Scuba Terminology – Say This, Don’t Say That

Want to make a scuba diver cringe? Say any of the following words: goggles, flippers, or oxygen tank.

Journalists, travel bloggers, friends and family take note. Here’s how to properly speak scuba.

Never say: oxygen
Say: air or breathing gas
Asking a diver, “how much oxygen do you breathe” is a dead giveaway you know zero about scuba diving. Divers use air, or breathing gas. Technical divers might use trimix, and certified Enriched Air Divers sometimes refer to their breathing gas as nitrox.

Never say: oxygen tank
Say: scuba tank or cylinder
As every certified diver knows, the air we breathe here on earth is only 21 percent oxygen. So it’s incorrect to say a diver breathes from an oxygen tank. The correct terminology is: air tank, scuba tank, bottle, or cylinder. The only time a diver might breathe from a tank containing pure oxygen is at the surface following an emergency.

Never say: flippers
Say: fins
Scuba divers and freedivers wear fins, not flippers. Fins come in many shapes and sizes and are an essential part of any diver’s kit.

The word flipper can refer to:

  • a cooking utensil
  • an appendage marine animals and mermaids have
  • a famous dolphin

…but never the equipment divers wear over their feet.

Never say: goggles
Say: mask
Swimmers wear goggles. Scuba divers use masks specifically made for exploring underwater at depth.

  • Scuba mask lenses are also made of tempered glass or other strong composite materials that can handle intense pressure. This is why you don’t want to use a snorkeling mask when diving.
  • Unlike swim goggles, scuba masks have a wide field of vision and an enclosed nose pocket.

Here’s a Mini Scuba Dictionary

BC or BCD = a buoyancy control device
A scuba BCD is basically a vest with an air bladder. BCDs are designed to help divers achieve neutral buoyancy underwater by adding or removing air to the bladder.

C-Card = certification card
Certified divers receive a scuba diving license known as a “c-card.” This plastic or electronic scuba certification card includes the diver’s photo, certification level, course completion date and certifying instructor. If the diver completed scuba refresher training, such as PADI’s ReActivate™, there may be a sticker or other information documenting the completion date of that activity.

DAN = Divers Alert Network 

When divers talk about DAN and PADI®, they’re not talking about a guy named Dan and a lady named Patricia. Divers Alert Network, known as DAN, is an important member of the diving industry. DAN promotes safe diving through research and education. They also offer dive accident and travel insurance. PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is the world’s leading dive training organization.

Divemaster vs. Master Diver vs. Master Scuba Diver
You may have heard someone say, “my friend is a master diver.” They’re probably talking about someone who is either a PADI Master Scuba Diver™ or divemaster. PADI does not have a master diver rating (but the United States Navy does).

A divemaster assists with scuba diving courses and leads guided dives. Every instructor was once a divemaster. Some divemasters are also PADI Master Scuba Divers, but they’re two different achievements.

Regulator and Octopus
You may have to listen closely to know whether a diver is talking about a cephalopod or their dive gear. The hoses that supply air from a diver’s scuba tank are called the octopus or “octo.” A mouthpiece connected to the octo is called a regulator, or second stage.

Open Water
When people say they want to become a diver or learn to scuba dive, what they’re describing is the Open Water Diver course®. An open water diver certification allows you to dive on your own with another certified diver.

It’s slightly confusing because there is a PADI Scuba Diver course. PADI Scuba Divers may only dive under the direct supervision of a PADI Professional to a maximum depth of 12 metres/40 feet. Learn more about the difference between PADI Scuba Diver and PADI Open Water.

Now you know the basics of speaking scuba. If you have questions about scuba diving terminology, contact a local PADI dive shop.


Blogger: Megan Denny
Videos: Paditv

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