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Scuba Diving Descent : SORTED

Scuba Diving Descent : SORTED

SAFE SCUBA DIVING DESCENT: How to Conduct a Safe Scuba Diving Descent

One of the most important skills to master for anybody interested in scuba diving is descent as controlling descent allows the diver adjust to their surrounding and reduces the chance of damage to the diver and the environment. There are several reasons why a diver must master a proper descent.

  • A fast descent creates the risk of squeezing the air spaces in the body especially those found in the ear which may result in ear damage. A slow and controlled descent gives our air spaces such as mask and ears enough time to equalize the changes in pressure.
  • A delayed descent can cause divers to damage the underwater environment, by crushing the fragile reef and stepping on creatures found in the bed of the ocean.
  • A fast descent can also endanger a diver as there are plenty creatures like stingrays and stone fishes which you can step on unintentionally.
  • In addition, a fast descent can stir up the bottom of the ocean, thereby decreasing visibility


A controlled descent is very important and is quite easy to master. To make it easy to master, there’s a popular acronym- S.O.R.T.E.D that is used to guide divers when making a descent.

  • SIGNAL- Signal everybody that the dive is about to begin
  • ORIENTATION- This involves taking a look at the environment around you, identifying the exit points, looking out for a clear path to descent and a quick look at how the dive would go.
  • REGULATOR- Exchange the snorkel with the regulator
  • TIME- Start your stopwatch
  • EQUALIZE/ELEVATE- Be sure to equalize frequently especially when diving under shallow water where pressure changes are more dramatic. Elevate the Low Pressure Inflator Hose to allow air trapped in the BDC to vent out.
  • DEFLATE/DESCENT- Slowly and gradually deflate your BCD, best way is to deflate it once, exhale and check if you descend or not. If you are still on the surface, repeat this again until you descend slowly.



  • When making a descent, do so ‘feet first’ as it is much easier to deflate your BCD using the LPI hose as it only works when it’s the highest part of the body. That means you have to look up when passing air through the LPI.
  • By descending feet first, if you happen to release too much air and become negatively buoyant, you can always come back up.
  • Remember to equalize your dead air spaces (your masks and ears) and once you experience any problems equalizing, stop your descent, signal your buddy and ascent a few feet/meters to relieve some of the pressure.
  • Carry just the right amount of weight necessary for your dive as carrying too much can cause rapid descent once you release too much air suddenly.



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