nitrogen buildup in their bloodstreams puts them at risk for the bends. Deep divers counteract this by using special gas mixes and allowing excess nitrogen to bleed off during planned decompression stops.

In July 2005, South African Diver Nuno Gomez broke the Guinness Record for the deepest scuba dive at 1,044 feet in the Red Sea, with a total dive time of 19 hours and 6 minutes. Pascal Bernabé claims to have since beaten this record, but Guinness no longer verifies deep dives because of safety concerns.

Where to learn: IANTD’s deep diver program is geared towards divers wishing to dive below 130 feet.

2. Cave Diving

Safely exploring totally or partially submerged caverns and their unique flora, fauna, and rock formations requires more experience and equipment than recreational open water diving. Part of this risk stems from cave dives being penetration dives, diving in an area with no direct path to breathable air, making emergency exits complicated.

Where to learn: The National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section (NSS-CDS) offers courses to certify divers in cave diving, as well as specialties like deep cave diving.

3. Ice Diving

Another type of penetration diving. Ice divers need special equipment to create an entrance into the ice and drysuits to survive the cold temperatures.

Where to learn:NAUI’s Ice Diver course requires participants to possess an advanced SCUBA certification and have completed 50 logged dives.

4. Wreck Diving

Not all wreck diving is technical, but because many sites require deep diving or penetration, there are courses in technical wreck diving available. Earlier this year, divers found the oldest drinkable champagne in the world while exploring a shipwreck in the Baltic.

Where to learn: Technical Diving International and PADI both offer courses in wreck diving, as well as other technical disciplines.

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