Snorkeling allows you to get a closer look at what is going on below the waters. You can view coral reefs or watch schools of fish as they swim away from you.
While snorkeling looks like a lot of fun, I had one question before I tried it for the first time. Is snorkeling dangerous? It turns out that this is not really a yes or no question.
There are aspects of snorkeling that may pose a danger to snorkelers. However, the following information should help you stay safe and get the most out of this popular water activity.
Explore the Potential Dangers of Snorkeling
After some research, I was happy to find out that snorkeling itself is not very dangerous. While snorkeling is relatively safe, I did discover a few potential dangers related to this activity.
Most of the dangers of snorkeling can be divided into one of the following categories:
- The equipment
- The snorkeler
- The ocean
Problems with the snorkeling equipment pose the greatest dangers. For example, the mask may leak. When water gets in the mask, you may have trouble seeing, which can cause snorkelers to panic.
You may also have trouble clearing water from the snorkel tube. When water enters the breathing tube, there is a risk of choking on the water, which is another issue that may cause you to panic.
The equipment does not create an immediate danger. The way that snorkelers react to these problems is the most common cause of snorkeling-related accidents.
Panicking while in the ocean increases the risk of drowning or injury. When you start panicking, you may pull off the mask and begin inhaling water. You may also injure yourself on the nearby structures, such as coral reefs, boats, or other snorkelers.
The ocean also presents a few dangers. The biggest threat in the ocean is other people. Collisions with jet skis and small boats account for most of the snorkeling injuries reported annually.
Other threats in the ocean include jellyfish, sharks, and strong currents. Even when swimming away from the shore, heavy waves can pull snorkelers further away from their dive site. Along with an increased risk of drowning, this may increase the risk of getting separated from your group.
There have been several cases where one or more snorkelers were left behind by their tour group. While this is incredibly rare, it is still a potential danger.
How to Stay Safe While Snorkeling
Hopefully, those dangers do not scare anyone away from snorkeling. I still think it is a great activity if you follow a few basic precautions, such as:
- Only dive with a trusted tour company
- Check your gear before snorkeling
- Understand how to use your equipment
- Learn the basics of snorkeling
- Check the water conditions
- Pay attention to your energy level
- Remain aware of your surroundings
- Do not panic while snorkeling
When snorkeling for the first time, I suggest that you go from the beach instead of a boat. However, diving from a boat can also be a lot of fun.
The main advantage of snorkeling from the shore is that you can stay in shallower waters. You are also close to land, in case something goes wrong or you panic.
If you do choose to dive from a boat, there are two extra precautions. You need to know how to dive and you need to find a trusted tour company.
Checking and Using Your Snorkeling Gear
Whether you choose to go snorkeling from a boat or near the shore, you should check your snorkeling gear and know how to use it.
You will typically have a mask, snorkel, and fins. The mask needs to have a good fit to prevent leaking. If the mask is too tight or hair gets stuck inside, it is more likely to leak.
Get the mask wet before putting it on and then adjust it. You should also test it by placing your face in the water to check the seal.
When choosing a snorkel, you have several options. Most snorkels either have a splash guard or valves. The splash guard keeps water from splashing into the tube, causing the snorkel to flood with water.
The snorkels containing valves are called dry snorkels and typically cost a little more to rent. They include a valve at the top of the tube to keep water from getting inside and a valve near the bottom for purging water from the tube.
Understanding the Basics of Snorkeling
You should also review the basics of snorkeling with an instructor before heading into the water. Luckily, snorkeling is easy.
You need to remember to swim slowly, as it is easy to tire yourself out. You should also learn to float and how to purge water from the snorkel. Ask an instructor to review the breathing techniques when using a snorkel, especially if you’re going out on a boat.
It is also a good idea to practice. Get in the water near the beach or jump in a pool. Put your gear on and practice snorkeling.
Safety Precautions While Snorkeling
Once you get in the water, there are still several safety precautions to follow. First, you need to pay attention to your energy level. It is easy to get exhausted while snorkeling, which may leave you too tired to deal with an emergency. If you start to feel exhausted, start making your way back to the boat or shore.
You also need to remain aware of your surroundings. I know that it is easy to focus on the fish or beautiful corals when snorkeling. However, it is essential that you regularly scan your surroundings, including the surface.
As mentioned, one of the biggest threats in the ocean is other people. When snorkeling, occasionally scan the surface for incoming boats, jet skis, or other recreational water vehicles.
Conclusion – Is Snorkeling Dangerous?
In the end, I must say that snorkeling is not very dangerous. The biggest threats are panic and boats. If you know how to use the equipment and understand the basics of snorkeling, it is no more dangerous than going for a swim.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.