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Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring into Snorkeling

Libby Carnahan
Sea Grant Marine Agent 

Spring is in the air, and under the water. As the temperatures warm this season, consider strapping on some snorkeling gear, cooling off and exploring the underwater world in our backyard. Snorkeling is a relaxing and gratifying activity that can be fun whether it is your first time or your five hundredth time in the water.

Whether you are floating above the seagrass flats spying on seahorses, or exploring an artificial reef, the key to a great snorkeling experience is good preparation. If you are a non-swimmer, contact a local dive shop or fitness center for swimming classes to help increase your comfort level in the water. You may also choose to rent gear or purchase your own. Staff at local outdoor stores or dive shops can advise you, help you try on the gear before purchase, and ensure you have proper fitting gear.

It is always safest and more fun to snorkel with a dive buddy. When snorkeling from a boat, regulations require a dive flag displayed on your boat and when snorkeling from shore, you must keep a floating dive flag with you . Boaters should recognize your dive flag and its meaning, however always err on the side of caution and pay close attention to boat traffic in your vicinity.

It is important to check real-time and predicted marine weather and the tides as calm to light winds are best for snorkeling. Heavy winds will cause rough waters and decrease underwater visibility. Likewise, tides can affect the speed of local water movement, the turbidity of the water, and of course, the depth of the water.

Freshwater springs offer crystal clear water and a confined environment that provide a high level of comfort. Marine habitats including seagrass beds, sponge flats, hardbottom habitats, coral reefs, and artificial reefs provide opportunities to view a diversity of fish and marine invertebrates! So, grab your gear, explore Florida’s underwater worlds and have fun!

Equipment (*Essential, †Recommended)
*Dive Mask (with Tempered Glass)
†Snorkel vest
†Exposure protection (rash guard, dive skin, dive hood or cap, wetsuit)
†Safety Sausage
*Dive Flag
†Underwater Wildlife Identification Cards

Salt Water Tide Predictions

Marine Weather Forecast

Real-Time Tide Levels, NOAA Tides and Currents

Real-Time Wind Conditions


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