History of Scuba Diving

People who have a passion for water would definitely enjoy the marine sport known as scuba diving.

“Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus” when abbreviated gives us the term SCUBA. The evolution of scuba diving continues to progress thanks to the ever improving development of technology. Other activities that relate to scuba diving include:

  • – Scientific diving.
  • – Public diving.
  • – Recreational diving.
  • – Technical diving which includes deep diving, wreck diving, cave diving and ice diving.
  • – Commercial diving.
  • – Military diving.

The origins and history of scuba diving can be traced back centuries. Before the apparatus for the sport was invented, men and women had practiced holding their breath while being submerged underwater. Accounts in the history of scuba diving tell us that some of these people can hold their breath longer than five minutes! Now that is really amazing. We may find some of these accounts hard to believe but people do stay under water without scuba diving equipment. So there is a possibility that some divers in the past may have actually stayed under water for more than three minutes without drowning. Most of the diving at that time was not for fun but for commercial purposes.


Searching for food at the bottom of the sea is what drove a lot of people to dive under water. When the survival of their families was at stake people risked their lives just to ensure the survival of their families. When we read the history of scuba diving great stories emerge of brave man and women who risk their lives under water to save others.

Diving For War

Ancient artifacts in Greece were discovered depicting divers engaged in military endeavors and hunting for sponges. These provide some insight into

the indirect origins of the sport of scuba diving. The story of Scyllis in 500 BC as told by the famous Greek historian Herodotus appears to be the most popular when taking a look at the history of scuba diving.

It is said that Scyllis was being held captive by the Persian King, Xerxes I, during the Grecian naval campaign. When Scyllis came to know that Xerxes was going to attack the Greek fleet, he got hold of a knife and jumped overboard.

Scyllis couldn’t be found by the Persians so the assumption was that he had drowned. Scyllis resurfaced at night and swam to Xerxes fleet, disabling it by cutting every ship off from its mooring. To avoid being spotted, he used a reed as his snorkel. He then joined up with his fellow Greeks afterwards by swimming nine miles (approximately 15 kilometers) towards them.

Early Development of Scuba Diving Technology

Retro diving suite

Move ahead to the 16th century and you will find that diving bells proved to be the first effective apparatus that people used to stay submerged for a longer period of time. This was done by holding the bell a few feet away from the surface at a stationary level. The top contained air compressed with the water pressure while the bottom was open to water.

The diver would hold his head in the compressed air within the bell by staying vertical. He would then be able to perform tasks like exploring the bottom of the sea or collect sponges by leaving the bell.

He would later have to return to the bell to get air. This could be done repeatedly till the bell no longer contained enough air for the diver to use.

Full diving suits were being made by France and England at that time. The suits were manufactured from leather and used to immerse up to 60 feet. Manual pumps were then used to pump air through from beneath the surface. Metal helmets were later manufactured for divers who wanted to go deeper as these helmets could withstand the greater water pressures.

The effects of water pressure within the body were concluded in the 19th century by two scientific researches, Paul Bert who was a Frenchman and a Scotsman named John Scott Haldane. Compressed air, regulators and carbon dioxide together with the study of these two gentlemen became the basis for the creation of the scuba diving apparatus that we know and use today.

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