Snorkels are underwater breathing tubes designed to let you keep your face underwater, so you can observe ocean life, while being able to breathe comfortably. They are an essential part of scuba diving equipment, and they are also great to use on their own as a way to observe fish and undersea environments.
The basic principle of a snorkel is simple--a tube that will let you breathe underwater. The most basic snorkels, designed for snorkeling rather than scuba diving, do only that. They are formed by a straight or gently curved tube of plastic that has a silicone or rubber mouth piece. This is attached to a diving mask in such a position so that it points virtually straight back from the face. You can typically find a basic snorkel at larger sports equipment stores and dive shops and these typically sell for less than $20. Also easily found is a starter package that includes a mask and flippers.
Drop Away Snorkels
These snorkels are used exclusively for scuba diving. The portion that fits in the diver's mouth is not rigid, as with most snorkels, but rather a flexible, corrugated tube. Thus, when the diver releases the snorkel from his or her mouth, generally to put in a scuba regulator, the tube falls away from the mouth and remains accessible without getting in the way. More advanced models also feature a valve that will seal the mouthpiece, minimizing the water that flows into the snorkel when not in use. Scuba snorkels are typically only found at dive shops.
Purge Valve Snorkels
Advanced snorkels do not require you to spit water up through the tube, but rather have a one-way valve in the mouthpiece that will allow water to get out without getting in. These are ideal for snorkelers who do not plan to remain on the surface, but want to float or swim to a particular destination and then explore beneath the surface. A simple series of exhalations will completely clear the snorkel when you return to the surface. Purge valve snorkels can be found at larger outdoor supply stores, but are more typically found at dive shops.
Article Written By Beau Prichard
Beau Prichard has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He specializes in fiction, travel and writing coaching. He has traveled in the United Kingdom, Europe, Mexico and Australia. Prichard grew up in New Zealand and holds a Bachelor of Arts in writing from George Fox University.