Scuba divers have a very specific dress code. Divers always wear black wetsuits and dive boots. That’s because the dark colour is considered to be the most efficient in absorbing harmful rays from the sun such as UV that can damage their skin or even cause cancer, whilst also providing more broader protection once in the water.
It also gives them more of a streamlined appearance when diving, making it easier for them to glide through the water without resistance.
Also, unlike other colours like red, dark colours absorb heat easily so scuba divers won’t feel hot after a dive which may cause fatigue. This works on the opposite end of the spectrum too. As you dive deeper, the temperature of the water can drastically dip.
A wetsuit is there to stop the diver from any adverse effects from this colder water (obviously, to a point – no wetsuit can save you if you intentionally go past what is considered a safe depth!).
Another point is that they’ve pretty much always been made the same way…so why mess with a winning formula?
Why are wetsuits required for scuba diving?
Remember – water is a very good insulator (which is why you’re cold in it – your body heat can’t escape!). Water also tends to be relatively cold. So, if you go into the sea without any protection – it’ll chill you extremely quickly and cause hypothermia – which may result in death.
That’s why you’ll always see scuba divers in wetsuits – to protect against these two elements – water and cold.
What would happen if you went scuba diving without a wetsuit?
Without a wetsuit, you would certainly die! – You see, although the water is full of gas – oxygen – it doesn’t let it out easily.
Also, the longer you spend in the water without protection – an accelerated effect of hypothermia sets in – where your body temperature goes down faster and further than if you were just sitting on land (where naturally your body is warmer). This magnifies as time goes by.
If you went diving without a wetsuit – this starts happening within around five minutes any more and your heart rate can be affected – up to death after about 15-20 minutes.
Other bad effects are that the lower amount of oxygen can cause nitrogen – which is given off when you’re breathing – to build up in your body – causing the ‘bends’.
What about drysuit scuba diving?
Some divers use these as they really aren’t bothered by the cold. They’ll wear them even in very warm temperatures! If you’re going to be diving in deep water, it can get very hot – so a drysuit could come into play.
However, a drysuit is not as efficient and has less mobility than a wet suit. Thus, more effort is required from your body whilst diving, which may distract you/slow you down.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any advantages to wearing one at all though!
Firstly, a drysuit keeps away the flappy fabric that can cause drag and affect buoyancy control. It also stops water from coming in and freezing which, as well as a hindrance, can cause your suit to become rigid.
A drysuit will usually have an over the shoulder harness to keep the suit further away from your body. This prevents water from getting into where the suit ends/on your shoulders (and means that when you dive down deeper, there won’t be weight added again because of any water in it). But, this makes it harder to take off when needed.
You also need a big inflatable cylinder which needs pumping up before each dive, putting more work onto yourself and slows you down even more. If you can put up with the prep though, you’re able to go down much further, and for longer, without getting the ‘bends’ (an issue with more standard wetsuits if you were to stay in the water too long).
Naturally, you’re going to need specialist training for drysuit diving, so be sure to do your research beforehand.