Thursday, June 30, 2011

Science Diver Training Day 5 (Part 1 – Deep Diving)

To seemingly make up for Monday’s "day off," (we took two exams in the morning and then did CPR/First Aid training in the afternoon) we dove four times Tuesday.

It was absolutely exhausting.

Sometimes I forget how draining diving can be. The gear itself is heavy: an Aluminum tank weighs a little over 20 pounds empty and then divers need to add more weight via a weight belt or integrated pockets in their BCD to make sure they’re neutrally buoyant. So hauling around that gear is no easy task. Not to mention that your body is working overtime trying to stay warm while you’re in the water.

Exhausting as it may be and as physically tired as I get while I’m out there, I don’t think I’ll ever actually get tired of diving.

Our first dive was a deep dive south of Gurnet Rock. With Sonya as my partner, we dove to 111 feet, through a cloud of comb jellies, to reach the bottom. I don’t know why the gorgeous Bermudian waters keep surprising me, but I really could not believe the amount of light that reached us at 111 feet.

No exaggeration: When I did my deep dive in New England, we had to follow a rope to 100 feet, watching our gauges and holding on to the rope/our buddy the whole way so as not to get lost in the pitch black water. We each had two dives lights, just in case, and huddled around the rope and our dive master for fear of losing the each other in the murky darkness.

My previous experiences were pretty much the antithesis of this deep dive, where we were still happily bathed in sunlight as Alex had us write our names backwards on a slate to test our coherency.

When diving to great depths, some divers “get narced,” or rather experience nitrogen narcosis. Jacques Cousteau once referred to the condition as the “rapture of the deep,” it causes euphoria, anxiety, and loss of concentration and coordination. While it sounds like a good time (I’ve never gotten narced, but apparently it’s similar to getting laughing gas at the dentist) some divers are actually affected by this drunken-like state as shallow as 66 feet and can stop caring about their own well being as well as the safety of divers around them.

Fortunately, no one in our group was affected, so we all got to stay at the bottom to watch the next awesome and totally-scientific-and-relevant-I-swear demonstration... 

Do you know what happens if you crack an egg 100 feet underwater?
No, that’s not a riddle.

Fun fact: it stays in EXACTLY THE SAME SHAPE! It's awesome! Forrest brought some eggs down in a Tupperware container and cracked them using my diving knife. It’s absolutely awesome to see, actually. You can swirl the egg around with your hand and it still just stays together.

I felt a bit like an astronaut, seeing as how that’s also what happens when you crack an egg in space.

Next stop of the day: another wreck dive, woo!

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