Snorkelling

In Dorset there are some really beautiful places to snorkel  with colourful marine life to see.

Snorkelling is a leisurely, non competitive activity that anyone able to swim can participate in. In shallow waters it can provide a glimpse of the underwater world with the many species that are there and the different types of habitats.  In Dorset there are some really beautiful places to snorkel  with colourful marine life to see.

What do I need?

Snorkelling is floating on the surface of the water, face down, looking through a mask and breathing through a snorkel while watching the underwater environment. To snorkel, wear clothes that you can swim comfortably and competently in (swimming costume, wetsuit, fins) and a snorkel and mask:

Ask shop assistants for advice regarding a suitable snorkel/mask combination that meets your specific needs and budget.

Clearing snorkel and mask techniques

Snorkel

Water can get in to the snorkel, caused by splashes, waves, or submerging so far the snorkel no longer sticks out of the water. To clear a snorkel, make sure it is above sea level and blow hard to ‘blast’ the water out. Any water left in the snorkel can be expelled with a second blast.

Mask

If the mask gets water into it it can be emptied by taking your head above water level and lifting the mask away from your face, allowing water to fall out from the bottom of the mask.

Alternatively, some masks and snorkels have built in one-way drainage valves to allow you to expel water while underwater.

When’s the best time to go?

Snorkelling can be done all year round but some weather conditions are better than others.  In windy conditions there are bigger waves which makes it more difficult and dangerous to snorkel.  The safest times to snorkel are at the slack water, which usually occurs near high or low water.

 

Planning your trip

Watch out for wildlife
  • The Dorset coast has many areas that are important for wildlife and birds.  These areas have restrictions at certain times of the year to help to protect the wildlife.  On iCoast please turn on the restricted areas icon to show these areas when planning your activity. 
  • If near wildlife, don’t linger for too long - by all means look, but then move on.
  • Avoid damaging plants and seaweeds.
  • Report live strandings of cetaceans, and injured/entangled marine mammals to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on 01825 765546 (24 hours). Report all other live injured or entangled animals to RSPCA 08705 555999
Watch out for other users
  • Look out for other recreational users and share the water- Swimmers, jet skiers, divers, windsurfers etc. all use the water too so you should be observant, careful and respectful when you are out snorkelling.
Watch out for the environment
  • Take home all your rubbish – discard rubbish found in the sea or on beaches spoils peoples experience of the Dorset coast, can harm marine creatures and birds and can be a hindrance to fishermen with litter getting tangled up in their nets.  Find out more about Marine litter in Dorset.
 

Staying safe

  • Its always best to go snorkelling in a small group and look out for each other while you are diving down.
  • If you are a beginner, stay near to the shore; you may tire quicker than you think
  • Do not touch the marine life. Many creatures have self defence mechanisms so don’t be surprised at their attempts to bite, sting or pinch you if you disturb them.
  • Jet skis, speed boats and other motorised vehicles can only see a snorkel from above the water, be aware of any potential dangers in the area.
  • Quiet propulsion vehicles (small boats, windsurfers) pose more of a risk because you can’t hear them coming, make sure you communicate potential dangers to members of your group.
  • Make sure you have had enough water when going out for a long day of snorkelling.
  • If you get tired roll onto your back to give yourself time to recover. Swimming on your back uses less energy.
  • To prevent tiring too early try to make yourself as streamline and efficient as possible when snorkelling. Conserve energy by keeping your head flat and expelling water.
 

British Sub-Aqua Club’s Top Ten Tips for Safe Snorkelling

  1. Never dive alone - The minimum snorkelling party is 3; a buddy pair to lookout for each other in the water and a shore lookout.
  2. Get Fit - By getting fit you will not only be able to enjoy your Snorkelling better, but also be safer
  3. Train with a recognised training scheme - The BSAC's Snorkelling syllabus is a progressive training course to help people build skills and technique and enjoy the sea; safely.
  4. Check your equipment - A strap breaking on a fin, a badly fitting mask or a leaking snorkel valve while you're at sea can all cause problems and discomfort. Taking good care of the equipment and checking it carefully can reduce the chances of problems.
  5. Choose a safe site - Avoid areas with heavy boat traffic, dangerous currents and rip tides. Make sure the entrances and exits to the water are easily accessible and that there are alternative places to exit if the dive is cut short.
  6. Check tides - The safest times to snorkel are at the slack water, which usually occurs near high or low water.
  7. Check weather and sea state - Before setting off check the weather forecast. Although rain can be unpleasant it isn't necessarily as bad to dive in the rain as in a wind. Wind can cause waves to increase which make snorkelling tough. Force 3-4(12mph+) is usually enough to cancel.
  8. Don't hyperventilate - hyperventilation can reduce the levels of CO2 in your lungs, which decreases the trigger to breathe and can lead to black outs.
  9. Don't dive with a cold - if you have cold you could force mucus into the Eustachian tubes and cause an infection
  10. One up, One down - While diving with your buddy, avoid both diving under water at the same time, one should stay on the surface in case the diver has problems

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