Scuba diving offers people the opportunity to see what life is like below the water in lakes and oceans. The word "scuba" is an acronym for self contained underwater breathing apparatus, and divers wear equipment that allows them to stay below the water's surface for long periods of time. The majority of people enjoy diving for recreational purposes, to see the beauty that lives in the ocean waters. Some descend into the depths of the waters for commercial, scientific, and military purposes as well.
While some divers enjoy diving in lakes, and a few will explore a river's waters, when most people think of scuba diving, they think of exploring pristine ocean waters. People who are interested in this sport should take a beginner's diving class, where they will learn the skills required, including equipment usage, defense techniques, and ocean awareness training. Classes are offered at many facilities worldwide to help minimize the risk posed by the dangers facing divers.
All scuba divers wear and use the same general equipment, though some people in colder areas will add equipment as well. The primary equipment pieces are fins, a mask, a tank, gauges, and a watch. Depending on the water's temperature, divers will also wear a wet or dry suit, a hood, and gloves. The tank worn on a diver's back supplies air to the person while he or she is in the water. Depth and pressure gauges provide divers with vital information about their whereabouts and their condition. A watch and compass will also assist the person while he or she is under water.
Recreational divers enjoy exploring the ocean's beauty. They typically examine sharks, fish, whales, dolphins, sea turtles, shipwrecks, and more. Divers will also come across innumerable beautiful ocean plants, anemones, and similar ocean life during their travels. Beginning divers can practice the basics in shallow water or in pools. Once in the ocean, beginners rarely will be allowed to venture beyond a depth of 60 feet (18 meters).
Commercial divers typically use their scuba skills to aid corporations in their preparation for projects such as ocean oil drilling and bridge construction. Scientists also make use of this equipment to study the multiple components of marine biology. Special forces in the military are trained as divers to provide the United States military with scuba expertise when called on.