Diving into the Depths: 10 Tips for Deep Scuba Dives

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Female diver at a safety stop

The definition of deep diving will change on the person that you ask and what they think deep diving is.

For those of you that are going through an agency, each one will have different certifications and standards.

For some, it is the type of diving whether it is recreational, technical, or commercial diving.

Scuba divers descending deep into the water

Issues like nitrogen narcosis can start as shallow as 100 feet (30M), and hypoxic breathing gas is needed below 200 feet (60M) to reduce the risk of oxygen toxicity.

So by some people’s standards even beyond 100 feet could be deep diving.

I will go into all the different definitions, risks, safety measures, and tips below.

How Deep Can You Dive?

This varies from person to person and a lot of variables will come into play while determining your depth for a dive.

Some things to consider are your physical health, mental health, how many dives you have been doing, and how long you will stay at the desired depth, to name a few. Besides the personal limitations, you need to be highly trained as well.

Setting diving limits is personal, but your training will help you to set your dive limits. While a certificate gives you the ability to join dives that you are certified for, it does not always mean you should dive to those depths.

Always make sure you have a dive plan, the correct equipment, and a good dive buddy. Deep diving is best done with a buddy and not solo.

Deeper diving is great to explore a wreck or a cave but can be risky and you need to weigh your training and the situation at the dive site. When poor decisions are made scuba diving accidents take place. Keep to your limits and get trained

Scuba divers doing a Gear Check

Deep Diving by Agency

Deep Diving by PADI Standards:

  • PADI diver starts with the Open Water Diver course and gets certified to dive at depths of up to 60 feet (18M).
  • Advanced Open Water Diver can dive to 100 feet (30M).
  • The PADI Deep Diver course certifies you to dive 130 feet (40M) and the course includes the following skills.:
    • Deep dive planning
    • Buddy contact procedures
    • Safety considerations
    • Buoyancy control
    • Nitrogen narcosis management
Scuba diver giving "ok" signal under water

Deep Diving by BSAC Standards:

  • BSAC diver starts with the Ocean Diver course and gets certified to dive at depths of up to 66 feet (20M).
  • Sport Diver can dive to 115 feet (35M).
  • BSAC doesn’t have a special deep diving course but you can train to become a Dive Leader to depths of up to166 feet (50M).

Deep Diving by NAUI Standards:

  • NAUI diver starts with the Open Water Scuba Diver course and gets certified to dive at depths of up to 60 feet (18M).
  • Advanced Scuba Diver can dive to 130 feet (40M).
  • NAUI has a Deep Diver and technical diving courses for those who want to dive deeper than 130 feet (40M) which train you on decompression procedures including nitrogen narcosis and decompression sickness.
Tech Diver with four tanks

Deep Diving by SSIStandards:

  • SSI diver starts with the Open Water Scuba Diver course and gets certified to dive at depths of up to 60 feet (18M).
  • SRC Extended Range diver can dive to 130 feet (40M). SRC Extended Range diver or an Extended Range Nitrox Diving Instructor.
  • SSI has the Extended Range (Trimix) Instructor course with a maximum depth of 145 feet (45 feet).
  • SSI has technical diving courses with CCR Technical Extended Range course that trains decompression dives to depths of up to 200 feet (60M)
Scuba diver floating over a shipwreck

Why do Deep Dives?

Diving deeper gives you the ability to see a whole host of different things and places. Some also love the challenge and skill that goes into planning for a deep dive. I want to become a deep diver one day to see Bikini Atoll and Truk lagoon.

Wrecks are the biggest draw for people to dive deep and to properly and safely experience wrecks at deeper depth you need to consider decompression time, bottom time, hazards, and darkness.

This may seem scary or tedious to plan and execute to some but others love this and enjoy the whole process.

Blue hole diving hole

Deep diving does not always have to be about wrecks though to see sharks and other wildlife in a lot of areas you have to go deep. Some caves and swim-throughs like the Arch in the Blue Hole in Dahab, Egypt.

Is Deep Diving Dangerous?

It is not dangerous if you get certified to dive deep and dive within your limits. Deep diving does come with a higher risk compared to diving in shallower depths.

The main risks are a higher risk of decompression sickness and nitrogen narcosis.

The deeper you dive the more risks are associated with the dive and you will need to do decompression stops. The biggest risk is ascending too fast from depth. A fast ascent may cause the formation of nitrogen bubbles which is known as the bends or decompression sickness.

The deeper you dive the more nitrogen will get dissolved into your body’s tissues.

You cannot dive to deeper depths for the same amount of time unless you plan on doing extended decompression stops.

Scuba instructor talking about a dive location

Tips for Deep Diving

  • Build your diving depths slowly.
  • Plan your deep dive carefully- Maximum depth, bottom time, decompression stops, etc.
  • Know your air mixture and check it twice.
  • Know the diving conditions- Tides, water temperature, visibility.
  • Have dive insurance.
  • Make sure your dive computer is working and have a backup if possible.
  • Make sure you know where the decompression chamber is and if it’s operating.
  • Plan the deepest dive for your first/ only dive.
  • Don’t dive deeper than you are qualified or trained for.
Drop Tank being lowered into the water
  • Back up air- whether it is a drop tank or another diver bringing one down have a backup.
  • Take a technical or rebreather course
  • Take things slowly
  • Monitor your bottom time at depth all depths
  • Dress warm- You will be down there for a while and it is dark.
  • Make sure your equipment is maintained.
  • How susceptible are you to nitrogen narcosis?
  • Make sure you have eaten and are hydrated.

How Deep Can You go Without a Decompression Stop?

It will depend on how long to stay at different depths and what type of gas you are diving with.

If it is a shallower depth with the correct mixture of nitrox and air then you would probably run out of air before you went into deco.

On the other hand, if you went to 145 feet (45M) for 10 minutes you will probably need a decompression stop. Make sure you have a dive computer and it is set correctly.

Portrait of Ahmed Gabr in his dive gear

What is the Deepest Scuba Dive?

The world record for the deepest dive was done by an Egyptian diver, Ahmed Gabr who went to about 1,090 feet (332M) in the Red Sea.

It took him 12 minutes to get to the bottom and 14 hours to ascend back to the surface to avoid any decompression sickness.

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