Did you know how SCUBA was invented?

Have you ever wondered how SCUBA was invented and what the word SCUBA actually means? If you have, you may find the next few paragraphs an interesting read.

The underwater world has fascinated human beings for thousands of years. In particular, we were always interested in the ability to breathe under water for a prolonged period of time. There are even scientific theories, such as the Aquatic Ape Theory, suggesting that early human ancestors may have adapted to semiaquatic existence. And, of course, in modern times we continue to read stories about human beings, such as the Moken people of Southeast Asia, who have developed perfect underwater vision, or the fish and pearl hunters who learned to stay submerged underwater for minutes at a time simply to be able to earn their living.

Diving Bell

Diving Bell

People practiced breath-hold diving for centuries and divers are depicted in ancient drawings as they were hunting for pearls, sponges and the like. As early as 5th century B.C. Herodotus tells the story of a Greek sailor who used a hollow reed as a snorkel to cut the mooring lines of enemy Persian ships. And in 3rd century B.C. Aristotle already makes references to an actual underwater breathing apparatus.

In 1500’s diving bells are used for underwater exploration (think of an overturned empty cup partially filled with air as a good analogy). Divers were placed inside a bell with their head above water level. They could leave the bell to explore the sea bottom or perform other tasks and then swim back in for a breath of air. Naturally, their air supply did not last long! In 19th century diving bells were already replaced by well perfected surface-supplied metal helmets attached to watertight diving suits.

Jacques Cousteau Aqualung

Jacques Cousteau Aqualung

But it wasn’t until 1943 that Jacques-Yves Cousteau (a French naval lieutenant) and Emile Gagnan (an engineer for Air Liquide, a French natural gas company) invented a truly revolutionary underwater breathing system and gave it a name all of us are familiar with – Aqualung. This system included a demand valve regulator with compressed air cylinders and is typically referred to today as S.C.U.B.A (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus).

Aqualung allowed ordinary people from all over the world the opportunity to experience the thrill and beauty of underwater exploration without being dependent on surface air supply. This indeed was a revolution in diving and a building block for the growth and development of the recreational scuba diving industry as we know it today. Surely, without SCUBA there would be no scuba diving!

Join in on the fun, dive in with SCUBA!


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