If you’ve been heavily influenced by Hollywood movies, then you’ll certainly miss a heartbeat or two when you’re first-time scuba diving in South Africa! With their exaggerated portrayal of dangerous sharks and various other marine hazards, films tend to give a scary picture indeed. But in reality, this is one of the most exciting and rewarding adventure sports that you can experience.
South Africa has some of the most spectacular scuba diving locations in the world, with a scenic, 1700 mile coastline spanning two oceans. A fabulous variety of marine life awaits divers, ranging from magnificent sharks, to millions of tiny sardines, coral reefs, Indo-Pacific tropical fish and many other creatures of the deep. Scuba diving is a popular sport here.
What’s To Be Afraid Of?
Firstly it’s normal to feel anxious or afraid on a first dive. Anxiety is a normal reaction to unfamiliar situations. In South Africa, scuba diving can result in agoraphobia, spatial disorientation and the “blue orb” syndrome when they lose contact with earth. Impaired visibility underwater causes strange sensations and hallucinations in some.
Psychologists differentiate between Trait Anxiety and State Anxiety: many people have pre-existing phobias like claustrophobia, fears of strange animals, and panic disorders. Experienced divers may experience panic attacks during a marine-creature attack, entanglement or equipment malfunction. In general, scuba fears include deep water, unexpected events, drowning and sharks.
Your Scuba Diving Fears can be Managed
Knowledge is power. Keep yourself well-informed about everything to do with scuba diving – it’s the best way to drive away those niggling fears. Consult your doctor before you dive, especially if you are older, have a medical condition or special needs. Select a good instructor, one who is experienced, qualified, trained, patient and ethical. Always use the right equipment. Clear all your doubts as they arise in your mind – know and respect your own limits. Trust your diving instructor, and dive buddy. You can also focus on the experience and not on yourself. It would also be prudent to inform your diving group about your physical and emotional condition.
Keeping these factors in mind, it’s possible to have a thrilling, once in a lifetime experience while scuba diving in South Africa.