Our newest ambassador and extreme diver, Brianna Levinson, shares her tips and tricks on how to start scuba diving! Scuba diving is an awesome recreation and pastime to be involved with at any point in your life. The underwater world is fascinating and the creatures under the sea are just as curious and startled by your presence as you are with theirs. From seeing lobster and rockfish out here in the Pacific to going to the Caribbean and seeing manatees and lionfish, there are different endemic species to every place you can go dive. The types of diving range from going on a recreation dive with friends, to going out to teach a class as a dive instructor, to even going out with a permit to collect samples on a research dive. Depending on what you prefer to accomplish by becoming certified, you must go through different avenues that are actually not as complicated as they may seem. Learning to dive to me is as close as I can get to another world which captivates me, and pushes me to understand, take care of, and protect the community that resides within. Step-by-step guide to being a dive master: 1. Find a location in your area that offers introductory level, open-water certification. Most cities will have this certification, even if you live in the middle of an urban center or in the middle of the desert. Look for organizations specifically for diving and dive trips such as Ocean Enterprises as well as Sports Chalet or Sports Authority which often have a pool to train in before doing an outdoor environment dive. It may also be convenient if you are on a trip to a tropical location to obtain your certification, but it will not be as thorough of a course. 2. Learn the basics. Your basic water certification is crucial to the foundation of your diving future. In those first lessons, you learn to become comfortable having an underwater breathing apparatus. In your open water certification course you will also learn rudimentary skills such as removing your mask, losing your regulator, being the best dive buddy you can be and controlling your buoyancy to stay afloat in the water column. After you receive your open water certification it is good for life! 3. Sharpen your skills. Experience comes with more repeated dives, getting to know locations better, and familiarizing yourself with the ecosystems that reside in a given region. It is best to stay as active as possible, by doing at least a few dives per year to make sure you don’t forget how it feels to be “under pressure”. If you find yourself in a situation where you do feel not comfortable with going out on a dive, it is always an option to take a refresher course that is less expensive. Never feel forced to have to dive with anyone if you do not remember, you don’t feel comfortable or safe diving with the individual or any other questionable situations arise. 4. Take an advanced diving course. As you advance further down the road, you have many options to push your skill set. You can take advanced diving courses in most places. Specializations include: underwater navigation, night diving with lights, wreck diving, reef diving, rescue diving and research diving. 5. Explore! The most pristine locations will be the least populated ones of course, however some areas may only be known by a few individuals in the area that have grown up diving there. Trust your instincts and ask around, visit to the site a time or two before you head out on dive. I have learned that the more experienced and relaxed you are with being underwater and being prepared for any situation, the more you can accomplish with advancing your certification. 6. Invest in equipment. As you continue on with your diving career you can invest in gear along the way. I never started out with all my hard gear until about a year into my AAUS Scientific Certification. From there I began with buying my own BC, or buoyancy compensator. The next piece of equipment worth investing in is your regulators, first and second stage, as well as an octopus, or second regulator for an emergency with a dive buddy. Other essentials include gloves, booties, a hood, a mask with a snorkel, fins and weights. Your weights are dependent on how much neoprene you are wearing, the temperature of the water and the salinity. Scuba on, everyone!