During the Ice Age, the earth's water levels were some 250 feet deeper than they are today. This makes for some very interesting underwater topography on the Grand Cayman's walls. Overhangs where the surf used to break on the shoreline create the perfect home for massive sponges that abound in colors of pastel pinks, oranges, yellows and translucent whites. Chutes, which cut into the wall where once waterfalls or runoff from land-created erosion, offer beautiful entrances onto the wall, and the pelagics that run deeper in waters surrounding our island are pleasant companions on any dive.
So how do you explore this virgin world? By diving deep beyond the recreational dive limits of 130 feet.
Technical diving is by definition “any dives conducted beyond the 130'-foot depth limit, dives requiring a decompression stop, dives beyond the light zone, or dives into an overhead environment.” Obviously this type of advanced, extended range diving is not for everyone, and it requires a commitment to safe, responsible, self-disciplined diving. Technical diving is a recreational sport. Just like skiing the black diamond runs or climbing Mount Everest aren't accomplished overnight, neither is technical diving. It takes a love of the sport, a lot of training and practice, and a little bit of an adventurous spirit to get you there.
Training is the first step to expanding your diving horizons. Through courses in Nitrox, Advanced Nitrox, Technical Nitrox and Trimix, divers are taught how to safely explore deeper depths for long bottom times on dives.
Equipment is also a key consideration, as it is a large part of our life support system underwater. To safely dive deep profiles, proper redundant scuba gear must be worn. This includes adequate gas supply, backup gas supply, appropriate regulators that are well serviced, and much more.
Selecting and managing the types of gases used on a dive are also critical factors, to insure that we are clear headed (managing nitrogen narcosis) and are only exposed to safe levels of oxygen (managing oxygen toxicity).
All of these issues, combined with the main key ingredients – a responsible attitude, self-sufficient diving skills, practice, and an adventurous spirit – can lead to the enjoyment of extended range diving.
by Nancy Romanica
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