Underwater diving can be described as all of the following:
- A human activity – intentional, purposive, conscious and subjectively meaningful sequence of actions. Underwater diving is practiced as part of an occupation, or for recreation, where the practitioner submerges below the surface of the water or other liquid for a period which may range between seconds to the order of a day at a time, either exposed to the ambient pressure or isolated by a pressure resistant suit, to interact with the underwater environment for pleasure, competitive sport, or as a means to reach a work site for profit or in the pursuit of knowledge, and may use no equipment at all, or a wide range of equipment which may include breathing apparatus, environmental protective clothing, aids to vision, communication, propulsion, maneuverability, buoyancy and safety equipment, and tools for the task at hand.
The scope of this portal includes the technology supporting diving activities, the physiological and medical aspects of diving, the skills and procedures of diving and the training and registration of divers, underwater activities which are to some degree dependent on diving, economical, commercial, safety, and legal aspects of diving, biographical information on notable divers, inventors and manufacturers of diving related equipment and researchers into aspects of diving.
Introduction to underwater diving
Surface-supplied divers riding a stage to the underwater workplace
Underwater diving, as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment.
Immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure have physiological effects that limit the depths and duration possible in ambient pressure diving. Humans are not physiologically and anatomically well adapted to the environmental conditions of diving, and various equipment has been developed to extend the depth and duration of human dives, and allow different types of work to be done.
In ambient pressure diving, the diver is directly exposed to the pressure of the surrounding water. The ambient pressure diver may dive on breath-hold, or use breathing apparatus for scuba diving or surface-supplied diving, and the saturation diving technique reduces the risk of decompression sickness (DCS) after long-duration deep dives. Atmospheric diving suits (ADS) may be used to isolate the diver from high ambient pressure. Crewed submersibles can extend depth range, and remotely controlled or robotic machines can reduce risk to humans.
The environment exposes the diver to a wide range of hazards, and though the risks are largely controlled by appropriate diving skills, training, types of equipment and breathing gases used depending on the mode, depth and purpose of diving, it remains a relatively dangerous activity.
Diving activities are restricted to maximum depths of about 40 metres (130 ft) for recreational scuba diving, 530 metres (1,740 ft) for commercial saturation diving, and 610 metres (2,000 ft) wearing atmospheric suits. Diving is also restricted to conditions which are not excessively hazardous, though the level of risk acceptable can vary.
Recreational diving (sometimes called sport diving or subaquatics) is a popular leisure activity. Technical diving is a form of recreational diving under especially challenging conditions. Professional diving (commercial diving, diving for research purposes, or for financial gain) involve working underwater. Public safety diving is the underwater work done by law enforcement, fire rescue, and underwater search and recovery dive teams. Military diving includes combat diving, clearance diving and ships husbandry.
Deep sea diving is underwater diving, usually with surface supplied equipment, and often refers to the use of standard diving dress with the traditional copper helmet. Hard hat diving is any form of diving with a helmet, including the standard copper helmet, and other forms of free-flow and lightweight demand helmets.
The history of breath-hold diving goes back at least to classical times, and there is evidence of prehistoric hunting and gathering of seafoods that may have involved underwater swimming. Technical advances allowing the provision of breathing gas to a diver underwater at ambient pressure are recent, and self-contained breathing systems developed at an accelerated rate following the Second World War. Read more...
How to use this portal
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- Portal:Underwater diving is a work in progress, intended to provide a doorway to our articles on underwater diving in an intuitive and user friendly layout. Please suggest improvements if you have good ideas. Some may be possible with current technology, others may require new tools.
- The portal comprises:
- An introduction section, which defines the scope of the portal, provides an introduction taken from the main article for the topic, and this explanation of how to find articles about the topic.
- A set of sub-topic sections. The header for each section provides the sub-topic title, and the section contains a collapsible outline list of the subtopic articles and a randomly selected excerpt from one of them.
- A list of recognised content – The best quality articles in this topic on Wikipedia.
- A slideshow gallery of images from Wikimedia Commons, many of which are used to illustrate the articles.
- A collapsible category tree. The tree can be opened and closed by clicking on the arrowheads.
- The navigation boxes for this topic. Each collapsible list provides links to related article in a logically connected group. These groups often overlap. The navigation boxes are also found at the bottom of each article in the associated group.
- A list of related projects on Wikipedia, with an incomplete list of things that must still be done in this topic area.
- A list of related portals
- Outline of underwater diving is a hierarchical list of all the articles.
- Index of underwater diving is an alphabetical list of the articles. It has sub-indexes for some of the associated groups of articles, such as:
- The Glossary of underwater diving terminology is an alphabetical list of terms commonly used in diving and their meanings in this context. A useful quick reference. A definition will often contain a link to a detailed main article, or a section of an article on the term.
Category:Underwater diving and the associated subcategories should also list all the articles, probably in a different hierarchical structure to that used for the portal and outline list. Sometimes the category system can be more appropriate for finding information. It is also helpful for maintenence of Wikipedia and keeping track of the connectedness of articles.
If you have unlimited time and no special target, you can go down the rabbit-hole – Read the topic root article Underwater diving, and click on any link that looks interesting. Read until you find another interesting link and click on that, otherwise click your browser arrow to go back, and carry on. Stop when reality intrudes or you get bored, tired, thirsty or a fire breaks out.
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Index to diving procedure articles
- Diving procedures – standardised methods of doing things that are known to work effectively and acceptably safely
The practice of decompression by divers comprises the planning and monitoring of the profile indicated by the algorithms or tables of the chosen decompression model, to allow asymptomatic and harmless release of excess inert gases dissolved in the tissues as a result of breathing at ambient pressures greater than surface atmospheric pressure, the equipment available and appropriate to the circumstances of the dive, and the procedures authorized for the equipment and profile to be used. There is a large range of options in all of these aspects.
Decompression may be continuous or staged, where the ascent is interrupted by stops at regular depth intervals, but the entire ascent is part of the decompression, and ascent rate can be critical to harmless elimination of inert gas. What is commonly known as no-decompression diving, or more accurately no-stop decompression, relies on limiting ascent rate for avoidance of excessive bubble formation. Staged decompression may include deep stops depending on the theoretical model used for calculating the ascent schedule. Omission of decompression theoretically required for a dive profile exposes the diver to significantly higher risk of symptomatic decompression sickness, and in severe cases, serious injury or death. The risk is related to the severity of exposure and the level of supersaturation of tissues in the diver. Procedures for emergency management of omitted decompression and symptomatic decompression sickness have been published. These procedures are generally effective, but vary in effectiveness from case to case.
The procedures used for decompression depend on the mode of diving, the available equipment, the site and environment, and the actual dive profile. Standardized procedures have been developed which provide an acceptable level of risk in the circumstances for which they are appropriate. Different sets of procedures are used by commercial, military, scientific and recreational divers, though there is considerable overlap where similar equipment is used, and some concepts are common to all decompression procedures. Read more...
Index to articles on the history of underwater diving
The history of underwater diving starts with freediving as a widespread means of hunting and gathering, both for food and other valuable resources such as pearls and coral, By classical Greek and Roman times commercial applications such as sponge diving and marine salvage were established, Military diving also has a long history, going back at least as far as the Peloponnesian War, with recreational and sporting applications being a recent development. Technological development in ambient pressure diving started with stone weights (skandalopetra) for fast descent. In the 16th and 17th centuries diving bells became functionally useful when a renewable supply of air could be provided to the diver at depth, and progressed to surface supplied diving helmets - in effect miniature diving bells covering the diver's head and supplied with compressed air by manually operated pumps - which were improved by attaching a waterproof suit to the helmet and in the early 19th century became the standard diving dress.
Limitations in mobility of the surface supplied systems encouraged the development of both open circuit and closed circuit scuba in the 20th century, which allow the diver a much greater autonomy. These also became popular during World War II for clandestine military operations, and post-war for scientific, search and rescue, media diving, recreational and technical diving. The heavy free-flow surface supplied copper helmets evolved into lightweight demand helmets, which are more economical with breathing gas, which is particularly important for deeper dives and expensive helium based breathing mixtures, and saturation diving reduced the risks of decompression sickness for deep and long exposures.
An alternative approach was the development of the "single atmosphere" or armoured suit, which isolates the diver from the pressure at depth, at the cost of great mechanical complexity and limited dexterity. The technology first became practicable in the middle 20th century. Isolation of the diver from the environment was taken further by the development of remotely operated underwater vehicles in the late 20th century, where the operator controls the ROV from the surface, and autonomous underwater vehicles, which dispense with an operator altogether. All of these modes are still in use and each has a range of applications where it has advantages over the others, though diving bells have largely been relegated to a means of transport for surface supplied divers. In some cases combinations are particularly effective, such as the simultaneous use of surface orientated or saturation surface supplied diving equipment and work or observation class remotely operated vehicles.
Although the pathophysiology of decompression sickness in not yet fully understood, decompression practice has reached a stage where the risk is fairly low, and most incidences are successfully treated by therapeutic recompression and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Mixed breathing gases are routinely used to reduce the effects of the hyperbaric environment on ambient pressure divers. Read more...