Glossary of underwater diving terminology

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This is a glossary of technical terms, jargon, diver slang and acronyms used in underwater diving. The definitions listed are in the context of underwater diving. There may be other meanings in other contexts.


Aluminium Alloy 6061 (not subject to sustained load cracking).[1] Currently (2012) used for manufacture of new diving cylinders.
Aluminium Alloy 6351. This alloy is subject to sustained load cracking and requires periodical eddy current testing.[1] No longer used for new cylinder manufacture, but many cylinders of this alloy are still in service.

see adjustable buoyancy life jacket

absolute pressure

Total static pressure at the reference point: Pressure relative to vacuum.

A-clamp fitting/valve

see yoke fitting/valve.

A-clamp adaptor

see yoke adaptor

active addition

see also Rebreather#Active addition semi-closed circuit

System for semi-closed circuit rebreather feed gas addition in which gas is added to the breathing circuit by a mechanism, regardless of current volume, and excess gas is vented to keep the loop volume within limits. Compare with passive addition

activated carbon
activated charcoal

A filter medium used to remove oil, water and odours from breathing air.

Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme: An international commercial and occupational diver certification scheme.
adjustable buoyancy life jacket

Also known as ABLJ or horse collar buoyancy compensator

A combination of buoyancy compensator and inflatable life jacket worn on the chest and round the neck.[2]

Automatic Diluent Valve: A demand valve set into the breathing loop of a rebreather to inject diluent gas into the loop when the loop volume falls and there is not enough gas for inhalation.

Part of Launch and Recovery System

Gantry or davit for launching and recovering bells, stages anchors or large ROVs.[3][4] Usually deployed by hydraulic rams which swing the frame over the deck or overboard as required. The load is hoisted and lowered by cables from the top of the frame.


see arterial gas embolism

aggressive (decompression)
Decompression profile tending to shorter overall decompression time for a given pre-ascent dive profile, accepting increased risk of decompression sickness to reduce the overall ascent time.[5]
air dome
A section of cave which traps air or other gas at the top. This gas is not directly connected to the surface.[6]

A device based on a pipe, used in by divers to suck small objects, sand and mud from the sea bed and to transport the resulting debris upwards and away from its source. Air is injected into the lower end of the pipe and the rising bubbles entrain water and cause an upward flow which draws the material from the bottom along.

air top
1.  Completing a planned breathing gas mix by topping up with compressed air.[7]
2.  Topping up a partly used breathing gas mix with compressed air, providing a different mixture which is analysed after the fill.[7]
algal bloom

A rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae (typically microscopic) in an aquatic system. Some blooms may be recognized by discoloration of the water resulting from the high density of pigmented cells. Visibility can be severely impaired over a period of hours to days.

Articulated Loading Platform, a type of single point mooring consisting of a buoyant upper structure with a lattice leg linked by an articulating joint to a mooring.[8]
alternative air source

A secondary supply of air or other breathing gas used by the diver in an emergency

alternobaric vertigo

Dizziness caused by a difference of pressure between the middle ears.

altitude diving

Diving at a location where the water surface is at an altitude which requires modification of decompression schedules.[9] (more than about 300 m (980 ft) above sea level.

ambient pressure

Pressure of the surroundings.


Completely lacking in oxygen.

Association of Offshore Diving Contractors, one of the predecessors to IMCA.[10]

An impairment of language ability which may range from having difficulty remembering words to being completely unable to speak, read, or write

1.  Suspension of breathing, breath-hold.
2.  Free-diving.
Self contained open circuit underwater breathing equipment consisting of a diving cylinder and diving regulator.
arterial bubble model

Decompression model in which the filtering capacity of the lung is assumed to have a threshold radius of the size of a red blood cell and sufficiently small decompression bubbles can pass to the arterial side, especially during the initial phase of ascent.

arterial gas embolism

Blockage of an artery by a gas bubble. A possible consequence of lung overpressure injury.

articulated loading platform
see ALP
AR vest
A waistcoat (vest) style harness of heavy cloth with strong adjustable webbing straps so that the diver can not slide out under any predictable circumstance.[11]
Part of the dive profile where the diver is moving upwards towards the surface. An ascent may be interrupted by stops (q.v.), when the diver maintains a functionally constant depth for the purpose of decompression, and pulls (q.v.), during which periods there is consistently upwards movement (minor variations in the scale of a few seconds are generally ignored).
ascent rate

The rate at which depth is reduced at the end of a dive. An important component of decompression.

Association of SCUBA Service Engineers and Technicians.[12]

Also ata or atmospheres absolute

Unit of absolute pressure equivalent to standard atmospheric pressure.

atmospheric diving suit

Also ADS

A small one-man articulated submersible of anthropomorphic form which resembles a suit of armour, with elaborate pressure joints to allow articulation while maintaining an internal pressure of one atmosphere.

attack swimmer

see combat swimmer


see diver's attendant

Autonomous diver
EN 14153-2 / ISO 24801-2 standard competence for recreational scuba diver. The level 2 "Autonomous diver" has sufficient knowledge, skill and experience to make dives, in open water, which do not require in-water decompression stops, to a recommended maximum depth of 20 m with other scuba divers of the same level, only when appropriate support is available at the surface, and under conditions that are equal or better than the conditions where they were trained without supervision of a scuba instructor, unless they have additional training or are accompanied by a dive leader.[13]


back gas
Breathing gas carried by a scuba diver in back mounted cylinders. Generally the primary breathing gas for the bottom or longest sector of a dive.[6]
back kick
backward kick
A finning technique for moving backwards. Not an easy, powerful or elegant kick, but useful in many situations. The fins are angled outwards in opposite directions with the legs straight, then swept upwards and towards the diver by bending the knees in the power stroke. The knees may move downwards a bit at the same time by bending at the hips for stability. The return stroke feathers the fins by pointing them backwards in line with the body axis, to reduce forward thrust until the legs are straight again
back mount
The practice of carrying a scuba set on the back of the diver, supported by a harness, backplate or stabilisor jacket BCD. Compare with sidemount

A plate, normally made from metal, which rests against the diver’s back, and to which the primary scuba cylinders are attached. Held to the body by harness straps over the shoulders and round the waist. Sometimes also crotch straps and chest straps. Usually used with a back inflation buoyancy compensator.

A rigid or semi-rigid structure similar in function to a backplate, usually made of moulded plastic, but sometimes of metal, used either as a stiffener and reinforcement for a jacket style buoyancy compensator, or as the basis of a scuba harness independent of a buoyancy compensator. The backpack supports and stabilises the scuba cylinder on the diver's back.
backup light
Dive light carried as a spare to be used in case of failure of the primary light.[6]
backup regulator

also secondary, safe second or octopus

A second regulator connected to a cylinder or manifolded twin set.[6]

backward roll entry
backward roll

also back roll entry

Water entry method in which the seated diver rolls backwards off the side of the boat, allowing the scuba cylinders to strike the water first.[14]:125

bailout block

see also gas block, or gas switching block

A gas switching block specifically intended for connection of a bailout set to the main gas supply (which may be scuba or surface supply) which allows the diver to switch from main gas supply to emergency gas supply while continuously using the same mouthpiece, regulator second stage, full face mask or helmet. A bailout block is generally used on open circuit breathing apparatus, the equivalent function on a rebreather is provided by a bailout valve (BOV). The bailout block may be mounted on the side of a diving helmet or full-face mask, or may be mounted in a convenient place on the diver's harness, and includes a bailout valve, used to select the gas source, and one or more non-return valves to ensure that the emergency gas supply is directed only to the diver.

bailout cylinder

A scuba cylinder carried by an underwater diver for use as an emergency supply of breathing gas in the event of a primary gas supply failure.

bailout valve
1.  An open circuit demand valve built into a rebreather mouthpiece, or other part of the breathing loop, which can be isolated while the diver is using the rebreather to recycle breathing gas, and opened at the same time as isolating the breathing loop when the diver bails out to open circuit.
2.  A valve which opens the gas supply from the bailout cylinder of a surface supplied diver, used in case of surface gas failure, usually mounted on the side of a diving helmet or full-face mask, or on a manifold block on the diver's harness.
bailout set
bailout system

An independent breathing gas supply carried by a diver for use in case of failure of the main gas supply. Usually consists of a bailout cylinder with a first stage regulator, and either a second stage regulator or connected to a bailout block or bailout valve (q.v.) A submersible pressure gauge is also usually provided.[15]

balanced regulator
Regulator designed to provide a consistent demand effort not affected by cylinder gas pressure or depth.[6]
band mask

A heavy duty full-face mask with many of the characteristics of a lightweight demand helmet. In structure it is the front section of a lightweight helmet from above the faceplate to below the demand valve and exhaust ports, including the bailout block and communications connections on the sides. This rigid frame is attached to a neoprene hood by a metal clamping band, hence the name.


see cylinder bands


see also bar (unit)

Metric unit of pressure commonly used in diving, equal to 100 kiloPascal, and nearly equal to standard atmospheric pressure.


Tooth pain caused by pressure difference.


Injury caused by pressure difference.

1.  (also tank factor) Numeric value computed for a cylinder or manifolded set that relates volume and pressure in the imperial system of units. Computed by dividing nominal capacity (cubic feet) by cylinder working pressure (psi) to express cubic feet of volume per psi of fill pressure (sometimes multiplied by 100 to give cubic feet per 100 psi). Used to convert cylinder pressure to free gas volume.[6]
2.  A line that is a base for measurement or for construction; see datum (calculations or comparisons)
3.  A data set which is a point of reference (engineering or science) for later data.

see diving stage

BAT wing
Buoyancy And Trim wing. A back mounted buoyancy compensator cell used with sidemount harness. The buoyancy volume is mostly over the lower back.[16]

see buoyancy compensator

BCD blowup
Uncontrolled buoyant ascent caused by inability to release gas from the buoyancy compensator faster than it expands due to pressure reduction of ascent.
beach master

see also dive marshal

A person on the beach who records when divers enter and exit the water. Typically used during recreational scuba training to keep track of the students, watch the gear, and provide assistance when required.

1.  diving bell (q.v.)
2.  Short tug on a lifeline, used in pairs, for signalling purposes.
bell bounce dive
Surface oriented diving operation in which the divers are transported in and deployed from a closed bell, and are either decompressed in the bell at the surface or transferred under pressure to a deck decompression chamber for decompression.
bell cursor
Mechanism or structure for guiding and constraining the motion of a bell when in the close vicinity of the deployment platform to improve handling in bad weather.[3]
bell diving
1.  Any diving operation in which the divers travel in or work from a diving bell
2.  Diving operations in which divers are transported in and deployed from a closed bell, either as a surface oriented (bell bounce) or saturation dive.[15]
bell harness
A safety harness made of strong webbing, which is fastened around a diver over the exposure suit, and allows the diver to be lifted without risk of falling out of the harness.[17]
Standby diver in the diving bell[3]
bell run
The part of a bell dive operation from bell lock-off to bell lock-on (to and from the life support system)[3]
bell stage
A framework extending below a closed bell which keeps the base of the pressure vessel off the bottom sufficiently to provide clearance for the divers to use the bottom hatch when the bell is resting on the bottom or on the clump weight.
bell umbilical

The combined supply and return hoses and cables for life-support, power and communications between a diving bell and the support platform

belt slide

also belt slider, triglide, weight stop, weight slider

Hardware item with two parallel slots which is fitted to harness or weightbelt webbing to prevent other components such as D-rings and weights from sliding along the webbing.[6]

bent D-ring
A D-ring which has been bent about 45° near the straight section on both sides, forcing it to project slightly from the harness when pushed to one side, allowing easier attachment of clips.
Decompression sickness: Injury caused by bubble formation in the body tissues after hyperbaric exposure.
Built in breathing system. A demand breathing gas supply system with external exhaust used to provide chamber occupants with breathing gases other than the gas used to pressurise the chamber. Used for treatment gases and emergency breathing gas if the chamber is contaminated.[9]
Billy ring
Three D rings welded together along their straight sides so that one is perpendicular to the other two. This uses the two flat rings to maintain the third in an upright position when mounted on harness webbing, allowing it to be more easily accessed to clip on stage cylinders. Named after Captain Billy Deans.[6]
BK hook

also B.K. hook or BK safety hook

A type of safety lifting hook which is held closed when under load by a lever system where the weight of the load holds the bill of the hook against the safety latch.[18]

blending stick
Mixing tube in which gases are continuously mixed prior to intake by a compressor, usually at atmospheric pressure.[7] Usually refers to manufacture of nitrox from air with added oxygen, but also used for trimix. Gas mixture is usually continuously analysed at the exit of the blending stick to monitor composition.
blind traverse
Passing through a cave from one entrance to a different exit which the diver has not used before.[6]
block adaptor
Screw-in adaptor fitting which is fitted to a 200/240 bar DIN pillar valve to allow connection of a yoke regulator or filling whip.
Procedure of pressurising a diving chamber or saturation habitat.

Uncontrolled release of crude oil and/or natural gas from a well after pressure control systems have failed.

blowout preventer

also BOP

A large, specialized valve used to seal, control and monitor oil and gas wells. Generally operated remotely by hydraulic ram.

blue hole

A sink hole in a lake or the sea that is often the entrance to a cave. Blue holes in the sea are subject to tides so that their flows regularly reverse.[6]

bolt snap

also piston bolt

A metal connecter comprising a hook with a spring-loaded axial sliding rod which must be manually retracted to allow the hook to be clipped onto something or removed. May be single- or double-ended, and if single-ended is usually fitted with a swivel ring opposite the jaws.

Commercial diver slang for high pressure gas storage cylinder of around 50 litres water capacity, also known as a J.
bondage wing

see bungee wing

Derogatory term for bungee wing based on fetishist terminology.[19]

The upper part of a copper helmet which encloses the diver's head and is sealed to the lower part or corselet (q.v.)

also booster pump

see also compressor

Machine used to increase pressure of a gas. Usually refers to the case where inlet pressure is above ambient pressure already.

BOP stack
Blowout preventer stack: An assembly of several blowout preventer rams which may be used to shut off a well.
bottom gas
The gas breathed by the diver at the deepest part of the dive. Compare with travel gas and decompression gas.
bottom time
Time used in calculating decompression obligation from decompression tables. For most tables this is defined as the elapsed time from starting the descent to starting the final ascent to the surface, excluding ascent and decompression time.
bottom timer
Device used to measure and record the total time spent underwater during a dive. They do not generally only record bottom time {q.v.}.
bounce dive
1.  also surface oriented dive: In commercial diving, bounce diving is the alternative to saturation diving. Any dive where the diver is decompressed directly after the dive.
2.  In recreational diving, a bounce dive is a descent to maximum depth and then a direct ascent back to the surface with the minimal bottom time, in a dive profile resembling a spike.

see bailout valve


Knot used to form a secure, non-slipping loop at the end of a line.

Boyle's law

Relationship between pressure and volume at constant temperature in an ideal gas.

breakdown room
An area in a cave where a large amount of material has fallen from the overhead.[6]
The point at which an object being lifted which is partly embedded in the bottom sediments overcomes the adhesion of the sediments and the force required to lift it drops to the apparent weight of the object.
breathing gas

Gas supplied to the diver to breathe, either directly to the diver or to the hyperbaric environment of the diving bell, dive chamber or saturation habitat.[15]

breathing loop
The gas flow path in a rebreather comprising the diver's lungs, the mouthpiece, valves, hoses, counterlungs and scrubber through which gas is rebreathed.
Broco cutter
A type of thermal lance initiated by an electric arc, in common use for underwater cutting work.
Baited Remote Underwater Video. A system for assessing fish populations using video cameras to record fish attracted to a bait canister.

Béance tubaire volontaire: Voluntary opening of the Eustachian tubes to equalise the middle ear.

bubble models

Decompression models based on the assumption that bubbles will form during non-symptomatic decompression.

buccal pumping

see glossopharangeal insufflation

buddy bottle
Bailout cylinder carried by a scuba diver, particularly when diving solo.[6]
buddy breathing
Sharing breathing gas from one demand valve by two or more divers, generally after an out-of-gas emergency.
buddy check

A procedure carried out by scuba divers using the buddy system where each diver checks that the other's diving equipment is configured, fitted, and functioning correctly just before entering the water to dive.

buddy diving

A safety procedure where two or three divers monitor each other constantly during a dive and provide assistance or rescue when needed.

buddy line
A short line between two divers, used to maintain contact during a dive, generally in poor visibility, or other conditions where the divers might become separated and not be able to quickly locate each other.
buddy system

A procedure where two divers look out for the safety of each other, and give assistance if the other gets into difficulty.

Bühlmann tables
Bühlmann algorithm

Diving tables and decompression algorithm on which the tables are based, and some dive computers are programmed, based on the dissolved gas decompression model derived and tested by Dr A.A. Bühlmann.

bungee (sidemount)

see also ring bungee

Length of shock cord used to restrain the top end of side mount cylinders and keep them tucked in at the diver's shoulder while swimming.[16] Usually clipped to the shoulder D-ring(s) of the harness and looped around the cylinder valve. May be attached to the back of the harness between the shoulder blades, or run continuous from one shoulder D-ring, around the back under the arms to the other shoulder D-ring.

bungee wing
Back inflation buoyancy compensator with shock cord lacing or loops which exert a force on the bladder to oppose expansion during inflation.
1.  (Main article: Buoyancy). Upward force on an object immersed in a fluid due to pressure exerted over the immersed surface.
2.  Resultant upward force of buoyancy and weight of an object immersed in a fluid.
buoyancy check
Procedure to test and adjust weights carried by an underwater diver. The diver wears all the personal equipment to be used for the planned dive, with the scuba tank(s) nearly empty, and the buoyancy compensator empty, in shallow water of the same density as expected on the dive, and adds or removes weights until neutrally buoyant. After the buoyancy check it is usual to distribute the weights for safety, trim and convenience.
buoyancy compensator

also BC, BCD, buoyancy compensator device, ABLJ, horse collar, stabilisor jacket, stab jacket or wing

An airtight bladder worn by a diver which can be filled with air and vented to adjust and control the buoyancy of the diver.

buoyancy control
The skill of maintaining the appropriate buoyancy at any time during a dive.
burn tester
Device for measuring the actual capacity of a battery relative to its nominal capacity, and the associated functional time for the device that the battery is powering.[6]
burn time
The effective use time of a battery powered device. Mainly used in reference to dive lights and scooters.[6]
burst disk

A non-reclosing pressure relief device used to protect a diving cylinder from overpressurization.

butterfly clip
A type of bolt snap with a tapered guide gate opening formed by a protrusion on both the piston and the fixed sides of the gate.[6]
butterfly D-ring
A plate with two D-shaped cutouts on opposite sides of two to four parallel longitudinal slots for webbing. Used at the top back of the crotch strap in place of a butt-plate (q.v.) on minimalist sidemount harnesses.[16]
A rigid or fairly stiff flexible lower extension to a backplate or other scuba harness supporting butt-plate rails, used for clipping off the lower end of sidemount cylinders to the harness.[16]


cage diving
Diving in a cage designed to protect the diver from potentially aggressive large marine animals, usually sharks
Catenary anchor leg mooring. Named for the catenary curve of the anchor cables that hold the buoy in position. Also referred to as single buoy mooring, monobuoy or loading buoy.[3]
cam band
A strap, usually of webbing, with a cam action tensioner buckle generally used to secure a diving cylinder to a backplate, stabilisor jacket BCD or other form of diving harness.
A closed lifting bag, usually cylindrical in form.
canister light
Dive light comprising a light head connected to a battery canister by a cable.[19]
canoe diving

Scuba diving from canoes, used when the dive site is beyond convenient swimming distances.

carbon dioxide poisoning

The toxic effects of carbon dioxide, due to incomplete elimination of carbon dioxide resulting from skip breathing, excessive work of breathing, scrubber failure in a rebreather system, or inadequate ventilation in a diving chamber or free flow helmet. Occasionally caused by contaminated gas supply.

carbon monoxide poisoning

The toxic effects of carbon monoxide, usually due to contaminated breathing gas supply.

cardio-pulmonary resuscitation

An emergency procedure which is performed in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person in cardiac arrest


see also critical pressure

Critical Air Supply, the amount of breathing air required to safely exit a penetration dive. When the air supply reaches this level the dive has reached a planned turning point.[6]

cascade filling

Decanting from several storage cylinders in succession, generally using a procedure to maximise charge pressures. Often used in partial pressure gas blending.

caustic cocktail
A mixture of water and carbon dioxide absorbent caused by flooding the scrubber, and which may reach the diver's mouth through the breathing loop. The alkalinity depends on the absorbent used.
A naturally occurring cavity in bedrock, or an underwater passage not illuminated by natural daylight, large enough to be entered by a human. Statute 810.13 of the Florida legislature defines a cave as: any void, cavity, recess, or system of interconnecting passages which naturally occurs beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge, including natural subsurface water and drainage systems but not including any mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or other manmade excavation, and which is large enough to permit a person to enter. The word "cave" includes any cavern, natural pit, or sinkhole which is an extension of an entrance to a cave.[6]
cave arrow

Directional line markers which point the way to an exit.

cave fill
Filling a scuba cylinder to a pressure significantly above the rated safe working pressure (charging pressure).[6] Illegal in some jurisdictions, and increases risk of catastrophic failure.
cave line
1.  see distance line
2.  Small diameter braided synthetic cordage used for this purpose.
cave reel

A reel specifically made for cave diving, used to lay and recover large lengths of cave line which is used as a guide line to find the exit or a permanent guide line.

1.  Two or more interconnected underground rooms or passages in bedrock, each large enough to be entered by a human.[6]
2.  The initial room of an underwater cave system that is illuminated by natural daylight.[6]
3.  A naturally occurring cavity in bedrock or an underwater passage, large enough to be entered by a human, which is illuminated by natural daylight, or in which it is possible from all points to see the exit by natural daylight.
cavern dive
Visibility greater than 40 feet, Maximum penetration of 130 feet, Maximum depth of 70 feet, and always within the ambient sunlight area. No passing through restrictions.[6]
C-card or certification card
Plastic card issued to a diver by a certification agency as evidence of completed diver training and experience required for the level of certification.
Closed Circuit Rebreather: see also ECCR, MCCR.
Closed Circuit Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Military alternative term for CCR
Solid overhead or decompression restriction to a safe direct vertical ascent to the surface

A sinkhole in Mexico. Generally with vertical overhanging walls or shafts with water that open into a cave system.[6]

charlie foxtrot
Occasion when the situation diverges notably and usually uncontrollably from the plan, sometimes involving immediate hazard to life and limb, and often involving poor judgement.[19]
chain chaser
Ring or hook shaped components used for installing and recovering conventional mooring systems. The chaser is hooked around the chain and pulled in the direction of the ancor until it slides onto the anchor shank and is stopped by the crown. The chaser is then used to break the anchor out by pulling directly upwards.[3]
chamber operator
Person competent to operate a diving chamber
charging pressure
Pressure stamped on a container for a permanent gas to indicate the maximum gauge pressure (measured or corrected to 15°C) that may be applied at the time of filling.[20]
Charles's law

Relation of volume to temperature at constant pressure of an ideal gas.

chicken vest
Sleeveless neoprene wetsuit vest with attached hood.[21][22]
A section of a cave that is vertical or near vertical and like a shaft.[6]
Chinese lantern
Connection between pipeline end manifold (PLEM) and single point mooring buoy (SPM) using two to four separate flexible underwater hose strings.[3]
choker (sidemount)

A strap around the neck of a sidemount cylinder used to hold the bolt snap closer to the neck so that the head of the cylinder stays closer to the diver's armpit. The choker can be a small webbing strap with a sliding buckle for adjustment, so it can be tightened to bring the clip closer to the neck or slacked off while in use.


A symptom of decompression sickness manifested by shortness of breath, caused by a large number of venous gas bubbles in the lung capillaries which interfere with gas exchange.[19]

Christmas tree

also tree

An assembly of valves, spools, and fittings installed on top of the wellhead and used primarily to control the flow, usually oil or gas, out of the well.[3]

Christmas tree ladder
A boarding ladder which has a single central rail with rigid cantilevered rungs to each side, allowing use while wearing swimfins.[23]
Usually Christo-lube MCG111, an oxygen compatible lubricant suitable for use in breathing apparatus in oxygen service.[6]
Cave dive route in which there is a one-way segment. The circuit can be simple or complex depending on the number of jumps involved.[6]

see inshore diving

closed bell

also dry bell

A closed or dry bell is a pressure vessel for human occupation which is lowered into the sea to the workplace, equalised in pressure to the environment, and opened to allow the divers in and out. Divers may be decompressed in the bell or transferred under pressure to a hyperbaric chamber at the surface.

clump weight
A weight used to keep the guide wires of a diving bell aligned.
code of practice
A systematic set of professional standards or written guidelines and rules of procedures to be followed by members of a profession, trade, occupation or organization. A code of practice may be compiled and agreed on by members of a particular profession or written guidelines issued by an official body or a professional association to its members to help them comply with its ethical standards. A code of practice does not normally have the force of law, but is often required or compulsory practice for members of an organisation.
coded welder
Welder who is trained and qualified and assessed as competent for a specified type of welding under specified conditions.
combat swimmer

Person trained in scuba diving or swimming underwater in a military capacity which can include combat

command signal
A signal from a diver in a team that requires a response from another diver. There are three: Are you OK, Hold, and Surface.[6]
commercial diving

Working under pressure: Occupational activity where gas is breathed at pressure in excess of atmospheric pressure, usually underwater.


The process of making a well ready for production.

competent person
Person who is able to perform a task or operation safely and according to required procedures. May require formal assessment or accreditation, or registration with government body.[20]
compressed air
Air at a pressure greater than ambient.
compressed neoprene
Foam neoprene that has been compressed to reduce volume. Used for dry suits which are less affected by depth induced buoyancy changes.
The process of increasing the ambient pressure on a diver by descending into the water or pressurising the chamber.[15]
compression arthralgia

Pain in the joints caused by exposure to high ambient pressure at a relatively high rate of compression


Machine which pressurises gas. Generally intake gas is at ambient pressure, outlet gas at higher pressure. High pressure breathing air compressor output pressure is usually 200 to 330 bar.

compressor log
Book or file containing records of compressor operation, filling of cylinders and maintenance records.
compressor operator
Person who operates a compressor, either to fill cylinders, or to provide breathing air to surface supplied divers.
confined water
Water that is enclosed and bounded sufficiently for safe training purposes. Generally implies that conditions are not affected by geographic or weather conditions, and that divers can not get lost.[24]

Liquid resulting from phase change from gas due to cooling or pressure change.

Tunnel or passage in a cave system.[6]
conservative (decompression)
Decompression profile tending to minimise risk of decompression sickness at the cost of more decompression time for a given pre-ascent dive profile.[5]
constant depth blackout
constant pressure blackout

also isobaric blackout

A Freediving blackout which occurs while the diver maintains a near constant shallow depth, where reduction of oxygen partial pressure due to ascent is not a factor. Usually induced by pre-dive hyperventilation. Also referred to as shallow water blackout, which is an ambiguous term


see restriction

contents gauge

see submersible pressure gauge

continuous decompression

Decompression without stops. Instead of a fairly rapid ascent rate to the first stop, followed by a period at static depth during the stop, the ascent is slower, but without officially stopping. Ascent rate may vary with depth, usually slowing as the depth reduces.

contra-indications to diving
Conditions (usually medical) that indicate that a person should not dive.
control compartment
The tissue compartment that dictates the ascent profile of a given dive because it is theoretically the highest risk compartment for DCS.[5]
controlled buoyant lift

A rescue technique used by scuba divers to raise an incapacitated diver to the surface from depth.

controlled emergency swimming ascent

also CESA

An emergency technique for surfacing, usually when no breathable gas is available at depth. The diver fins upward while gently exhaling to keep expanding air in the lungs from causing lung expansion injuries.[25]

Personal non-directional line markers that mark specific locations, or the direction of one's own exit at line intersections.

copper hat
copper helmet

A diving helmet of traditional design and construction, usually made from spun or beaten copper, with brass or bronze fittings. There are usually two main sub-assemblies; the bonnet is the roughly spherical part which covers the head and is provided with viewports, valves and various other fittings, and the corselet, which rests on the upper torso of the diver, and to which the bonnet is connected when in use, and which may be sealed to the suit and ballasted to compensate for the buoyancy of the airspace inside the helmet.


Breastplate part of a copper helmet and some other heavy helmets, which clamps to the diving suit, and to which the helmet bonnet is clamped, screwed or bolted.


Flexible bag or bellows in a rebreather which compensates for the change in volume in the loop during breathing.


see cardio-pulmonary resuscitation

cracking pressure
Pressure required to open a valve. Often applied to the difference in pressure over the diaphragm of a demand valve required to open the valve to start flow. This may differ significantly from the pressure difference required to keep the valve open once flow has been initiated, and the pressure to keep the valve open may vary with flow rate.
critical air supply

see CAS

critical difference hypothesis

Hypothesis that bubble formation during decompression will not occur if a critical pressure difference between tissue gas tension and inspired gas partial pressure is not exceeded.

critical pressure

Cylinder gas pressure which determines a safe limit to an underwater activity on scuba, such as start of ascent or turnaround during a penetration.

critical ratio hypothesis

Hypothesis that bubble formation during decompression will not occur if a critical ratio of tissue gas tension and inspired gas partial pressure for a given gas is not exceeded.

critical volume hypothesis

Hypothesis that symptoms of decompression sickness will not be evident if a critical volume of tissue gas bubbles is not exceeded.

crotch strap
Harness strap that passes from the lower part of the harness at the back, through between the diver's legs, to the front of the harness, effectively securing the harness from sliding up along the torso. In safety harness this is often in two parts and allows the diver to be lifted by the harness without risk of falling out.[6]
crushed neoprene
Proprietary material for dry suits manufactured by DUI in a process where the foam neoprene suit material is degassed by exposure to high hydrostatic pressure to reduce the volume after assembly. Less buoyancy variation with depth as the material is less compressible after the treatment.[26]
cuff dump
Dump valve mounted on a drysuit cuff, usually relatively small and non-adjustable.

Trademark name Cyalume is a solid ester whose oxidation products are responsible for the chemiluminescence in a glowstick.


The appearance of a blue or purple coloration of the skin or mucous membranes due to the tissues near the skin surface being low on oxygen

1.  Diving cylinder: Refillable compressed gas container of water capacity between 0,5 L and 150 L.[20]
2.  That part of a reciprocating compressor or booster in which the piston is moved to compress the air. The internal space is cylindrical with a circular section. The external surface is usually finned for air cooling.
cylinder boot

Rubber or plastic cover for the base of a scuba cylinder to protect it from abrasion, and in the case of domed end cylinders, to allow it to stand upright.

cylinder valve

Valve fitted to a compressed gas cylinder to control gas flow into and out of the cylinder. Also pillar valve.


Dalton's law
Gas law describing the relation of component pressures of gases in a mixture to the total pressure.[6]

see Divers Alert Network

Derogatory. Any part of a diver's equipment that dangles in a position that might impact the bottom or get caught on the surroundings.[6]
Decompression Analysis and Computation Program: Decompression planning software by Bill Hamilton.[6]

Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (Toronto, Canada).

DCIEM tables

Decompression tables based on the Kidd-Stubbs model, developed and published by the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine.

see decompression illness
Deck decompression chamber: A twin-lock hyperbaric chamber suitable for surface decompression and emergency recompression. Large enough to hold at least two occupants, one of them lying down.
see decompression sickness
dead man anchor
A heavy weight used to control the rise of a lift bag after breakout, or to capsize it to prevent a runaway lift
dead space or dead volume
1.  The volume of a breathing apparatus which holds exhaled air, which is subsequently inhaled directly. without passing through a scrubber to remove carbon dioxide and without oxygen addition.
2.  The volume of inhaled air, which does not take part in gas exchange either because it remains in the conducting airways or in alveoli that are poorly perfused.

To transfer gas between cylinders by differential pressure. No energy is input, flow will stop when pressures are equalised.


Reduction in ambient pressure experienced by the diver during the ascent at the end of a dive or hyperbaric exposure, and the process of allowing dissolved inert gases to be eliminated from the body tissues during this reduction in pressure.[15]

decompression algorithm

Specified step-by step procedures used to calculate the decompression stops needed for a given dive profile. The algorithm can be used to generate decompression schedules for a particular dive profile, decompression tables for more general use, or be implemented in dive computer software.

decompression buoy

see DSMB

decompression chamber

Hyperbaric chamber used for decompressing divers and emergency therapeutic recompression.

decompression gas

Gas breathed during decompression with a composition designed to accelerate decompression, usually by an increased oxygen content.

decompression illness

Illness caused by decompression. Includes decompression sickness and arterial gas embolism due to lung overexpansion barotrauma.

decompression schedule

A specific ascent rate and series of increasingly shallower decompression stops that a diver uses to allow inert gases to be eliminated from the body tissues during ascent after a specific hyperbaric exposure, to reduce the risk of decompression sickness.

decompression sickness

also DCS, divers' disease, the bends or caisson disease

A condition arising from dissolved inert gases coming out of solution during decompression as bubbles in the tissues, organs and blood vessels of the body causing symptoms ranging from rashes to death.

decompression stop

A pause during the ascent phase of a dive that a diver spends at a constant relatively shallow depth to allow safe release of inert gases from the body tissues to avoid decompression sickness.

decompression tables

Printed cards or booklets that allow divers to determine a decompression schedule for a particular dive profile and breathing gas.

decompression trapeze

also decompression bar

A horizontal bar or bars suspended at the depth of intended decompression stops by buoys used to make decompression stops more comfortable and more secure and provide the divers' surface cover with a visual reference for the divers' position.

deep stops

Decompression stops which are deeper than the deepest stops required by decompression algorithms using dissolved phase models.

deep water blackout
1.  see also Freediving blackout. Freediving: Loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia on ascending from a deep breath-hold dive, when the swimmer does not necessarily experience an urgent need to breathe.
2.  Scuba and surface-supplied diving: Loss of consciousness due to extreme nitrogen narcosis.

A condition where the water content of the body is reduced.

demand helmet
Diving helmet which provides gas supply flow only when the diver inhales.
demand valve

Mechanism for providing the user with breathing gas flow only when required.

depth gauge
A pressure gauge calibrated to measure depth as a function of ambient pressure.
developed pressure
The pressure of the compressed gas in a cylinder at a temperature other than the nominal temperature at which charging pressure is specified. Usually refers to pressure when fully charged at a variation in temperature.[20]
Differential Global Positioning System An enhancement to Global Positioning System that provides improved location accuracy. DGPS uses a network of fixed, ground-based reference stations to broadcast the difference between the positions indicated by the satellite systems and the known fixed positions.
Diamond Reef System

Diamond Reef System is a diving skills program that uses a set of standardized portable obstacles to train and evaluate buoyancy skills and educate scuba divers on how to interact with coral reefs.

diffusion limited

Decompression hypothesis that the uptake and elimination of inert gas is limited by diffusion rates in the tissues


also sometimes dil

Gas mixture used to dilute the oxygen in the loop of a closed circuit rebreather to a partial pressure suited to the depth.

DIN fitting

also DIN valve, DIN regulator, DIN thread

Usually refers to G5/8" x 14 tpi[27] parallel thread fittings used to connect a cylinder valve to a filling connection or regulator first stage. Available in 200 bar and 300 bar versions which should only be inter-connectable in safe combinations.

DIN plug

Screw in adaptor which can be used with many recent 200/240 bar DIN cylinder valves to allow connection of Yoke regulators or filling whips.


also Doing It Right

A holistic approach to scuba diving, which encompasses several essential elements, including fundamental diving skills, teamwork, physical fitness, and the use of streamlined and minimalistic equipment configurations.[19]

distance line

also penetration line or guideline

A line used by scuba divers as a means of returning to a safe starting point in conditions of low visibility, water currents or where pilotage is difficult.

dive computer

also decompression computer

A device used by a scuba diver to measure the time and depth of a dive so that a safe ascent profile can be calculated and displayed so that the diver can avoid decompression sickness.[28]

dive factor
Factor used in gas consumption estimates which allows for increased breathing rate due to conditions other than depth. Range from 1.1 for relaxed, stress free conditions to >3.0 for heavy work.[29]
dive flag

Flag used to indicate that there are divers in the water. There are two versions: the international code letter flag 'Alpha', ICS Alpha.svg, and the red flag with white diagonal bar, ICS Diver.svg.

Dive Leader
EN 14153-3 / ISO 24801-3 standard competence for recreational scuba diver. A level 3 "Dive Leader" has sufficient knowledge, skill and experience to plan, organise and conduct their dives and lead other recreational scuba divers in open water, to conduct any specialised recreational scuba diving activities for which they have received appropriate training, plan and execute emergency procedures appropriate for the diving environment and activities. If diving and environmental conditions are significantly different from those previously experienced, they require an appropriate orientation with regard to local environmental conditions, and must have appropriate specialised training and experience to lead on dives which have more demanding operational parameters.[30]
dive marshall
Recreational/club diving equivalent of a diving supervisor. Person who organizes and plans a group dive outing for recreational divers, assesses risk, logs divers into and out of the water and is available at the site to manage incident response.[31]

A professional level recreational diver who leads a group of less experienced or visiting divers underwater.

dive profile

The variation of depth with elapsed time during a dive, often depicted as a graph.

dive tables

see decompression tables

dive time
The total elapsed time spent underwater during a dive.
dive timer
An automatically operated electronic timer which records the elapsed time from the start of a dive.
diver training manual
A publication containing instructional material for diver training. This may relate to a specific certification or a range of certifications, and is usually published either by a certification agency or a diving school for their own use, but may also be published and sold for general consumption.
diver transfer chamber
Hyperbaric chamber connecting other component chambers of a saturation life support system which may be at different pressures.
Divers Alert Network

also DAN

A non-profit organization for assisting divers in need and medical research on recreational scuba diving safety.

diver's attendant

also dive tender

Person who assists the working diver to prepare for a dive, get in and out of the water, and to undress from the diving equipment, and who tends the lifeline or umbilical while the diver is underwater.

diving bell

A rigid chamber suspended from a cable and used to transport divers to depth and back to the surface.

diving chamber
1.  A simple form of submersible vessel to take divers underwater and to provide a temporary base and retrieval system in the depths (diving bell).
2.  A land or ship-based hyperbaric chamber to artificially reproduce the hyperbaric conditions under the sea.
diving contractor
Legal persona responsible for commercial diving operations.
diving depth
Generally the maximum depth to which the diver is exposed during a dive.[15]
diving heavy

see also overweighting

Practice of carrying significantly more ballast weight than necessary to neutralise buoyancy. Common in professional diving operations where the diver needs to remain in firm cintact with the bottom to work effectively, and is tethered by a lifeline or umbilical to a control point at a place of safety, which is managed by a tender.

diving manual
1.  see operations manual
2.  see diver training manual
diving regulator

see regulator

diving response
The diving response exists in all air-breathing vertebrates. It is a series of autonomic responses to apnea which are strengthened by facial cooling and hypoxia. It consists of peripheral vasoconstriction and associated hypertension, vagally induced bradycardia and reduction of cardiac output. This appears to preferentially supply oxygen to the brain. Another aspect is splenic contraction which increases haemoglobin content of the blood.[32]
diving safety officer

The person who administers a United States university's research diving safety program.[33]

diving signals

Hand sign and light sign system used by scuba divers to communicate when underwater.

diving stage

also known as the basket

A platform on which a diver stands which is hoisted into the water, lowered to the workplace at the bottom, and then hoisted up again to return the diver to the surface and lift him out of the water. The diving stage is particularly effective for controlling rate of descent and ascent.

diving superintendent
Person with overall responsibility for commercial diving operations at a large installation.[3]
diving supervisor

Person in charge of, and responsible for safety of a commercial diving operation. Usually trained, assessed as competent, certified and formally appointed by the diving contractor.[15]

diving system
The complete set of equipment necessary to support a diving operation.[15]
Diving Medical Advisory Committee: An independent body of diving medical specialists from Northern Europe which provides advice about medical and certain safety aspects of commercial diving.[34]
Diving medical technician: A paramedic specialising in diving related conditions.
dome port
A domed window of optical quality glass or plastic which covers the front of an underwater camera or video housing.
donating the octopus
donating the primary
Rescue technique where the donor of breathing gas provides it via the primary 2nd stage –- the one from which the donor was breathing –- as it is known to be working and providing the correct gas. The donor then switches to their backup DV, often stowed under the chin by a bungee necklace with a breakaway connection.
donating the secondary
Rescue technique where the donor of breathing gas provides it via the secondary, or octopus, 2nd stage, and continues to breathe off the primary.
donkey dick
Slang term for the corrugated buoyancy compensator inflation and deflation hose.[6]
Doppler bubble detection

Ultrasonic signals reflected from bubble surfaces to identify and quantify gas bubbles present in venous blood.

Dorf arrow
(also line arrow). Triangular plastic line marker with two slots used to indicate the direction of the exit.[6]
down line
A rope leading from the surface down to the underwater workplace which allows a commercial diver to travel directly to and from the job site and to control rate of descent and ascent in the same way as using a shotline. Also sometimes called a jackstay.[35] A downline used for open ocean diving is much the same as a shotline (q.v.), but does not reach all the way to the bottom. A open-ocean downline is weighted at the bottom, and attached to a substantial float at the surface, which may be tethered to the boat. It may be marked at intervals by knots or loops, and may be attached to decompression trapeze system. In some cases a sea anchor may be used to limit wind drift, particularly if attached to a boat with significant windage.[36]
In the direction of flow. Displaced from the reference point in the direction of flow
downstream valve

Valve in which the closure is downstream of the orifice. Pressure in the line tends to assist in opening the valve. When spring-loaded a downstream valve may open automatically if the pressure difference is excessive, thus functioning as a pressure relief valve

down time
Period when planned activities can not be done due to unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances.[3]
DP alert
Status of the dynamic positioning system regarding positional accuracy and reliability. Green indicates normal operation, yellow indicates degraded operation and red indicates emergency.[3]
DP footprint
Dynamic positioning footprint: The area around the nominal position to which a dynamically positioned vessel is constrained by the DP system.[3]
1.  Diver propulsion vehicle.
2.  Dynamically positioned vessel.[19]
A ring shaped like a capital D, usually of stainless steel, stitched or buckled to a diver's harness and used as an attachment point for lifeline, cylinders or other equipment.[19]
Dräger tube
Draeger tube
Indicator tube used for testing breathing gas quality.
drift diving

Any dive where the diver is transported significantly by drifting with currents during the dive.[19]

Ship built or converted for offshore well drilling, using dynamic positioning to maintain position in deep water.[3]
drop weight
Weight used during descent and ascent, but left on the bottom at the guideline during the deep part of the dive when it is not needed due to suit compression.[6]

The process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.

dry bag

Bag which seals in a watertight manner. Used for keeping clothes and other equipment dry in a wet environment.

dry bell

see closed bell

dry filling

Filling scuba cylinders without the use of a water bath for cooling.[37]

dry suit

A watertight suit worn to keep the diver dry and to provide protection from the environment. Thermal insulation may be provided by the suit or garments worn under the suit.

1.  Dive/Surface valve: Valve on the mouthpiece of a rebreather which can be switched between the loop and ambient air at the surface.
2.  Diving support vessel: A ship or boat used as a base for diving operations, particularly if designed or fitted out for that purpose.

also delayed surface marker buoy

An inflatable marker buoy deployed from underwater to indicate the position of a diver and to control ascent rate. Can also be used to mark a position or signal an emergency.

duckbill valve

A non-return valve, manufactured from rubber or synthetic elastomer, and shaped somewhat like the beak of a duck. Used as exhaust valve in some twin-hose diving regulators

dump valve
Valve used to release excess air from a drysuit or buoyancy compensator.[6]
dynamic positioning

Method of keeping a diving support platform in position without anchoring, using thrusters and positional feedback.


Medical conditions resulting from changes in ambient pressure.



Equivalent Air Depth. Depth at which partial pressure of nitrogen in a Nitrox mixture at a given depth is equal to the partial pressure of nitrogen in air. Used in decompression calculations.

Enriched Air Nitrox, see Nitrox
ear beer
A mixture of alcohol and acetic acid in water used as a drying agent and disinfectant to rinse the ears after diving, to prevent ear infections.
ear clearing

Equalising the pressure in the middle and external ear by opening the Eustachian tubes. Several techniques are used.

Electronic closed circuit rebreather. Sometime ECCCR for electronically controlled closed circuit rebreather.
eddy current test
Method of non-destructive testing using electromagnetic induction to detect flaws in conductive materials. It is used to detect cracks in parallel neck threads of aluminium cylinders. Also called Visual Plus inspection. Required for cylinders of AA6351 alloy.
European Diving Technology Committee. International comittee of European representatives promoting good standards for diving and co-ordinating, where possible, differing standards with the aim of making European professional diving safer.[15][38]
E-L algorithm

also Thalmann algorithm, (VVAL18)

Exponential-Linear algorithm of 2008 US Navy tables, assumes exponential ingassing and a combination of linear and exponential outgassing rates.

electro-galvanic oxygen sensor
An electro-chemical fuel cell which produces a voltage proportional to the partial pressure of oxygen.
emergency position indicating radio beacon

also emergency beacons or EPIRB,

Emergency position-indicating radio beacons are tracking transmitters which aid in the detection and location of boats and people in distress at sea.

emergency swimming ascent

also ESA, Controlled emergency swimming ascent, CESA

Emergency procedure where the diver makes an ascent from depth after a breathing gas supply failure.

Equivalent Nitrogen Depth or Equivalent Narcotic Depth. The depth at which the narcotic effects of nitrogen in a given Trimix mixture at a given depth are equivalent to the effects of air. Used to choose nitrogen content of a Trimix breathing gas for a planned dive profile.

see emergency position indicating radio beacon

Balance pressure of a gas filled space with the ambient pressure, by adding or venting gas, to prevent barotrauma or pressure damage.
equivalent air depth

also EAD

A way of approximating the decompression requirements of nitrox mixtures at depth by comparison with the depth at which air would require the same decopression.

equivalent narcotic depth

also END

A way of expressing the narcotic effect of a breathing gas mixture at depth by comparison with the depth at which air would have a similar effect.

exceptional exposure
A dive in which the risk of decompresssion sickness, oxygen toxixity, and/or exposure to the elements is substantially greater than on a normal working dive.[39]
excursion dive
Saturation diving where the divers work at a depth deeper or shallower than the saturation depth, after which they are returned to the original saturation pressure.[15]
excursion umbilical

The combined supply and return hoses and cables for life-line, life-support, power and communications between a diving bell and the diver

extraction ratio

also: ventilation/oxygen extraction ratio

Ratio between minute ventilation and oxygen uptake, the volume rate of gas breathed to the amount of oxygen taken up in the bloodstream. A typical surface extraction ratio of 20 would mean that for every 20 litres of gas breathed, 1 litre of oxygen would be absorbed in the lungs.


Viewport of a full face mask or helmet
farmer john
Wet suit that covers the torso and legs only; it resembles a bib overall or salopettes.
fatigue cracking

Cracking in a material resulting from multiple stress cycles below the ultimate or yield strength. Usually refers to large number of cycles.

feather breathing
Technique for emergency breathing from a free-flowing demand valve where the diver manually controls air flow by opening and closing the cylinder valve.

see full-face mask

Feet fresh water. Unit of pressure equal to 1/34 atm. Not a linear measure of depth.

Process for removing impurities from a fluid. Particulates are commonly removed by passing the fluid through porous material with pore size small enough to trap the particles (e.g. micron filters). Liquids and gases are commonly absorbed or adsorbed by the surface of the filter medium (Activated carbon, Molecular sieve, Silica gel), or may be chemically combined with the medium (Sodalime) or catalytically converted (Hopcalite) into a less objectionable substance.

fin keepers
Elastic rubber straps used to help prevent fins from falling off the diver's feet.
first stage

see Diving regulator#First stage

Diving regulator component which reduces gas pressure from stoage pressure in the cylinder to interstage pressure for supply to the second stage and for suit and BC inflation.

flood-up valve
valve in a diving bell which allows air to escape and water level to rise
Movement of water through a cave system. Similar in meaning to current in open water.[6]
fluorocarbon elastomers
Synthetic elastomers (rubber) with good performance in high partial pressures of oxygen. Preferred material for o-rings in diving regulators for oxygen service.
flutter kick
finning style where the fins are alternately moved up and down by movements of the full, usually fairly straight, leg.[6] Thrust is developed on both up and down strokes. See also modified flutter kick

Condensation of water vapour on the inside surface of a mask or helmet faceplate, reducing visibility.

forward roll entry
Water entry technique used by scuba divers from a boat or platform too high or unsuitable for backward roll entry. The diver bends forward at the hips and waist and falls forward into the water, making a partial somersault and breaking the water with the cylinder, back and shoulders. Not suitable for heights more than about 2 m.
four-wire system
Voice communications using separate wire pairs for each direction.
Transportable assemblies of gas cylinders connected by a manifold and securely mounted to a structural framework.[3]
free air

see also free gas

Air at normal atmospheric pressure

Underwater diving that does not involve the use of external breathing apparatus, but relies on a diver's ability to hold his or her breath until resurfacing. also Breath-hold diving, and apnea (q.v.).

free flow
1.  Constant flow rate air supply
2.  Malfunction of a demand regulator where the valve sticks in the open position, allowing a constant rate of flow.
free flow helmet
A helmet where the breathing air supply is supplied at an approximately constant rate regardless of the diver's instantaneous breathing rate.
free gas
Gas at normal atmospheric pressure. Usually refers to the volume of some amount of compressed gas when allowed to expand to atmospheric pressure at constant temperature
free gas volume
Equivalent volume of compressed gas if expanded to atmospheric pressure at constant temperature.[40]
Frenzel maneuver

Technique for equalising the middle ear by pinching the nose closed and moving the back of the tongue upwards.

frog kick

Finning technique where thrust is developed by sweeping the fins horizontally toward each other with the fins twisted into a nearly vertical plane, with the soles facing each other, followed by a recovery stroke which develops negligible thrust where the fin blades are feathered. The legs are fairly straight during the power stroke. See also modified frog kick


A scuba diver, particularly a military diver on an undercover mission.

feet sea water: Unit of pressure equal to 1/33 atm. Not a linear measure of depth. Generally defined as the pressure exerted by a foot depth of seawater having a specific gravity of 1.027 and is approximately equal to 0.445 pounds per square inch.[41]
full duplex

Voice communication system where both users can transmit and receive at the same time. Compare with half duplex

full-face mask
Diving mask covering the eyes, nose and mouth, and provides the diver with breathing gas


The space between two cave guidelines. Usually between a main guideline and a branch line.
gap spool
A relatively short length of cave line on a spool used to bridge a gap between lines when making an excursion from the main guideline to a branch guideline.
(also gator (US)) Textile legging wrapped around the calf and ankle area over a dry suit to restrict the amount of air that can get into the lower leg area. Also can reduce drag of the suit in this area by smoothing over creases and folds.
gas blender
1.  Person who mixes breathing gases for diving, filling diving cylinders with gas mixes such as nitrox or trimix.
2.  Qualification to mix breathing gases for diving.[42]
gas blending

Mixing breathing gases for diving, filling diving cylinders with gas mixes such as nitrox or trimix.

gas embolism

Blockage of blood vessel by a bubble of gas.

gaseous impurities
Contaminants in the compressed breathing air or gas mixture which are in gaseous form. Compare with particulate and condensate impurities.
gas fraction

The fraction by molecular count, volume or pressure (they all come to the same thing) of a specific gas in a mixture of gases.

gas panel

The control equipment for providing breathing gas to surface supplied divers via umbilicals. Primary and reserve gas is supplied to the panel through shutoff valves from a low pressure compressor or high pressure storage cylinders.

gas reversal point
The depth during an ascent or decompression when the intake of dissolved gas is exceeded by outgassing.
gauge mode
Operating mode for a personal dive computer where the decompression calculation is disabled, and the unit operated only as a timer and depth gauge. Typically used when diving with gas mixtures not supported by the algorithm, in which case decompression tables are used to monitor and control the decompression schedule.
gauge pressure

Gauge pressure is zero-referenced against ambient air pressure, so it is equal to absolute pressure minus atmospheric pressure

gauge snubber
A needle valve or small bore orifice between the pressure supply and the gauge which damps pressure fluctuations.
Gay-Lussac's law

Relation between temperature and pressure in an ideal gas for a constant volume.

general gas equation
general gas law
1.  Relation between the variables pressure, volume and temperature for a given mass of a given mixture of an ideal gas.
2.  Thermodynamic equation of state for gases for the variables volume, pressure, temperature and number and atomic weight of molecules.
glossopharangeal insufflation

also buccal pumping, lung packing

A method used by freedivers for filling the lungs with more air than maximal inspiration to normal total lung capacity (TLC). After a full inhalation, the diver fills the mouth with air, while the glottis remains closed, then opens the glottis and forces this air into the lung using the cheeks and tongue to reduce the mouth volume. This may be repeated several times.[43]

A single-use, translucent plastic tube containing isolated substances that, when combined, make light through chemiluminescence
A general purpose adjective to denote particularly difficult section of cave, which may be low, tight, silty, etc. or a combination.[6]
go into decompression
Incur a decompression obligation. Generally refers to having a theoretical tissue inert gas concentration that requires the diver to make staged decompression stops during ascent to avoid an unacceptable risk of symptomatic decompression sickness according to the decompression model, algorithm, tables or dive computer in use.
Golden rule
The convention in cave diving that anyone can turn the dive at any time for any reason.[6]
gold line
The permanent main guideline in a cave system, that usually starts well inside the cave. Often yellow or gold in colour.[6]
Goodman handle
A handle used to carry the primary dive light head comprising a rigid slot through which the fingers and palm of the hand are extended, so that the light rests on the back of the hand, facing the direction of the extended fingers.

A satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites

gradient factor

A way of modifying the M-value of a decompression algorithm to a more conservative value. Often used to bias the algorithm towards deeper stops.

guide line

see distance line



also Haldanean

Decompression models based on the principles described by John Scott Haldane.

An alternative reserve calculation strategy to the rule of thirds for breathing stage cylinders. The cylinder is breathed down to half of its starting pressure plus 200 psi, so that a stage cylinder filled to 3000 psi would be breathed down to 1700 psi before being dropped.[6] This is a less conservative strategy for pressures greater than 1200psi.
half duplex

Voice communications system where users take turns to send and receive.

half mask
Diver's mask which covers the eyes and nose but not the mouth.
half times

see tissue half times


A strong variation in salinity over a small depth range within a body of water. Often visible as a blurred or shimmering region due to uneven refractive index.[19]

hand-off cylinder
A diving cylinder, complete with regulator, which can be handed off to another diver in an emergency, so that the two divers are not obliged to remain in close proximity during the exit and ascent. Transfer of a hand-off cylinder should not compromise either diver's buoyancy to the extent that they cannot make a normal, controlled ascent at neutral buoyancy.
To remain stationary at a specific depth and location, particularly when decompressing.[6]
hard hat diving
Surface supplied diving, generally in professional diving, either wearing a modern diving helmet or the old-style standard diving dress and brass helmet.
hardwire communications
Voice communications using a cable for transmission.
straps and webbing with associated buckles, D-rings and other accessories used to support the breathing apparatus and secure it to the diver. The harness often has other functions such as supporting weighting and buoyancy control systems and for recovery of the diver from the water.
Commercial diver term for diving helmet.
Hazard identification study: A systematic qualitative assessment of potential hazards and threats to health, safety, equipment, property, environment production or reputation. May be followed by a risk assessment.
hazmat diving

Diving in a known hazardous materials environment. The environment may be contaminated by hazardous materials, the diving medium may be inherently a hazardous material, or the environment in which the diving medium is situated may include hazardous materials with a significant risk of exposure to these materials to members of the diving team. Special precautions, equipment and procedures are associated with hazmat diving.

heavy gear

see standard diving dress


Mixtures of helium and oxygen for use as a breathing gas.[42][12]


Trimix blends made by topping up helium with air.[12]

helicopter turn
Manoeuver in which a (usually horizontally trimmed) diver uses small fin movements to rotate on the spot on a vertical axis.

An inert gas which is used as a component of breathing gas mixtures for deep diving.

helium analyzer

An instrument used to identify the presence and concentration of helium in a mixture of gases

helmet diving

see hard hat diving

Henry's law
Description of the relation between solubility of a given gas in a given liquid as pressure varies.
HID light
High intensity discharge light: Used in cave diving light heads (q.v.).
Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis: A risk management procedure for identifying hazards and assessing the risk associated with them and ways to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
High pressure, generally gas pressures in excess of 30 bar. In diving context gas working pressures do not frequently exceed 300bar, but pressures in hydraulic systems may be considerably higher.
Hogarthian configuration
A scuba combination of backplate, wing, one-piece harness with crotch-strap, regulator arrangement including long-hose primary with a necklaced secondary demand valve, and, if used with twin cylinders, an isolation manifold. Named after Willian Hogarth Main, a developer and proponent of the system.[19]
Hog looped
A scuba configuration where the primary demand valve has a long hose which is routed under the righr arm, usually tucked under a light battery canister on the waist belt of the harness, and around behind the neck to reach the mouth from the right hand side. Part of the Hogarthian configuration (q.v.).[19]
Amateur blended mixed gas.[19]
Close-fitting thermal head protection, usually neoprene foam, but also latex on some dry suits.

also hooka and airline diving

Also known as airline diving; surface supplied diving where the breathing air is supplied to the diver by a simple hose. The diver usually breathes through a mouth held demand valve.

hook breathing

also recovery breathing

A technique used by freedivers on surfacing to reduce the risk of surface blackout. A partial exhalation is made, followed by a quick inhalation, then the diver closes the airway and pressurises for a few seconds as if about to cough. This is repeated a few times over the first 30 seconds or so on the surface. The aim is to keep thoracic pressure slightly raised to artificially raise arterial oxygen partial pressure or prevent it from dropping in the critical seconds until newly oxygenated blood can reach the brain, and thereby prevent surface blackout. This is the same technique used by pilots during high-g maneuvers, and by mountaineers at high altitude.


Catalyst sometimes used in air filters to oxidise carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. Hopcalite is a mixture of manganese oxide, copper oxide and a small amount of silver oxide.

horse collar

see adjustable buoyancy lifejacket[19]

hot mix
breathing gas mixture with a high percentage of oxygen for the depth at which it is used. Using a gas mixture with a high partial pressure of oxygen.
hot water suit

An insulated pipe in the umbilical line, which links the diver to the surface support, carries the hot water from a heater on the surface down to the suit. The diver controls the flow rate of the water allowing him to vary the warmth of the suit.


High-pressure nervous syndrome: A neurological and physiological diving disorder that results when a diver descends below about 500 feet (150 m) while breathing a helium–oxygen mixture.

Hyperbaric rescue capsule. A self contained buoyant hyperbaric chamber intended for emergency evacuation of saturation divers under pressure from a platform which has become so dangerous that it is considered safer to put the divers into the sea in the HRC to be picked up by a rescue vessel for transfer to another hyperbaric system for decompression.
Health and Safety Executive (UK), Government department responsible for occupational diver safety in UK.

Cylinder valve body with two outlets and two valve mechanisms which can be independently controlled so that two regulator first stages can be fitted. Similar to Y-valve but in configuration where the second valve is parallel to the primary, though the secondary valve can sometimes be swivelled.

Slang/abbreviation for hydrostatic test(q.v.)[19]
hydrostatic pressure

Pressure due to the weight of the water column above a point at depth.

hydrostatic test

Non-destructive test to revalidate pressure vessels which uses water as a test medium. The vessel is pressurised to the test pressure (q.v.) and measured for permanent set.


Deep diving breathing gas mixture of hydrogen, helium and oxygen.


Deep diving breathing gas mixture of hydrogen and oxygen.

hyperbaric evacuation system
System for evacuating divers under pressure from a saturation system in an emergency.[15]
hyperbaric lifeboat
A lifeboat with a hyperbaric chamber and life support system built into it for evacuating saturation divers in an emergency.
Additional filter to produce air of oxygen compatible quality. This may be built into the filling system or temporarily connected when required.

Excessive level of carbon dioxide in the body.

1.  A deliberate deep breathing to reduce blood carbon dioxide level to extend the duration of a free dive.
2.  Rapid breathing as the body's response to hypercapnia.
3.  Rapid, often shallow breathing, associated with panic.
hyperventilation-induced blackout
see underwater blackout syndrome

Abnormally low tissue and blood carbon dioxide concentration.

A lowering of deep body temperature due to heat loss.

Abnormally low tissue oxygen concentration: Insufficient oxygen in the body to support normal activities or consciousness.

hypoxic training
prolonged underwater distance swimming or extended breath-hold intervals.[44]


International Diving Regulators Forum: A voluntary group of diving regulators and certifying agencies formed to work together toward mutual recognition and to identify and implement best practices in diver training with the object of harmonizing cross border diver training standards outside Europe. Members include Australia, Canada, France, Norway, South Africa and United Kingdom.[45]
International Diving Schools Association: Formed with the primary purpose of developing common internationional diving standards for all occupational divers, Offshore, Inshore and Inland, and specialist related non-diving qualifications e.g. Supervisor, DMT and LST.[46]
International Marine Contractors Association.
inert gas

A gas which is not metabolically active, used to dilute the breathing gas.


Inert gas uptake in body tissues during a dive or other hyperbaric exposure.

inherent unsaturation

Metabolic reduction of total gas pressure in the tissues.

inshore diver
Colloquial term for a diver who works on inland dive sites or coastal waters not associated with the oil and gas industry. also referred to as "civils" as much of this work is connected with civil engineering works.[3]
internal condition of cylinder
The state of the internal surface of a cylinder regarding corrosion, contamination and cracking.
interstitial emphysema
Gas trapped in the spaces between organs after lung barotrauma.
Intermediate Pressure, or Interstage Pressure. The reduced pressure between the first and second stages of a diving regulator. Also referred to as LP (Low Pressure) in this context.
isobaric blackout
see constant depth blackout
isobaric counterdiffusion
Isobaric counterdiffusion: The diffusion of gases in opposite directions caused by a change in the composition of the external ambient gas or breathing gas without change in the ambient pressure.
isolation manifold
Connection between two scuba cylinders which when open allows free flow of gas in both directions between the cylinders, but has an isolation valve to block this flow.
isolation valve
1.  valve in an isolation manifold (q.v.) used to close the gas passage through the manifold and isolate the contents of the two cylinders. Used to prevent a leak on one cylinder from causing the other cylinder to also lose gas.


A line secured at both ends to serve as a support[47] or guide.
Jack-up rig

A type of mobile platform that consists of a buoyant hull fitted with a number of movable legs, capable of raising its hull over the surface of sea. The buoyant hull enables transportation of the unit and all attached machinery to a desired location. Once on location the hull is raised to the required elevation above the sea surface on its legs supported by the sea bed.

Bulk gas storage cylinder with internal volume 50 litres.
Jersey upline

see upline

JIC fitting

A type of pipe and hose fitting with a 37-degree flare seating surface. Commonly used in umbilical hose connections.

JIM suit

An atmospheric diving suit manufactured by Underwater Marine Equipment Limited.

jocking strap
webbing strap system used with diving helmets to hold the helmet assembly down on the diver to prevent buoyancy lifting it when underwater.

A short line used to connect to a shotline or anchor line, allowing the diver to move a short horizontal distance away to decompress. The line helps compensate for vertical movement in the anchor line or shot line due to waves.

job safety analysis

A procedure to integrate health and safety principles and practices into a particular task or job. Each basic step of the job analysed to identify potential hazards and controls for each hazard.

A path from a main guideline to another which is not in contact
jump camera
A camera mounted on a frame, which when lowered to the bottom of a body of water, takes a photograph, usually of the bottom under the camera. The frame constrains the camera to a fixed camera to subject distance, resulting in photographs of uniformly sized areas of bottom, equivalent to quadrats.
Jump jacket
The Jump Jacket[48] is a harness with integral buoyancy jacket specifically designed for commercial diving work with helmets and bells.
jump line

A short cave line used to connect between two permanent lines that are not in contact. May also be used to search for the other end of a break in a cave line and repair the break

jump reel
jump spool
A reel or spool with a relatively short line intended to be used as a jump line (q.v.).

Scuba cylinder valve with lever operated reserve mechanism.[49]


kayak diving

Diving from a special purpose kayak used to get to the site where the distance from a suitable entry and exit point is inconvenient for shore diving.


Scuba cylinder valve without reserve mechanism.



A piece of cordage used to secure or lower things, usually it is used where there is a risk of losing the object

Launch and Recovery System (q.v.)
launch and recovery sysytem
Mechanised system for launching and recovery of a diving bell, diving stage, submersible or ROV from a vessel, offshore platform, dockside or other platform.

An uncontrolled/involuntary muscular contraction (spasm) of the laryngeal cords which causes a partial blocking of breathing in, while breathing out remains easier.

latent hypoxia
While freediving, an arterial pO2 which is sufficient to sustain consciousness at depth, but when ascending drops to hyoxic levels due to the reduction of ambient pressure, associated with ascent blackout.
lay barge

also pipelay barge

Barge on which pipeline sections are assembled, welded and laid on the seabed as the barge is moved forward.[3]

lazy shot

Shot line (q.v.) which does not reach the bottom

Local dive shop
Light emitting diode, commonly used in dive lights.
A line connected securely to the diver at one end and anchored at the other end at the diving control point, which is handled by a line tender, and is used to communicate with the diver and provide a means of finding the diver for a surface standby diver, and for assisting the diver to the surface and back to the control point if necessary.
life support
life support system
Equipment vital to the short term survival of the diver. Most notably the breathing gas supply, and for saturation diving, equipment for providing a correctly pressurised environment. In some cases thermoregulatory equipment is also considered life support, and in saturation diving, all of the peripheral systems essential to maintaining a habitable saturation system.
life support supervisor
A senior life support technician appointed by the diving contractor to supervise the operation of saturation life-support systems.[15]
life support technician

see LST

lifting bag

A robust and air-tight bag with straps, which is used to lift heavy objects underwater by means of the bag's buoyancy.

light head
The part of a canister light (q.v.) which emits light, and is held in the hand or mounted on the helmet.
lightweight helmet

Low volume, close fitting diving helmet, usually with demand valve. Neutrally buoyant, and moves with the diver's head.

line marker
Line arrows, cookies and sometimes clothes pegs. Used to indicate direction to exit, midway point between exits, jumps and personal markers to identify divers on a guide line.
line tender
see diver's attendant
line trap
Narrow gap where the guide line passes but divers can not get through.[6]
lipid pneumonia

A lung inflammation (pneumonia) that develops when lipids enter the bronchial tree


A large boat which provides transport, accommodation and services for vacationing divers

Diving from a boat which is under way (not moored). The major implication is that the engines will be running and propellers or thrusters may be engaged while divers are in the water, a significant hazard.
1.  Working diver leaving the closed bell into the water.
2.  (Lockout-tagout) Safety procedure when working on a hazardous energy source.[50]
Comparment of a hyperbaric habitat or chamber which can be entered through two or more openings which can be closed and sealed, and the pressure adjusted relative to the adjacent chambers. Used to transfer personnel or equipment between areas of different pressure.
log book
Record of dives kept as proof of experience. Optional for recreational divers, but legally required for professional divers in many jurisdictions.
long hose
5 ft to 7 ft interstage hose used on one of the regulators used by cave and other technical divers, which allows gas sharing through narrow spaces.
longshore current

Mass transport of water along a shoreline, generally due to wave action at an angle to the shoreline.


also breathing loop

The circuit in a rebreather through which the breathing gas passes during a breathing cycle.

loop volume
volume of the breathing loop of a rebreather.
lost buddy drill
standardised procedure followed when a diver realises that their buddy is not where they should be. Procedures may vary depending on the circumstances and training organisations.
lost line drill
Standardised procedure to be followed when the guideline to the surface is lost in a penetration dive, often in conditions of low visibility and darkness.
low pressure
LP compressor
Low pressure compressor. Used for breathing air supply for surface supplied air diving.
LP cylinder
Low pressure cylinder (US) with working pressure less thsn 2500psi.
LP port
Opening on the first stage of a regulator through which regulated gas is supplied.
Life support technician: A person who operates and maintains the life support systems of a saturation diving system.
lung packing

see glossopharangeal insufflation


mammalian diving reflex

also diving response

A reflex response to breathhold and chilling of the face diving response expressed by the cardiovascular system, which exhibits hypertension, bradycardia, oxygen conservation, arrhythmias, and contraction of the spleen.[32]


see twin cylinder manifold

manufacturing standard

also manufacturing code

Set of design and manufacturing rules intended to produce uniform and safe products by several manufacturers in an industry.

Marsh Marine connector
One of the popular underwater plug connector systems for diver communications cables.[51]
Martini's law
Rough rule of thumb for estimating nitrogen narcosis effects based on equivalence to consumption of dry martinis: Variously quoted as one martini per 10m or one martini per 50ft depth.
(Rigging) The large heavy duty link to which the legs of a chain sling are attached, and which is the attachment point on the sling for the lifting hook or shackle
maze cave
Cave structure characterised by multiple branches and changes in direction.
Manual Closed Circuit Rebreather: A closed cirduit rebreather which relies on the diver to control the gas mixture in the loop.
Microscopic bubbles which are not detectable by ultrasound or Doppler ultrasound, yet can affect the likelihood of DCS by slowing off-gassing.[5]
Microscopic cavities that function as bubble seeds by absorbing dissolved gas.[5]
medical lock
Small lock on a decompression chamber used for transfer of medical equipment and other supplies into and out of the chamber while the chamber remains under pressure.
Short for trimix breathing gas
mixed gas
Breathing gas for diving other than air, but usually implies a helium based mixture.
Maximum operating depth: Limiting depth for safety based on partial pressure of oxygen of a breathing gas mixture.
modified flutter kick
Version of the flutter kick finning style which reduces risk of silting by directing thrust more directly backwards. Two techniques exist: One version has the legs bent at the knees so that the fins are placed relatively high and on average are aligned more horizontally. The other version has one fin stationary below the moving fin to deflect downwash.[6] Leg movement is restrained, and ankle movement used for precision manoeuvring.
modified frog kick
Version of the frog kick finning style which reduces risk of silting by directing thrust more directly backwards. Performed with bent knees and fins raised above the line of the torso.
Mobile offshore drilling unit - a generic term for several classes of self-contained floatable or floating drilling rigs such as drilling vessels, semisubmersibles, submersibles, jack-ups, and similar facilities that can be moved without substantial effort. These facilities may have self-propulsion equipment on board and may require dynamic positioning equipment or mooring systems to maintain their position.[52]

A type of swimfin typically used in finswimming and free-diving. It consists of a single surface attached to footpockets for both of the diver's feet.

molecular sieve

Material containing tiny pores of a precise and uniform size that is used as an adsorbent for gases and liquids. Molecules small enough to pass through the pores are absorbed while larger molecules are not. It is different from a common filter in that it operates on a molecular level.

monkey diving

The use of sidemount configuration and procedures with a single cylinder.


An opening in the floor or base of the hull, platform, or chamber giving access to the water below.

metres sea water: Unit of pressure equal to 1/10 bar. Not a linear measure of depth.[53]
multilevel dive
A dive profile in which the diver remains in more than one distinct depth ranges for a significant period before beginning final ascent to the surface (excluding decompression stops).
A brown organic deposit usually found on the ceilings of caves which is easily dislodged by diver's exhaust bubbles and then drifts down through the water.
multiple stage compressor

Compressor in which gases are compressed more than once, often with cooling between stages. Used to improve efficiency and reduce temperatures.

mushroom valve
A rubber non-return valve flap which is circular or oval, with a stem in the middle to attach it to the holder in the centre of the grating over the orifice.

At a given ambient pressure, the M-value is the maximum theoretical value of absolute inert gas pressure that a tissue compartment can take without presenting symptoms of decompression sickness.


National Association for Cave Diving

see nitrogen narcosis

A US Navy trained combat diver.


No decompression limit. The maximum time which a diver can remain at a specified depth without incurring a stage decompression obligation in terms of the specified decompression tables or algorithm.

neck dam
The lower part of a lightweight diving helmet which includes a neoprene or latex neck seal to prevent ingress of water. The alternative is to clamp the helmet to the diver's drysuit.
Bungee loop attached to the secondary regulator second stage, worn around the neck to store the secondary close under the chin, where it is protected and the diver is immediately aware of a free-flow. With a little adjustment and practice it is possible to pick it up by head and mouth movement alone, not needing use of a hand. The bungee is attached to the second stage by a breakaway connection, often a close-fitting loop over the mouthpiece, so that it can be moved away from the diver's head in an emergency without disturbing the primary second stage or the mask.
US Navy Experimental Diving Unit
negative buoyancy

also just negative in context

Buoyancy less than weight. Insufficient upward force due to buoyancy to keep afloat or remain at constant depth

negative buoyancy entry
negatively buoyant entry
negative entry

Entry into the water after reducing buoyancy of BC and, if applicable, dry suit by venting to ensure that the diver will not float back to the surface, but will continue to descend


also neo-Haldanean

Decompression models based on later modifications of the principles described by John Scott Haldane.


Synthetic elastomer used in the form of foamed sheets as the material for most wetsuits and some drysuits.

neutral buoyancy

Having a fully immersed buoyancy exactly equal to weight, so that the forces are balanced and the person or object statically remains at a constant depth. Effectively average density is equal to that of the surrounding fluid medium. The state of neutral buoyancy is typically metastable for a compressible system.


An atmospheric diving suit designed and originally built by Phil Nuytten.

net cutter
A handle with a hooked blade used to cut netting or cordage to free the diver from entanglement
Non-freezing cold injuries: Permanent tissue damage due to low temperature exposure without any freezing damage.

Minor symptoms characteristic of mild decompression sickness.

night diving

Diving during the hours of darkness.

Nickel-metal hydride. A technology for rechargeable battery cells.

A synthetic elastomer used for most standard O-ring seals.


The major component gas of air and many breathing gas mixtures used in diving. Important in diving as an active agent in nitrogen narcosis and decompression sickness.

nitrogen narcosis

Also known as narcs, inert gas narcosis, raptures of the deep, Martini effect: A reversible alteration in consciousness that occurs while breathing gases containing nitrogen under elevated partial pressure similar to alcohol intoxication or nitrous oxide inhalation, and can occur during shallow dives, but usually does not become noticeable until greater depths, beyond 30 meters.


also Enriched Air Nitrox (EAN)

Mixture of nitrogen and oxygen for use as breathing gas. Usually with oxygen percentage higher than air.

nitrox stick

A mixing tube used to blend oxygen with air before compressing to make nitrox breathing gas.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (US)
nominal capacity
Volume of free gas contained by a scuba cylinder when filled to charging pressure at constant temperature.
No-mount diving

A specialized overhead-environment strategy for dealing with particularly tight restrictions which may involve divers wearing a very basic harness or simply hand-carrying cylinders.

1.  A breathing gas mixture with oxygen content approximating atmospheric air.
2.  A breathing gas for diving which contains sufficient oxygen to minimise risk of hypoxia at atmospheric pressure.
National Speleological Society

An oscillation of the eyes alternating a slow eye movement in one direction, and a fast eye movement in the other direction


octopus breathing
Sharing air using an octopus regulator
octopus regulator

also octo reg

A secondary demand valve fitted to a first stage diving regulator for use as an alternative air source for another diver in case of an emergency.


see outgassing

1.  A significant distance away from the shoreline.
2.  Outside the national maritime border, in international waters, though generally still inside the exclusive economic zone.[54]
offshore diver
Colloquial term for a diver who works in the offshore oil and gas industry.[3]
Method for installation of sub-sea pipeline for the oil and gas industry. The pipe is constructed in an onshore construction yard, moved into the water and bent into a spiral without causing plastic deformation of the material. When the pipeline is sufficiently long it is transported with the help of tugs to the installation area. At the installation area the pipeline is unwound and pulled over a simple lay barge with stinger and installed on the bottom.[55][self-published source?]

see ingassing


see inshore

open circuit
Breathing apparatus which discharges exhaled gas into the environment, without any further use.
Out of air: An emergency situation where the supply of breathing gas to the diver has stopped.
open water
1.  Water where there is no physical obstruction to a direct ascent to the surface.[56]
2.  Water which is open to influences by weather and climatic conditions.[57]
Over-pressure valve. A pressure relief valve which automatically opens at a set pressure to allow excess gas to escape.

A mechanical gasket in the shape of a torus; a loop of elastomer with a circular cross-section, designed to be seated in a groove and compressed during assembly between two or more parts, creating a seal at the contact surfaces.

oro-nasal mask
A breathing mask that covers the mouth and the nose only. It may occur independently, as an oxygen mask, or it may occur inside a full face diving mask or helmet to reduce the amount of dead space

Diffusion of gas out of the tissue into the blood, and transport to the lungs where it diffuses into the lung gas and is eliminated by exhalation.

A physical or procedural obstruction to a direct ascent to the surface. Physical overheads include cave, cavern or culvery ceilings, fishing nets, ship hulls, and wreckage. Procedural overheads are generally a decompression obligation.

see also diving heavy

Carrying more weight than is necessary to achieve neutral buoyancy at all times in a dive.


Important component gas of atmospheric air and essential component of any breathing gas. Required to sustain life.

oxygen analyzer

Instrument for measuring the partial pressure of oxygen in a gas mixture

oxygen clean
Cleaned for oxygen service by appropriate methods and materials and tested for contaminants.Verified that particulates, fibres, oils, greases and other contaminants are absent.[42]
oxygen clock

A notional alarm clock, which accumulates hyperbaric oxygen exposure at a rate which increases with higher ppO2 toward the maximum single exposure limit recommended

oxygen compatible
Made from materials which are suitable for oxygen service. Capable of coexisting with elevated oxygen concentrations and a potential source of ignition without flashing, based on a system’s maximum operating pressure and temperature.[42]
oxygen compatible air
Air which has been filtered to reduce contaminants to a level suitable for blending with high pressure oxygen. Air with a reduced level of condensable hydrocarbon mist or vapour.[42]
oxygen design
Design that minimizes any tendency for heat generation, ignition of particulates, or the accumulation of contaminants for an intended partial pressure of oxygen and temperature.[42]
oxygen fraction

Fraction by volume or pressure of the gas mixture made up by oxygen

Oxygen Pete
Mythical monster associated with CNS oxygen toxicity, also CNS oxygen toxicity seizure.
oxygen service
Suitable for operating with significantly higher levels of oxygen than normal atmospheric air. Often implies special cleaning procedures, use of oxygen compatible materials, and design to reduce ignition risk. System or component that has been designed and tested for oxygen use, has been tested as oxygen clean and is oxygen compatible.[42]
oxygen toxicity

A condition resulting from the harmful effects of breathing molecular oxygen (O2) at elevated partial pressures.

oxygen window

Inherent unsaturation due to metabolic reduction of total gas pressure in the tissues.



A sudden sensation of fear which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking, replacing it with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and frantic agitation consistent with an animalistic fight-or-flight reaction

parallel compartments

A decompression model comprising a group of tissues with varied rates of perfusion, but supplied by blood of approximately equivalent gas concentration. It is assumed that there is no gas transfer between tissue compartments by diffusion. This results in a parallel set of independent tissues, each with its own rate of ingassing and outgassing dependent on the rate of blood flowing through the tissue

partial pressure

(Abbreviation PP or pp) The pressure that a component gas of a gas mixture would exert if it alone was present in the volume occupied by the gas mixture.

passive addition

see also Rebreather#Passive addition semi-closed circuit

Feed gas addition system for semi-closed circuit rebreathers which discharges a part of the gas in the breathing circuit. fresh gas is added when the volume of the circuit decreases during inhalation and triggers the addition valve. Compare with active addition

pendulum rebreather
Also push-pull rebreather. Rebreather with a single breathing hose from the mouthpiece to the scrubber and counterlung. Gas passes through it in both directions, unlike the one-way breathing loop configuration. The volume of the hose between the mouthpiece and scrubber is dead space

Entering a region with no direct vertical access to the surface, such as a cave or the interior of a wreck.

penetration line

see distance line

Cave diving: Bubbles making their way to the walls and the ceiling of the cave and dislodging silt.[58]

The process of delivery of blood to a capillary bed in the biological tissue.[5]

perfusion limited

The assumption in a decompression model that perfusion has the dominant influence on gas uptake and release.

personal locator beacon

also PLB

Radio beacons for personal use which are intended to indicate a person in distress who is away from normal emergency services.

personal safety equipment

Equipment worn by personnel to reduce risk of injury at sites where it is not practicable to eliminate the hazard, including ear protectors, safety glasses, hard hats, gloves, overalls, respirators etc.

patent foramen ovale: A form of congenital heart defect that enables blood flow between the left and right atria through a gap in the interatrial septum.
photo quadrat

see also jump camera

A photograph of a quadrat taken for later analysis. Common in marine ecological research where in situ counting would be impractical. Quadrats may be identified by rigid frames or by a fixed camera to subject distance.


Pipeline inspection gauge: A tool that is sent through a pipeline and propelled by the pressure of the product in the pipeline itself.

Coiled section of pipe to provide greater flexibility.
pillar valve

see cylinder valve

pin index connection

Standard connection type for portable medical oxygen cylinder valves and regulators.

Securing the guideline as it is being run and the choice of primary and secondary tie offs.[6]

see personal locator beacon

Pipeline end manifold:. Point where flexible underwater hose string is attached to connect seabed pipeline with Single point mooring.[3]
pneumo breathing
Use of the pneumofathometer hose to supply breathing gas to a surface supplied diver in an emergency. Supply can be from the diver's own pneumo hose or from a standby diver's pneumo hose.

also pneumo

Instrument to measure depth of a diver using a gauge calibrated in msw, fsw, or often both, to measure the ambient pressure at the diver by measuring the pressure in a hose filled with air with an open end at the diver.


Air or other breathing gas in the chest cavity, often resulting in a collapsed lung.

positive displacement
(of compressor) Compresses gas by reducing volume of compression chamber (cylinder) by mechanical means (piston) to produce higher pressure of the contents.
pony cylinder

Relatively small scuba set carried as an independent alternative breathing gas source by a scuba diver.

A large bore quick connector fitting designed and used by Draeger on diving and firefighting breathing apparatus, which has been used in rebreathers, particularly modifications.
pre-fill external inspection
Examination of the external condition of a pressure vessel and fittings to ensure that it complies with requirements before accepting for filling.[20]
Nitrox blend with high oxygen content used to mix nitrox by topping up the decanted premix with air.
pressure gradient
The rate of change of partial pressure of dissolved gas through a solvent, which is the driving mechanism for diffusion through the solvent. Also loosely used to refer to the difference between the dissolved gas pressure in a tissue and ambient pressure.[5]
primary light
The main light to be used on a dive. Usually the most powerful.
primary regulator
the regulator which the diver intends to breathe from for most of the dive. Particularly when diving with back-mounted manifolded twin cylinders.
primary tie-off
First tie off of the guideline in a penetration dive. This is usually made in a place with free vertical access to the surface.
professional diving

Diving which is done as part of the diver's employment or professional occupation.

progressive penetration
An incremental approach to cave and wreck exploration. Each dive goes a bit further so that the divers develop a familiarity with the environment.[6]
Pressure relief valve
Pounds per square inch. Unit of pressure in the Imperial system.
Push to talk: Voice communication systems which require the user to press a button to transmit. Used with through water systems to conserve battery power.
public safety diving
The underwater work conducted by law enforcement, fire department rescue, and search & rescue/recovery dive teams.
A relatively long pull on a lifeline when used for rope signals. (see "bell" for comparison).
Part of an ascent between the bottom and a decompression stop, between decompression stops, or to the surface. Possibly deriving from the practice of pulling a surface supplied diver up by the umbilical or lifeline.
pulmonary over-inflation syndrome

Pulmonary barotrauma of ascent. Lung over-pressure injury.

To press the purge button on a demand valve to induce a gas flow which is intended to clear the demand valve interior of water or other substances.
purge button
Button or flexible area on the front or side of a demand valve which allows the user to manually open the second stage valve to provide gas flow without inhalation.
purge valve
Valve in snorkel or mask which allows water to drain either under gravity or as a result of exhalation into the air space
push gradient
Tech diving jargon: Decompress at a high gradient factor, particularly when exceeding the baseline M-value.[59]
push-pull rebreather

see pendulum rebreather


also Pee-valve

A valved catheter fitted to a dry suit, which enables a diver to urinate at any time without having to get out of the water.

Pyle stops

Named after Richard Pyle, an early advocate of deep stops. An additional brief deep decompression stop, typically 2 minutes long and half way between the maximum depth and the first conventional decompression stop.


Oval connector shaped like a chain link with a screw gate on one side.
A group of high pressure gas storage cylinders mounted upright on a frame and manifolded together. Usually in 4, 6, 9, 12, or 16 cylinder arrangements.

see also photo quadrat

A small, typically rectangular plot used in ecology and geography to isolate a standard unit of area for study of the distribution of an item over a large area. The quadrat is suitable for sampling plants and slow-moving or sessile animals.


rams head
Also cobra guard. Frame attached to the top of the cylinders to protect valves, manifold, and regulator first stages from impact with the surroundings.
rapture of the deep

see nitrogen narcosis

rash vest
Also known as rash guard, or rashie, A shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester to protect against rashes caused by abrasion. These shirts can be worn by themselves, in tropical water, or under a wetsuit.
Rat hat
Ratcliffe diving helmet, Designed by Bob Ratcliffe, later produced by Oceaneering International. No longer in production.[60]
ratio decompression

also ratio deco

A technique for calculating decompression schedules for scuba divers engaged in deep diving without using dive tables, decompression software or a dive computer.[61][62]


Breathing apparatus which recycles most of the exhaled gas, removing carbon dioxide and topping up oxygen before the gas is breathed again.

reciprocating compressor

Compressor in which the volume of the compression chamber/s is cyclically changed by reversing linear motion. E.g.: a piston moving back and forth in a cylinder.

reclaim helmet

Diving helmet with a reclaim gas regulator allowing exhaled gas to be safely returned to the surface through an additional hose on the umbilical.

reclaim system

System for recovering helium based breathing gas used by divers and recycling it.

Subjecting a diver to pressure after an ascent from a dive as treatment for decompression illness or to prevent decompression sickness.[15] Preferably done in a recompression chamber, but occasionally done as in-water recompression.
recompression chamber

A hyperbaric chamber used to treat divers suffering from certain diving disorders such as decompression sickness.

recovery breathing

see hook breathing

recreational diving

Recreational diving or sport diving is a type of diving that uses scuba equipment for the purpose of leisure and enjoyment. In some diving circles, the term "recreational diving" is used in contradistinction to "technical diving", a more demanding aspect of the sport which requires greater levels of training, experience and equipment. In other circles, technical diving is considered a subset of recreational diving as opposed to professional diving, which is done as part of the diver's work.

Recreational Dive Planner

also RDP

A no-stop decompression table developed by DSAT.

Technical diving philosophy of ensuring that a spare or backup is available for any item of life-support equipment that would immediately endanger the diver if it were to fail.[63]
redundant equipment
duplicated or spare equipment carried by the diver or team to substitute for vital primary equipment in case of a malfunction. In some cases, such as cave lights, multiple redundancy may be desirable. A redundant breathing gas supply is the most common example.
red tide

see algal bloom

Mechanism used to store, deploy and recover long lengths of line.
1.  A mechanism for controlling the output pressure of a high pressure gas supply.
2.  As 1, with a demand valve (q.v.) incorporated which provides the diver with breathing gas at ambient pressure.
regulator freeze

Locking of the regulator mechanism caused by freezing of the water due to expansion cooling of the regulated air. Often causes the mechanism to lock open, causing free flow and further cooling.

reject criteria
Features, states or conditions which are not acceptable.[20]
repetitive dives

Any dive which is done while the tissues retain residual inert gas from a previous dive.

Method of estimating tolerable repetitive exposure to high partial pressure oxygen.[64]
reserve gas

Gas which is not intended to be used during the dive, and is reserved for contingencies.

reserve valve
Cylinder valve with a lever operated bypass valve to release the gas below reserve pressure
residual gas
Gas remaining in a cylinder from the previous fill.
residual nitrogen

Nitrogen in excess of normal atmospheric saturation remaining in the diver's tissues after a dive.

residual nitrogen time

also RNT

Time penalty in a repetitive dive equivalent to time at depth which would produce the residual nitrogen in the diver at the start of the dive.

residual pressure
Pressure of the gas remaining in a cylinder from the previous fill.
Pressure of gas remaining in a partly used cylinder.
respiratory quotient

The ratio of carbon dioxide produced as a metabolic product to the oxygen consumed.

Section of a cave which is difficult to pass through due to lack of space. A minor restriction is too small for two divers to swim through together, a major restriction requires the diver to remove equipment to fit through.
reverse jump
Procedure to cross a gap during an exit which allows the line to be retrieved without returning to the start point. In the event of a line break or removed primary reel, one diver holds the end of the search line at the break point, and the other searches for the other part of the broken line or the exit while laying line from the reel. When the original line or exit is found, the reel handler signals to the static diver with line pulls and the static diver swims in the direction of the line while the reel handler reels it in, recovering the line.[65]
reverse profile
Repetitive dive which is deeper than the previous dive
Multilevel dive in which a later level is deeper than an earlier level.

also reduced gradient bubble model

A bubble model decompression algorithm developed by Bruce Wienke.

Rimbach system
System of touch contact signalling. Push forward = go, pull back = back up, squeeze = stop.[6]
ring bungee

see also bungee (sidemount)

Length of shock cord with metal rings and a clip used to control the position of the top end of a sidemounted cylinder.[16] Differs from a regular bungee in having the rings.[16] A popular configuration is a bolt snap connected to a ring by a quick link, with a length of bungee from the ring to another quick link which is used to connect the assembly to a D-ring on the back of the harness. The bolt snap is clipped to the shoulder D-ring and the cylinder neck bolt snap is clipped to the ring.

rip current

A strong localised flow of water to seaward from near the shore, typically through the surf line


A conduit that provides a temporary extension of a subsea oil well to a surface drilling facility

Respiratory minute volume: (or minute ventilation) The volume of gas inhaled (inhaled minute volume) or exhaled (exhaled minute volume) from a person's lungs in one minute.
Royal Navy Physiological Laboratory

see residual nitrogen time

rock bottom gas management

see also Scuba gas planning

Retention of a breathing gas reserve based on calculated values for the amount of gas required for a safe ascent from any point in the planned dive profile. Factors such as emergency supply of gas to a buddy, air consumption rates under stress and decompression gas requirements are considered in the calculations.

Closing of a cylinder valve as a result of scraping contact between the valve knob and the overhead or other surroundings. The left hand knob is more likely to roll-off, closing the backup regulator in the standard twins configuration.[65]
Remotely operated underwater vehicle.
Member of the drilling crew who works under the direction of the driller to make or break connections as drillpipe is tripped in or out of the hole.[3]
Any unskilled manual laborer on the rigsite.[3]
rule of thirds

Cave and wreck penetration breathing gas management convention where no more than one third of the gas in a cylinder may be used on the inward part of the dive, and the other two thirds is kept for exit: One third for the planned exit, and one third in case of an emergency.

run time
Time elapsed since the start of a dive.
running stop
A pause made during ascent to adjust the average ascent rate to the nominal value. For example a nominal ascent rate of 3 m per minute might use an actual ascent rate of about 5 m per minute and make a stop every 3m until the end of the current minute, resulting in a slightly stepped profile with an overall ascent rate corresponding to the nominal rate.[61]
run time schedule
Decompression schedule and dive plan based on elapsed time from the start of the dive, All waypoints and events are specified in terms of elapsed time with start of descent at zero.

also: Positive reserve valve, automatic valve, or calibrated orifice

A cylinder valve which limits the outflow by a calibrated orifice when in the "on" position.[49]


SAC rate
Surface Air Consumption rate: A measure of air consumption in units of pressure over time, usually psi/minute, adjusted to surface pressure, used to estimate air endurance of a cylinder of specific size. Useful for those who work in imperial units.[66] SAC has a constant value for a given diver and represents gas used on the surface at rest.[29] Surface Gas Consumption (SGC) is an alternative term referring to alternative breathing gas mixtures. Occasionally also termed Surface Consumption Rate (SCR)[67][68]
safe air
Term used for nitrox by ANDI (American Nitrox Divers International)
safe second
Obsolete term for backup regulator.[65]
safety reel
Reel for use in an emergency, usually for searches to find lost buddy or lost guideline or to jump a line break. Relatively short line.[65]
safety stop

A voluntary (not required by the decompression schedule) additional decompression stop intended to reduce risk of decompression sickness.

salt water aspiration syndrome

A reaction of the lungs to inhalation of a mist of salt water

Contractions experienced by breathhold divers when approaching hypoxic blackout.[69]
Condition where the inert components of the breathing gas dissolved in a diver's tissues is in equilibrium with the gas in the lungs.[15]
saturation diving

Diving procedure where the divers remain pressurised for periods of several days or weeks and decompress only at the end of the period.

saturation spread
Saturation diving system.
Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (not for underwater use).
schrader valve

Valve using a standard automotive tyre valve insert, common in low pressure inflation hose female connectors and BC inflation valves.[65]

scientific diving
Diving for purposes of scientific research. The rules and constraints of scientific diving vary in different jurisdictions, but generally allow more options than mainstream commercial diving.
Diver propulsion vehicle used by scuba divers to increase range underwater.[65]
scooter ring
D-ring on scuba harness used to attach to scooter tow line. Usually on front of the harness crotch strap.[65]
Semi-closed circuit rebreather: A rebreather (q.v.) which either dumps part of each breath to the environment or continuously adds gas and dumps the excess. Compare with closed circuit rebreather (CCR) (q.v.).
Surface Consumption Rate - An alternative term with the same meaning as Surface Air Consumption (SAC) (q.v.). Not to be confused with Semi-closed Circuit Rebreather.
screw gate carabiner

A clip mechanism which can be locked in the closed position by turning a threaded barrel.


Canister containing material (sorb) which chemically combines with carbon dioxide to remove it from the gas passed through the canister.


also SCUBA

Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. May be open or closed circuit.

scuba orienteering

Competitive underwater sport in which scuba divers attempt to swim a circuit marked by buoys, without surfacing, using compass navigation and mechanical distance measurement. Points are awarded for time and accuracy according to the specific course definition and length.

scuba replacement
Surface supplied diving equipment using portable gas storage cylinders for primary and reserve breathing gas supply. Preferred to scuba for commercial diving applications due to lower perceived risk compared to scuba, and because equipment and procedures are otherwise identical to surface supplied diving using compressors for air supply. Used when logistical constraints or air quality issues preclude use of a compressor.
Safety drill. An air sharing exercise based on deploying the long hose primary regulator.
search line

Cord used to indicate the transect for a search. The diver moves along the line, searching by sight or feel on one or both sides of the line. After the transect has been searched, the line is moved to the next transect. usually a short distance offset from the previous position, at a distance which depends on the visibility and the size of the target.

search pattern

Systematic procedure for covering the search area sufficiently to be reasonably sure of finding a given target. Several patterns are in general use for underwater searches, depending on the target, the terrain, and available facilities.

secondary drowning

A complication of aspiration of water or other fluids into the lungs.

second stage

see demand valve

The part of a diving regulator which provides pressure reduction from intermediate pressure to ambient pressure on demand. Demand valve.

semi-dry suit

A wet suit with wrist and ankle seals, and usually a more watertight zipper than usual, to reduce flushing of water through the suit.


Device which facilitates the separation of liquid particles from the compressed gas, usually with a drain to periodically remove accumulated liquid from the system.

serial compartments

A decompression model based on the assumption that diffusion is the limiting mechanism of dissolved gas transport in the tissues, in which there is perfusion transport for one compartment, and diffusion between a series of compartments,

serial number
1.  Number stamped on the cylinder by the manufacturer in the shoulder area which identifies the cylinder. In combination with the manufacturer’s identification this will be unique to the cylinder.[20]
2.  Character string, including number, marked on an item of equipment by the manufacturer to uniquely identify it.


Surface Gas Consumption

shallow water blackout
Loss of consciousness during a dive associated with occurrence at a shallow depth. Used for several different mechanisms, depending on context, therefore often leading to confusion.
1.  see also Freediving blackout#Shallow water blackout
Loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia towards the end of a breath-hold dive in water typically shallower than five metres (16 feet), when the swimmer does not necessarily experience an urgent need to breathe and has no other obvious medical condition that might have caused it.[44]
2.  see also Freediving blackout#Terminology and latent hypoxia
Loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia at the end of a deep breath-hold dive during the latter part of the ascent or immediately after surfacing due to lowered pO2 caused by reduction in ambient pressure, see also latent hypoxia.
3.  Loss of consciousness while ascending on a rebreather due to sudden drop of pO2 in the breathing loop, usually associated with manual CCR and SCR.
shark pod

also: shark shield

Electrical device carried by a diver intended to repel sharks by electrical field pulses.[70]

shock cord

see bungee cord

shore diving
Diving from a shore entry.
shot line

A rope between a float at the surface, and a sufficiently heavy weight holding the rope approximately vertical.[71]


A scuba diving equipment configuration which has diving cylinders mounted alongside the diver, below the shoulders and along the hips, instead of on the back of the diver.

sidemount staging

The practice of using sidemount configuration (bungee loops and/or buttplate rails) as a means for stowing stage/deco cylinders when otherwise diving in back-mounted scuba

silent entry
An entry technique which minimises noise and splash, suitable for entry from a low platform. The diver sits with feet dangling over or into the water, turns the torso sideways, and takes his weight on his hands, then swings off the surface and drops feet first into the water, slowed by the arms, and lets go with the hands when in the water.[72]:251
silica gel

A desiccant filter medium used to adsorb water.


A situation when underwater visibility is rapidly reduced to zero, usually when a diver disturbs silt deposits.

silt screw
Device which is inserted into silt or sand to provide an anchor point, such as for a tie-off on a cave line.[16] Silt screws are generally stakes made from small bore plastic (PVC) pipe with a sharpened end.
single point mooring

A loading buoy anchored offshore, that serves as a mooring point and interconnect for tankers loading or offloading gas or liquid products. SPMs are the link between geostatic subsea manifold connections and weathervaning tankers. They are capable of handling any size ship, even very large crude carriers (VLCC) where no alternative facility is available[3]


A natural depression or hole in the Earth's surface caused by karst processes — the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks - or suffosion processes for example in sandstone


Particulate or granular material bonded together by the application of pressure and sufficient heat to partially melt the surface of the particles and weld them together. The product is usually porous.

Place where water from a stream flows into the ground. also "swallow hole"[6]

A flat stone, usually of marble or granite, weighing between 8 and 14 kg, with rounded corners and edges, and tied to a rope, historically used by Greek sponge free-divers to assist descent. when the diver wishes to ascend the rope is used to signal the tender on the boat who then pulls in the rope. Currently a competitive sport.


also skins, or dive skins

A lycra suit worn by a diver in warm water or under a wet suit.

skip breathing
Breathing pattern where the diver holds each breath a while to conserve breathing gas. Can cause CO2 buildup which can lead to headaches, and reduces physiological reserves in case of an emergency.
Method of laying undersea pipelines by welding the sections together on the lay barge and deploying them from the stern horizontally guided by a "stinger" - a structure that supports the pipe string to control its bend radius.[73]
Rigid plastic tablet used for writing messages or notes.
sling cylinder

Independent cylinders with their own regulators carried clipped to the harness at the side of the diver.

slingshot valve

see Y-valve

A cylinder valve with two valved outlets angled to left and right of the centreline

slob knob
Flexible extension used for operating valve knobs on a manifold
Surface marker buoy.
snag line
Line used for underwater search intended to snag on the target. May be dragged by boats or by divers. May be weighted if dragged over a smooth bottom.
snap shackle

A clip connector mechanism which locks when closed, can be operated without tools, and can usually be released under load.

snoopy loop

A heavy duty elastic band made from a slice of inner tube.


Tube with a bend and mouthpiece used for breathing air from above the water surface when the wearer's mouth and nose are submerged.


also snorkelling

Swimming at the surface of the water while breathing through a snorkel. the snorkeller is almost always equipped with a diving mask or swim goggles, and usually swimfins.

snorkel keeper
Device to hold a snorkel in place at the side of a diving mask by fixing it to the mask strap

Snuba is portmanteau of "snorkel" and "scuba" referring to a proprietary recreational surface supplied underwater breathing system supplied from a cylinder mounted on a small raft towed by the diver. see also Hookah.

solo diving

The practice of scuba diving alone, (without a "dive buddy/in-water standby diver").

sonic orifice

Metering device to provide constant mass flow of a gas.


also sodasorb, sodalime and sofnolime

Carbon dioxide absorbent material used in rebreather or life support system scrubber to remove carbon dioxide from the breathing gas so it may be recycled.

Hunting weapon for shooting fish underwater which propels a barbed steel spear a short distance forward using stored energy from stretched rubber strips or compressed air behind a captive piston.
Slang term for breathhold spearfisher.

Dissolution features in bedrock.


Also known as a cave formation: A secondary mineral deposit formed in a cave.

submersible pressure gauge
Self-propelled hyperbaric lifeboat
Mask strap system for full-face masks with three or more straps. (commonly 5)

see single point mooring

1.  Circular device for storing line, comprising a short tubular section with a large flange at each end. No moving parts, small, compact, economical and reliable alternative to a reel for relatively short lines.
2.  Short, straight section of pipe or tube with a flange at each end.
Place where a concentrated flow of water emerges from the ground.
spring strap
Fin strap using a stainless steel spring to secure the fin to the foot.
spring suit
A wetsuit that covers the torso and has short sleeves and long or short legs
spud can
The foot on a leg of a Jack-up type oil platform designed to spread the load so that the rig does not sink too deeply into the sea-bed.[3]
South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society
square profile
Dive profile where the diver descends continuously to the maximum depth and stays there for the duration of the dive before ascending directly at a stedy rate to the surface or first decompression stop. This profile provides worst case exposure for gas absorption by the body tissues for a given depth and time, and is assumed for decompression planning using decompression tables.

see barotrauma

Injury or discomfort caused by increase or decrease in volume of gas space in the diver's body or equipment due to a change in ambient pressure.

Surface Supply Diving Equipment.

see diving stage

stage cylinder
1.  A cylinder used for a stage of a long penetration dive, also known as drop cylinder, which is placed on the distance line to be collected on the return.
2.  Also generically used to refer to decompression gas cylinders carried as sling cylinders (q.v.).
staged decompression
The practice of making decompression stops.
stage-only diving

The use of standard deco/stage cylinder configuration, without back-mounted cylinders, on an otherwise standard, or partially modified tec/rec BCD. The cylinders are attached to waist and shoulder D-Rings by direct bolt-snap, and no bungee cord is used in the upper attachment. May be confused with sidemount

standard diving dress

also standard dress,Copper helmet or Heavy gear

Early free flow surface supplied diving equipment using a heavy canvas suit, copper helmet and corselet, and weighted boots. Still in use in some parts of the world.[15]

standard operating procedure
Procedure compiled by an organisation prescribing the processes to be followed when performing specified tasks.
stand-by diver
Diver functioning as a safety backup to the working diver. Often on the surface at the dive control point, but ready to enter the water at very short notice on the instruction of the supervisor.
static apnea
static apnoea

Underwater breath-holding without changing location

A full one piece wetsuit that covers the torso and the full length of the arms and legs.
An overboard extension at the stern of an offshore pipe lay barge used to provide additional support at the over bend of an S-lay during offshore construction.[73]


see decompression stop

storage depth

also living depth

Depth pressure in a saturation system at which divers live between compression and decompression[53]

stride entry

also giant stride entry

Entry technique from a platform a small to moderate distance above the water surface, which is suitable to stand on before entry. The diver faces the water and steps out with the leading foot, pushing away from the platform with the back foot, and drops into the water while maintaining a vertical posture until fully submerged. It is usually advisable to hold loose equipment against the body, particularly the mask and DV, and if there is no crotch strap, the buoyancy compensator is held to prevent it riding up the torso on impact. The feet can be brought together after initial impact to limit depth of immersion in moderately shallow water, by applying fin thrust downwards.[14]

Derogatory term used by DIR zealots to describe divers who do not follow DIR procedures and use DIR approved equipment and configurations.
subcutaneous emphysema
Gas under the skin resulting from lung overpressure injury.[9]
submersible compression chamber

see closed bell[15]

submersible pressure gauge

also SPG

Gauge attached to the first stage regulator and used to monitor pressure remaining in the diving cylinder.

suicide clip
Derogatory term for clip mechanisms which are capable of clipping onto a line or other object without the active and intentional intervention of a user.
suit blowup
excessive inflation of a dry suit leading to uncontrolled ascent.

A passage in a cave that is submerged under water.

sump pack
Tough waterproof bag with watertight seal used to carry dry equipment in caves, including through water filled passages.[16]
superoxide scrubber
Rebreather scrubber which not only removes carbon dioxide from the exhaled air, but also replenishes the oxygen by chemical reaction.
A temporary and thermodynamically unstable condition of a solvent containing more dissolved gas than it can hold in solution over the long term for the prevailing conditions.
supersaturation limit
The theoretical pressure ratio between tissue gas concentration and ambient pressure above which the probability of bubble formation is unacceptably high.[5]
Supervised Diver
EN 14153-1 / ISO 24801-1 standard competence for recreational scuba diver. The level 1 "Supervised Diver" has sufficient knowledge, skill and experience to dive, in open water, to a recommended maximum depth of 12 m, which do not require in-water decompression stops, under the direct supervision of a dive leader, in groups of up to four level 1 scuba divers per dive leader provided the dive leader is capable of establishing physical contact with all level 1 scuba divers at any point during the dive, only when appropriate support is available at the surface, and under conditions that are equal or better than the conditions where they were trained.[74]

see diving supervisor

supply lock
Small lock on a saturation life support habitat for transfer of relatively small items.

see surface decompression

Southern Underwater Research Group. An organisation based in Cape Town, which publishes marine ecology field guides, dive travel guides and underwater maps.[75]

The mass or line of broken water formed by waves breaking on a shore or reef

surface compression chamber
A hyperbaric chamber for surface use for routine decompression or therapeutic recompression.[15]
surface decompression

A procedure in which some or all of the staged decompression obligation is done in a decompression chamber immediately after surfacing instead of in the water.

surface detection aids
Equipment, such as flags, surface marker buoys, flares, EPIRBs, mirrors, and whistles, carried by divers to maintain contact with dive boats or attract rescue when lost at sea.
surface equivalent volume
Gas volume adjusted to surface pressure. See also free gas volume
surface interval

The time spent by a diver at surface pressure after a dive during which inert gas which was still present at the end of the dive is further eliminated from the tissues.

surface marker buoy

also SMB

A buoy towed by a diver to indicate location to people at the surface.

surface orientated diving
Any diving operation in which the diver is decompressed to surface pressure after the dive. Opposite to saturation diving.[15]

Reciprocating water movement parallel to the bottom surface caused by the passing of a wave overhead

sustained load cracking

The development of cracks in a material subjected over long term to static stress significantly less than the yield stress. There is a low but significant risk of this mode of failure in pressure vessels of AA6351 aluminium alloy.[76]


A series of surface gravity waves that is not generated by the local wind.

swim line
Line used to space divers across the search area for a swim line search. Each diver holds the line at a distance from the previous diver of somewahat less than twuce the visibility distance. The line is used to keep the divers spaced evenly across the search area while swimming perpendicular to the line.



A form of decompression sickness found among Polynesian island natives who habitually do multiple repetitive deep breath-hold dives.

task loading

A multiplicity of responsibilities leading to an increased risk of failure on the part of the diver to undertake some key basic function which would normally be routine for safety

taut wire system
A constant tension wire from a vessel to a weight on the seabed used as a reference to detect movement of a dynamically positioned vessel from the reference point.[3]
technical diving

An extension of the scope of recreational scuba diving to applications with greater technical complexity and higher inherent risk. Definitions vary, but diving with multiple breathing gases, helium based gases, closed circuit rebreathers, or under extensive overheads are generally considered as technical diving. There is no sharp distinction from other forms of recreational diving.

tech ring
D-ring welded to a belt slide so that it can not fold down against the webbing. Intended to make it easier to fit and remove snaps.[6]
tension leg rig

A vertically moored floating structure normally used for the offshore production of oil or gas, particularly suited for water depths between 300 and 1500 meters. The platform is permanently moored by means of tethers at each of the structure's corners and virtually all vertical motion of the platform is eliminated.

test pressure
Pressure at which the cylinder will be hydrostatically tested for revalidation. Usually 1.5 or 1.67 x working pressure.[20]
tethered ascent

Ascent controlled by a line from the diver to a fixed point at the bottom. This may be used to control depth and rate of ascent when the diver has inadvertently lost complete control of buoyancy due to loss of ballast weight, so cannot attain neutral buoyancy at some point during the ascent, and needs to do decompression. CMAS require this skill for their Self-Rescue Diver certification.[77]

tethered diving
Diving with a lifeline between the diver and a surface tender.
Thalmann algorithm

The Exponential/linear decompression algorithm used in the 2008 US Navy decompression tables

therapeutic recompression

A procedure for treating decompression sickness by recompressing the diver, thus reducing bubble size, and allowing the gas bubbles to re-dissolve, then decompressing slowly enough to avoid further formation or growth of bubbles, or eliminating the inert gases by breathing oxygen under pressure

therapeutic schedule
Procedure for hyperbaric treatment involving recompression to relieve symptoms, followed by decompression at a rate unlikely to cause a relapse. Use of special breathing gas, particularly oxygen, to increase the rate of elimination of inert gases is common.[15]

A thin but distinct layer in a large body of fluid, in which temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above or below

thermodynamic decompression model

Hypothesis that bubble formation during decompression will not occur provided absolute ambient pressure exceeds the total of the partial gas tensions in the tissue for each gas.


see rule of thirds

three part shackle
also bolt and nut shackle, bolt shackle. A shackle which uses a bolt as the pin, secured with a nut. The nut may be locked with a split pin for greater security. The bolt may rotate in the shackle under load without great risk of unscrewing the pin
through-water communications
Wireless voice communications transmitted through the water
thumb the dive
Terminate the dive by signalling exit to surface at a time or place other than the planned turning point.[6]
Friction initiated noisy but relatively harmless pyrotechnic device designed for military exercises, with civilian use for diver recall.[78][79]
time to fly
The surface interval necessary after diving to reduce tissue gas concentrations to a level where the risk of decompression sickness due to the pressure reduction experienced in normal commercial airliners is acceptable.[9]

The perception of sound within the human ear in the absence of corresponding external sound

tissue compartments

Imaginary tissues which are designated as fast and slow to describe the rate of saturation.

tissue half times

The time it takes for the tissue to take up or release 50% of the difference in dissolved gas capacity at a changed partial pressure.

1.  Total Nitrogen Time: Equivalent time of hyperbaric exposure for a repetitive dive used with some decompression tables.
2.  Trinitrotoluene, a high explosive
top up
To reconnect a partially filled cylinder and add gas until the pressure is within tolerance of the required charging pressure when corrected for temperature.
touch contact signals

see Rimbach system

Toynbee manouevre

Method of equalising the middle ears by pinching the nose and swallowing.

trait anxiety

A tendency to respond with anxiety in the anticipation of threatening situations.


A path along which one counts and records occurrences of the phenomena of study.


also decant

Fill cylinder with gas by transfer from a cylinder with higher pressure.

transfill whip
High pressure hose and end fittings used to decant between cylinders. Usually includes purge valve and may include pressure gauge.
trauma shears

also bandage scissors or paramedic shears

Blunt tipped slightly serrated shears with angled blades sometimes used by divers as a safety cutting implement in place of a knife or line cutter.

travel gas
Gas mixture used for descent and ascent when the bottom gas is not suitable for breathing at shallower depths.
Pass through a cave by entering at one point and exiting at another.[6]

A pipe, through which concrete is placed below water level. The top of the tremie is above water and open, and the bottom end is kept below the surface of the poured concrete.

triangular profile
A triangular dive profile is one in which, after a descent at constant rate, and a short bottom time at maximum depth, the diver maintains a constant, slow ascent to the surface or first decompression stop. A plot of depth against elapsed time takes a triangular shape.

see belt slide

Material used for dry suit shells made of a layer of waterproof rubber laminated between two layers of woven textile.

Mixture of three gases for breathing. Oxygen, nitrogen and helium are the gases used.[42] The gas fractions will usually be specified.

trim weight

Ballast weight placed to improve a diver's trim.

A seamless transportable compressed gas container, with a water capacity exceeding 150 litres (5.3 cu ft) but not more than 3,000 litres (110 cu ft);[20] Often mounted horizontally in manifolded groups on a trailer or intermodal container frame.
Transfer Under Pressure: Transfer of personnel between hyperbaric environments, usually between a closed bell and a saturation system, or between a portable recompression chamber and a multi-occupant chamber

The cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by individual particles (suspended solids) that may be invisible to the naked eye, similar to smoke in air

turn the dive
Start the return on a dive which has reached the planned turning point in terms of depth, time, gas supply or distance.[6]
twilight zone
Deeper than 60m in the sea, or the part of a cave or cavern that has dim but discernible ambient light.
type 1 wet bell

Wet diving bell (q.v.) with no direct supply of gas and services to the bell. Diver umbilicals lead directly to the surface control point.

type 2 wet bell

Wet diving bell (q.v.) with umbilical supply of gas and other services to the bell, from which they are distributed to the divers umbilicals from a control panel in the bell.


Underwater Breathing Apparatus: Equipment used to supply breathing gas to an underwater diver. Usually refers to the part of the system carried underwater by the diver.
UDT vest
Underwater Demolition Team vest, An inflatable surface life-jacket worn by underwater demolition teams. Similar in style and a precursor to the horse-collar style buoyancy compensator.
Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society

Life support connection to a surface supplied diver or diving bell. Comprises gas supply hoses, a strength member and communications cable, and may also include gas reclaim hose, hot water hose and hoses for hydraulic or pneumatic power, and electrical and optical cables for ancillary equipment. Also refers to the power, control and instrument cable for a ROV.


A subsurface flow of water returning seaward from shore as result of wave action

underwater blackout syndrome

also hyperventilation-induced blackout

Loss of consciousness due to hypoxia during a breath-hold submersion preceded by hyperventilation where alternative causes of blackout have been excluded.[80][81]


also Jersey upline

A fairly substantial natural fibre rope which is deployed from the bottom using a small lift bag to provide the equivalent of a shotline. The lower end is tied off to the bottom, usually on a wreck, and the diver ascends on the line to avoid being swept away from the site by currents. After reaching the surface, the last diver cuts the line and it sinks back down, Natural fibre is used so the line rots away over a few years.[82]

Against the flow.
upstream valve

Valve, (usually regulator first stage or demand valve), where the valve mechanism moves against the flow when opening, and the pressure difference over the valve tends to close it.


An oceanographic phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of dense, cooler, and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water


Valsalva maneuver

Technique for equalising the middle ear by moderately forceful attempted exhalation against a closed mouth and blocked nose

valve cage
structure or frame fitted to scuba cylinder to protect the cylinder valve or manifold and regulator first stage from impact damage and roll-off.
valve drill
Safety exercise in which the diver shuts down, tests regulators and re-opens the manifold valves on a twin set in a specific order.
valve guard
protective structure or frame fitted to the top of a bulk storage cylinder to protect the cylinder valve from mechanical damage.[20]
Van der Waals equation

Thermodynamic equation of state for a real (non-ideal) gas.


The narrowing of blood vessels resulting from contraction of the muscular wall of the vessels, particularly the large arteries and small arterioles.


The widening of blood vessels resulting from relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessel walls, particularly in the large veins, large arteries, and smaller arterioles.

vertical entry
vertical drop entry
An entry technique for relatively high drops, up to and sometimes exceeding 3m. The feet are overlapped and the legs kept straight. The body is and head are kept vertical and the mask and DV held against the face with one or both hands, elbows tucked in. The intention is to hit the water vertically, with the least likelihood of knocking off or damaging vital equipment.[72]:249

A type of dizziness, where there is a feeling of motion when one is stationary.


see also Decompression (diving)#Bubble formation, growth and elimination

Venous gas emboli

1.  Glass or plastic window on a diving helmet or full face mask.
2.  Window on a hyperbaric chamber.
Visual Inspection Programme (US). Annual visual internal inspection of a scuba cylinder.
visual gap
Gap between guidelines which is small enough that each line can be seen from the other.[6]
visual jump
The procedure of crossing a visual gap (q.v.) without the use of a jump line.[6]
visual inspection
Internal and external inspection of a pressure vessel as part of revalidation procedure[20]
Visual Plus
Eddy current test (q.v.) of parallel neck threads of aluminium cylinders

Synthetic elastomer suitable for oxygen service O-rings.


(also Variable permeability model). A decompression model and associated algorithms based on bubble dynamics.


The Exponential/linear decompression algorithm used in the 2008 US Navy decompression tables


wall diving

Diving along the face of a near vertical cliff wall, particularly if the bottom is below the range of the diver's equipment and certification. This requires good buoyancy control.

water capacity
Of a cylinder: The internal volume. The amount of water it would hold at ambient pressure at 20 °C (68 °F)[20]
water trap
Mechanism to trap liquid water carried by the compressed gas
weighting system

Weights, generally made of lead, to counteract the buoyancy of other diving equipment, and the belts, pockets or harnesses used to support them.

welding shield
Cover for the viewport area of a helmet or mask to filter excessive light and UV when welding or oxy-arc cutting.

The component at the surface of an oil or gas well that provides the structural and pressure-containing interface for the drilling and production equipment.

wet bell

A cable-suspended chamber, open at the bottom, that is lowered underwater to operate as a base or a means of transport for a small number of divers. Normally supplied with breathing gas from the surface.

wet filling
Filling scuba cylinders using a water bath for cooling the cylinders.[37]
wet pot
Water filled hyperbaric chamber.
wet notes
A small notebook of waterproof paper carried by some divers[83]
wet suit

A close fitting, thermally-insulating, foam neoprene diving suit that allows a limited volume and movement of water inside the suit.

Flexible high pressure gas hose with connector at the free end, used for temporary connections. e.g. Filling whip, for filling cylinders, Oxygen whip for oxygen transfer, Blending whip, for decanting gases when blending gas, etc.[7]
whip check
A cable or webbing strap connecting a hose end to the attachment point in addition to the hose end fitting, which restrains the movement of the hose if the connection is broken under pressure. Whip checks connecting two hose ends may also be attached to an anchor point to limit motion further if this is practicable.[84]
whip sock

also containment grip[85]

Whip check device which contains a short section of the whip within a braided tube which reduces wear and point loading on the hose, and constrains motion of the hose end more than a standard whip check in case of disconnection under pressure[86]

Back inflation buoyancy compensator cell.

Woodville Karst Plain Project
working pressure
Maximum filling pressure rating for the cylinder at standard temperature. (also Charging pressure)[20]
work of breathing

also WOB

The effort expended in inhaling and exhaling the breathing gas.

wreck diving

Recreational or technical diving on and inside of shipwrecks.

wrist slate
A small plastic writing surface attached to the diver's wrist



yoke adaptor
A fitting used to connect a regulator or filling whip with a DIN thread connection to an international connection cylinder valve.
yoke fitting/valve
A fitting or valve used to connect a regulator or filling whip to a diving cylinder using the "international" connection.[1]

Cylinder valve body with two outlets and two valve mechanisms which can be independently controlled so that two regulator first stages can be fitted. Similar to H-valve but in Y configuration. Also known as Slingshot valve.


Buhlmann decompression algorithms. Also ZHL-16a, b and c
zip tie

(also cable tie, tie wrap) Self-locking plastic strip used to connect objects together.

Line cutting tool with a replaceable blade in a slot.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]