Snorkeling vs scuba diving: which is better?

The long debated question: scuba diving vs snorkeling, which is better?

Snorkeling is a popular activity whereby the person swims at the surface with a mask, snorkel and fins. While diving, you have added equipment including a BCD (buoyancy control device), tank, dive computer, wetsuit and weights. Using this equipment, you can go down to a given depth. On a Discover Scuba Dive, the maximum depth is 12 meters, Open Water Divers can reach 18 meters and Advanced Open Water Divers can plunge even further to a depth of 30 meters. 

 

Snorkeling in Muscat

Snorkeling at Daymaniyat Islands

You can snorkel with little experience of being in the water. Whereas, diving can take some theory and practical experience before getting the hang of it. If you aren’t confident in the water, you can wear a life jacket to keep you afloat while you snorkel. It’s also possible to gain experience snorkeling to build your confidence before going diving. You don’t require a certification and snorkeling can be done nearly everywhere. On the other hand, diving requires you to get certified and when you dive in a new place you should ideally dive with a professional diver to be on hand at all times to act as a guide. 

 

 

Scuba Diving around Oman

Scuba Diving in Oman

To start scuba diving, it’s important that you have the right equipment and perform pre-dive safety checks. You need to learn the theory behind diving safely and then put it into practice. For instance, how to perform safety stops for three minutes at five meters, conduct buddy checks, and be able to remain neutrally buoyant. While this sounds complex, divers from their second dive are able to do this successfully. 

 

 

Diving allows you to immerse yourself in the underwater world for an extended period of time. Most snorkelers can get tired easily and will remain in the water for shorter than an average dive. While it takes longer to start to dive and is more expensive, the rewards are immense. When it comes down to it, when comparing snorkeling vs diving, it will mostly depend on personal preference. 

 

At Aura Divers, we’re here to help you with all your diving and snorkeling needs in Oman. Contact us for more information or to book. 

 


6 Steps If Separated From Your Dive Buddy

Your dive buddy is your lifeline underwater. They can me a second set of eyes and support if anything goes wrong. But there are occasions where you might lose sight of each other. Say if you get separated during a dive with low visibility, or if you are focused on your compass only to look up and realize that your buddy swam in the other direction.

What should you do if you’re separated from your diving buddies?

1- Establish a lost-buddy pre-dive plan.

Remember to always make a lost-buddy plan part of your pre-dive check, especially when diving with a new buddy or a stranger. Agree on how long you’ll search for each other underwater (usually one minute) and then agree to end the dive (after making your safety stop) and reuniting on the surface.

Remember to arm you and your buddy’s buoyancy compensater (BCD) with the essential emergency gear like SMB and whistle.

2- Stop and slowly turn 360 °

As soon as you notice that you cannot see your dive buddy, stop where you are, establish neutral buoyancy, and do a slow visual 360° spin. Also look both upwards and downwards to check whether they have ascended or descended. Try spotting your buddy’s bubbles, if possible.

3- Use a signaling device

Use your tank-banger or another audio signaling device to get your buddy’s attention. He or she may be able to locate you by following the direction of the sound.

If you have a dive light on you and visibility is low, use the light while doing your slow spin. The light can be used to grab the attention of your buddy who could be behind any underwater features like big rocks.

4- Start Ascent

After the agreed time (around 1 minute), start your ascent while repeating the 1-minute turn with noise and light at every safety stop

5- Deploy your delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB)

While at your safety stop, deploy your delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) or so that your buddy can easily spot you if he is searching for you at the surface.

If you’re doing a boat dive this will also aid the boat crew in locating you.

 

6- Wait at the surface

At the surface, wait for your buddy to emerge while continuing to look for the air bubbles or DSMB. If the weather is good chances are you will be able to spot them. However if your buddy is taking too long to surface do not re-descend, instead inform the boat crew or dive center as soon as possible that your buddy is missing.

 

 


Jellyfish Season in Oman

Swimmers, divers and casual beach goers are advised to watch out for jellyfish when they venture into the sea.

As the temperature rises and the water along Oman’s coastline gets warmer, Jellyfish numbers increase. See the prolonged onshore winds drive the jellyfish shore wards. Some sting but many don't.

These passed few year though, there has been sightings of the more dangerous verity. They are rare, but do occur here in Oman primarily between the months of March to June, and people have been stung on a few occasions. These jellyfish could cause more serious public health problems and are worth keeping an eye out for.


Crambionella Orsini

A reddish white jellyfish known by locals as Doll Jellyfish are especially abundant. Especially seen in the Daymaniyat islands and Al Fahal Islands. Luckily they are non toxic. Though not harmful, an exposure to these jellyfish can lead to skin irritation and redness.

 


Box Jellyfish

This venomous jellyfish looks like a plastic bag with four two-meter long tentacles that are extremely stinging. It is at its most dangerous when it is hunting, as they can stretch their tentacles for a wider reach. They are painful and may cause low blood pressure or difficulty in breathing.

 

 


Bluebottle Jellyfish (Man O’ War)

These highly venomous jellyfish have been found in the waters between Al Mughassil Beach in Salalah and Taqah Beach. They float on the surface with a bubble of air in them, and their tentacles can be tens of meters long. As a swimmer, you get entangled in the tentacles before you actually see the animal because they can be five or six meters away, and due to their colour it's practically transparent in water. These beautiful but deadly jellyfish have been known to cause deaths, so seek immediate medical care.

 


Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of jellyfish stings include:

  • Burning, prickling, stinging pain
  • Red, brown or purplish tracks on the skin — a "print" of the tentacles' contact with your skin
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Throbbing pain that radiates up a leg or an arm

Severe jellyfish stings can affect multiple body systems. These reactions may appear rapidly or several hours after the stings. Signs and symptoms of severe jellyfish stings include:

  • Stomach pain, nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or spasms
  • Weakness, drowsiness, fainting and confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart problems

Getting someone out of the water quickly that has been stung by one is very important. People can suffer shock and fear and are not able to get out on their own.

How to treat a jellyfish sting:

  1. Remove the victim from the water. If the species is identified as a particularly dangerous one, like the ones mentioned above, alert the emergency services.
  2. Wash with vinegar to neutralise the stinging cells. Do NOT rinse with fresh water or urine and avoid rubbing the affected area as this will trigger the stinging cells to release their venom and intensify the pain.
  3. Keep the victim still and avoid elevating the affected area to avoid toxins spreading through the body.
  4. Remove any visible tentacles using sterile tweezers, forceps or gloves and rinse area thoroughly with salt water to wash away any remaining nematocysts (stinging cells).
  5. Immerse the affected area in hot water or apply a heat pack (approximately 45°C) to reduce the pain. Some physicians may also recommend painkillers, anti-inflammatory or topical anesthetic may also be used.

 

Call these numbers in case of emergency while in Oman

Emergency call to Royal Oman Police – 9999

Ambulance services – 9999