Kapital reef snorkels - great for snorkelers--available @ kirkscubagear

What A Scuba Diver Or Snorkeler Needs To Know About A Snorkel

The snorkel is a “J” shaped tube with a mouthpiece on the short end. It allows a scuba diver or snorkeler to breathe on the surface with their head underwater.

The snorkel is such a simple piece of equipment; and is vital for both snorkelers and scuba divers.

A snorkel allows a swimmer to float on the surface with their head underwater and breathe at the same time.

Connecting A Snorkel To The Face Mask

The snorkel should not be held in place by placing it under the mask strap as this can break the seal of the mask onto the face and let in water.

When snorkeling, the snorkel should be positioned on the left hand side of the face. This is because when scuba diving the scuba regulator comes over the right shoulder. This is an international standard, so if a snorkeler graduates to scuba diving, they will be used to having the snorkel on the left hand side.

Why Can’t A Long Snorkel Be Used For Deep Diving

A common question that some beginner snorkelers ask is “why can’t a long snorkel be used to dive deep?”
This sounds like a logical question. Get a 30 foot hollow pipe, put one end in the mouth, keep the other in the air and swim down to 30 feet.
However, the problem is related to the change in pressure that impacts on the body as a snorkeler or scuba diver descends below the surface.

The principle is that for every feet below the surface, the pressure increases. Therefore, the lungs must work harder to drag the air from the surface into the lungs. The deeper the snorkeler goes, the harder it will be to breathe. So this is why snorkels are so short and only used on the surface.

Using A Snorkel Scuba Diving

A snorkel is a useful item when scuba diving. It should be used when on the surface at the beginning and the end of a scuba dive, instead of using up precious air from the tank.

However, occasionally it can be better to ditch the snorkel and use the regulator to take air from the tank. This is mainly when there is rough chop on the surface either at the beginning of the dive waiting for the dive buddy to enter the water. Or at the end of the dive waiting to get back on the dive boat.

Breathing off the tank with the face mask on and buoyancy compensator full can reduce any anxiety of having waves smashing into face and filling the snorkel.

Positioning The Snorkel While Scuba Diving

The snorkel is redundant when underwater on scuba. This has led to a practice where some divers take their snorkel off their face mask strap and position it somewhere else. They might shove it behind their weight belt, or inside their buoyancy compensator. Another common place is to strap it to the leg with their scuba knife.

This practice is up to the individual, and depends on their ability and the type of diving. If it is rough on the surface, it might be wise to have the snorkel strapped to the mask so it is readily available.

If performing Dive master duties, it is recommended that the snorkel be left connected to the mask strap as it could be easily accessible if needing to provide assistance to other divers when on the surface.

Thanks to suite 101 and Bruce Iliff.

Kathy Dowsett



About Kathy Dowsett

I believe in protecting our oceans, lakes and rivers, as well as their aquatic life. I respect the work of conservation groups such as Save the Sharks, Save the Sea Turtles and Save our Wrecks. I believe that the use of plastic bags/bottled water should be discouraged as plastic finds its way to the ocean. I also support Diving for the Disabled and Swimming for the Disabled. As a PADI-certified diver, my interest in diving led to the opening in July 2008 of kirkscubagear, my online business. My site offers more than 2,000 products, including freediving, swimming and outdoor equipment. My continuing goal is to encourage diving and offer customers a shopping alternative for the purchase of scuba gear.

One response »

  1. Jonathan L says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive post! I’m a beginner myself and I was wondering why they didn’t have longer snorkels for diving, but you’ve answered my question =)

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