‘the best way to observe a fish is to become a fish’  Jacques Cousteau

  1. Keep warm. Make sure that you have the correct thermal protection for the planned dive. Getting cold increases your metabolic rate, consuming more oxygen.
  2. Go slow. Only move if you need to! Sudden jerky movements and increased speed underwater all consume more oxygen. Don’t chase sea life! Don’t try to gather everyone in the dive group to show them what you saw. Don’t fight the current. Use any surge to your advantage.
  3. The more efficient your fins are, the less energy you expend. Get the right fins for you!
  4. Do not use your arms. Try to use your arms as little as possible.
  5. Trim up. Check your weight distribution so that you do not need to constantly compensate for being off-balance.
  6. Streamline your gear to reduce water resistance.
  7. Orally inflate your BCD. If your weighting is correct you will require less air in your bcd, thus reducing your head-on profile.
  8. Swim horizontally. Get your buoyancy correct.
  9. Control your breathing. Breathe deeply. Inhale for 5-7 secs, exhale for 6-8 secs. With practice you will do it automatically without having to count. Otherwise, hum a slow tune to yourself!
  10. Breathing pause. Pause for a second or two at the end of inspiration to allow more oxygen absorption. Usually we pause at the end of expiration, so this takes a little practice. This does not mean ‘skip breathing’.
  11. Restrict air flow. Some DV’s can be set. Otherwise inhale with your tongue against the roof of your mouth creating a natural restriction.
  12. Dive shallower
  13. Use your snorkel if you need to swim on the surface.
  14. Reduce air leaks. Service your gear regularly.
  15. Practice. Dive, dive, dive! The more comfortable you are in the water, the more relaxed you will become, the better your air consumption will be.


If you have any other tips to add, please do so!


Author: Dr Mark k. Botha

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