What Does Scuba Mean?

Jacques-Cousteau-Emile-Gagnan-Aqua-Lung-1953

So you’re finally going to take the plunge and sign up for lessons in scuba in Pretoria, but have you ever thought about what ‘scuba’ actually means? Or how scuba gear itself – which allows us divers to breathe underwater long enough to explore and enjoy the wonders of aquatic life – came to be invented?

Did You Know?

‘SCUBA’ is in fact an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus; a pretty accurate description of this amazing gear. As for humans’ longstanding desire to investigate life underwater, it can be traced back to around 300 BC when humans first began braving the depths using hollow reeds much like we’d use a snorkel today. By the early 1300s, the ancient Persians were using finely sliced and polished tortoise shells to make rudimentary diving masks. And by the 16th century would-be divers were using wooden barrels as diving bells.

In Pretoria, Scuba is Celebrated at Scuba Scene

The evolution of scuba equipment as we know it today, however, really took off when John Smeaton, a British engineer, invented the air pump in 1771. This allowed fresh air to be pumped directly to the diver in the diving bell via a long hose. And in 1772 when Sieur Freminet, an innovative Frenchman, developed a rebreathing device that allowed the diver’s exhaled air to be recycled, the idea of a self-contained underwater breathing device was born.

It would still take another 170 years and a number of failed and often fatal trials to arrive at the point where Jacques Cousteau (fondly dubbed “the father of scuba diving”) and his partner Emile Gagnan, an accomplished engineer, finally created a rebreathing device that actually worked. Using a car regulator, they managed to create a demand valve system that automatically supplied the diver with compressed air when he took a breath. They called their invention the Aqua-Lung and by 1943 it was available for sale to the public. This incredible breakthrough finally made scuba diving infinitely more accessible and a lot safer.

So remember all those who have gone before when you suit up for your first scuba lesson in Pretoria with Scuba Scene – thanks to their determination you get to explore and enjoy the magic of our marine ecosystems.