Monkey diving was introduced to the World’s oceans and seas at the end of 2005. It brought to us a new way of diving that, although is not traditional, it provides us with great freedom and a new feeling underwater. However monkey diving is more than just a new gimik, it actually gives us much more than one would think.
First, to describe how it is done for those who have never seen it or done it. You start by putting on whatever thermal protection you are going to be wearing and the back-plate and harness. Then you jump in the water and make sure that you are neutrally buoyant, ie you can sink if you exhale and can stay on the surface comfortably. This is the absolute key to monkey diving.
Once you have established your buoyancy, you now take your tank and attach it to your harness like a stage. Again you check your buoyancy to make sure you are positive when you inhale but you are negative when you exhale. Once that is established you are ready to monkey away.
Once a diver masters the art of monkey diving he or she has gained a lot. It helps one master the most important skill in diving, on which everything is built, and that is buoyancy. Because there is not much gear to deal with the diver gets to concentrate on the buoyancy characteristics of the few things he or she is using. The change in wetsuit buoyancy is very evident and needs to be taken into account. The diver needs to understand this very well. Also the change in buoyancy characteristics of the tank from full to empty is also very evident and the diver has the tank in his face all through the dive. Finally the actual breathing and its effect on buoyancy is mastered. Once the diver has mastered and understood these things and is able to handle the monkey diving with ease, everything is else is easy.
Actually since we started monkey diving we now do all my intro dives in full blown monkey diving style. If you think about it, intro divers are not required to have buoyancy device because they do not know how to use it and usually the diver with them is responsible for their buoyancy. The normal way to intro dive in the Red Sea is to get the diver in scuba gear and put a lot of weights on them and hold them from their tank as you drag them across the reef. We do not like that. Not only is it an unpleasant experience, but it is also not flattering to the new diver.
When we get a new diver interested in trying scuba we put them in a wet suit, a harness and a small weight belt. I make them swim around and understand the concept of neutral buoyancy. They get comfortable very quickly as it is like swimming with nothing on and most of them are already comfortable swimming like that. Now we just add the tank and explain the equalization stuff and swim by their side. We usually do not even grab their hand. You would be amazed at how natural it comes to people.
When a person meets scuba like this for the first time they develop really quickly to becoming comfortable and confidant divers. They have now mastered the basic elements. They can slowly start adding gear and moving to more advanced dive rigs.
Actually we have also seen a lot of advanced technical divers benefit from doing the monkey.
Migrating to a dry suit or using a dry suit on big dives is always a big step for divers that have not used it before. Monkey diving with a dry suit isolates the dry suit for the diver to concentrate on it and understand how it works before using it with all the other gear. So on and so on with many other things.
Although this might seem to be a dangerous way of doing things it should be safe if you dive it within limits. If you are safe and keeping it shallow you should not encounter any problems.
We are obviously fond of monkey diving and wanted to share some of these thought with you all.
DISCLAIMER: Monkey diving will kill you. Do not try this at home.