This sport is a great activity for vacationing in the Suwannee Valley area and it also is a great starting point for even more adventurous water sports, like scuba diving and free diving.
The greatest danger to snorkelers are inshore and leisure craft such as jet skis, speed boats and the like. A snorkeler is often submerged in the water with only the tube visible above the surface. Since these craft can ply the same areas snorkelers visit, the chance for accidental collisions exists. Sailboats and sailboards are a particular hazard as their quiet propulsion systems may not alert the snorkeler of their presence. A snorkeler may surface underneath a vessel and/or be struck by it. Few locations demarcate small craft areas from snorkeling areas, unlike that done for regular beach-bathers, with areas marked by buoys. Snorkelers may therefore choose to wear bright or highly reflective colors/outfits and/or to employ dive flags to enable easy spotting by boaters and others.
Snorkelers' backs, ankles, and rear of their thighs can be exposed to the sun for extended periods, and can burn badly (even if slightly submerged), without being noticed in time. The wearing appropriate covering such as a "rash guard" (in warmer waters), a T-shirt, a wetsuit, and especially "waterproof" sunblock will mitigate this risk.
Dehydration is another concern. Hydrating well before entering the water is highly recommended, especially if one intends to snorkel for several hours. Proper hydration also prevents cramps. Snorkelers who hyperventilate to extend sub-surface time can experience hypocapnia if they hyperventilate prior to submerging. This can in turn lead to “shallow water blackout.″ Snorkeling with a buddy and remaining aware of the buddy's condition at all times can help avoid these difficulties.
Snorkeling is a popular recreational activity, particularly in the springs of the Suwannee, Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers. The primary appeal is the opportunity to observe underwater life in a natural setting without the complicated equipment and training required for scuba diving. It appeals to all ages because of how little effort there is, and without the exhaled bubbles of scuba-diving equipment.
Everyone Can Snorkel
Of all water sports, snorkeling is one of the most simple to learn and it is a great way to enjoy all that the sea has to offer. Snorkeling is an activity that you can do almost any place you find water, although it is the most fun and interesting when there are fish and other creatures to watch.
Anyone with the ability to swim or float using an inflatable vest without panicking can discover the wonders beneath the waves. As a first time snorkeler you will need a few basic skills and pieces of equipment. You will need to have the ability to swim, or at the very least understand the movements of swimming. If you aren't an expert swimmer or lack confidence, you could use a floatation device. Should you decide to use the aid of a flotation device you will be a little bit limited, since you won't be able to dive. Snorkeling with a floatation device can help children gain the confidence and motivation to become better swimmers.
The only required pieces of equipment are a mask and a snorkel. The mask covers your eyes and nose, so that water stays out of your eyes and nose, facilitation seeing and breathing through the tube. The snorkel is a long tube, which straps to your mask strap, on one end of the snorkel there is an opening and on the other end there’s a mouthpiece. The mouthpiece should securely fit into your lips, held there by your teeth end the end. After you have your snorkel equipment you will need to learn to take proper care of your snorkeling equipment. Sometimes the masks get foggy, there is a type of liquid that can prevent some fogginess in the mask. In addition, you should always test your equipment before you venture into the water. Your mask should suction to your face and prevent water from leaking in. You should also make sure that your snorkel is facing the correct direction since the wrong angle can allow water to enter your sheets. To start snorkeling, put your mask and snorkel on, you may also want to use flippers. Test to make sure that all of the equipment is working. Then proceed out into shallow and secure water. Put your face into the water before starting to swim. You need to become comfortable with having your face underwater. You also need to learn to breathe through the snorkel comfortably. This is essential practice since it can be much scarier once you are in the water. As you become more confident and snorkel more you will notice that waves and splashes can get water into the snorkel. Clearing your snorkel of this water is very simple; exhale through your snorkel forcefully. This will blow the water back out of the snorkel. Also, you will notice that sometimes your mask may develop a tiny lead, which will eventually fill it with water. To clear your mask, lift your head out of the water and pull forward on your mask to open a gap at the bottom of the mask. This will allow the water to flow out of the mask. Always remember, never snorkel alone, just as you would not go swimming alone. You will be able to practice snorkeling almost anywhere, in a pool in the ocean and more. Practice will prepare you to more fully enjoy all of the fascinating species of sea life that you will see in some of our springs
Snorkeling is a tool used to access one of nature's most marvelous realms, and we have one of the best arenas for exercising our sense of discovery, as well as our bodies. The key to successful snorkeling is relaxation in the water. Try not to overanalyze. Practice will improve your skills and comfort in the water. The tips below assume you already have well fitting equipment.
Be sure the mask fits your face. Hold the snorkel mask up to your face clearing the strap from your face. Breath in through your nose. The mask should seal perfectly and stay on, without holding it, for as long as you breath in. If any air leaks in, water will also. Keep all hair out of the seal, if you have a moustache, use a good glob of vaseline, sunscreen or chapstick below your nose to act as a "gasket," or consider shaving the area right below the nose.
The strap should only fit snugly at the widest part of your head, towards the top of the back of your head. If it's at the base of your skull, water may seep in. If water does start seeping in while snorkeling, reach back and see if your strap has slipped down. Don't tighten the strap beyond "snug," being too tight causes leaking, as the seal can be broken. The pressure of the water will help seal the mask to your face. The snorkel should rest in front of your ear.
Choose fins that are snug but not too tight. If they hurt or curl your toes especially, you may develop cramps while snorkeling. If they slip off your heels, they're too big. Better a little big than too small. Remember they will slip on easier when your feet are wet.
No point going through all the trouble if you can't see anything (by the way snorkel rental places carry masks with prescription lenses). Products made for defogging seem to work OK. I use a small drop of Johnson's Baby Shampoo it I brought it if not then just spit, wipe and rinse.
Practice breathing through the snorkel with your head out of the water before the real thing. Put the mask on your head (wear your strap slightly high on the back of your head and not too tight!), suck it into your face, breathe through the tube (put the mouthpiece all the way in your mouth, like a football players mouthpiece and close your lips around it). Dont't bite, just rest your teeth on the bite thingies - or your jaw will get really sore.
When ready, practice calm floating in the face down and horizontal position. Having something (scenery, coral, fish, dolphins!, or even your finger tips waving) to focus on helps by distracting you from overanalyzing (worse as we get older).
Masks should remain reasonably dry on the inside, but they can accidentally fill with water. This usually happens when the strap has slipped down to far. A flooded mask can be easily cleared by raising the head, pulling the lower edge away from the mouth, and simply letting the water drain out. I like to leave a little water in my mask, where it can be swished around for an instant defog.
The same applies to snorkels. A burst of air (similar to a dolphin blow, or saying the word "two") should clear a flooded snorkel, but breathe in cautiously afterwards just to make sure. If you're out of air, then simply remove the snorkel from the mouth to breath. It's helpful to practice deliberately flooding and clearing both mask and snorkel to calmly learn these techniques.
To use your fins correctly, kick from the hip and keep your knees and ankles relaxed to prevent your leg muscles from cramping. Fins remain below the water line, always. AVOID using a bicycling type kick, but instead think of your fin (especially the tip) as a beautiful flowing mermaid tail. Once you are proficient in this skill, you will notice that your fins propel you through the water. You will hardly need to use your arms and can let them rest easily at your side, or fold your hands over your lower back.
Once you have mastered using your equipment, practice controlling your movements in the water. You will increase your comfort level as you improve maneuvering abilities and you will also minimize accidental bump-ins with objects in the water such as other snorkelers, reef elements, buoys, etc. It's easy to lose track of your location with your face in the water, and loss of peripheral vision. Don't forget to look around for your exit spot or boat every couple of minutes.