As a diver you will generally spend more time on boats than you will exploring the underwater world. Feeding the fish, Mel de Mar, Seasickness, call it what you’d like, most divers will experience this very uncomfortable ill feeling at least once in their diving careers. Here are a few tips on how not to let feeling a little bit under the weather spoil your fun.
What is seasickness?
Seasickness is a form of motion sickness, named so because you feel it when you are on a boat, often in choppy seas or on long passages like a cruise.
A popular theory as to why we get seasick (or more correctly motion sick) is that you get different sensory inputs to your brain. For example when you are on a boat your eyes might ‘see’ that your surroundings are not moving (perhaps when you are below deck or looking down at your dive gear). At the same time your inner ear senses the motion of the boat. Because of these two conflicting sensory inputs your brain thinks that you might be hallucinating. It believes that this hallucinating is because you have ingested poison. Your brain then makes you feel nauseous in an attempt to get rid of this poison.
How can I prevent seasickness?
There are a number of drugs available that can help prevent seasickness. Most of these make you feel drowsy and thus it is not the best solution for scuba divers.
Try some of the following to settle your tummy next time you are out on a dive boat:
- Look at the horizon. By looking up and out, the difference in the signals that your eyes and ears pick up is not as big as your eyes take the swaying of the boat into account.
- An apple a day… What you had to eat could play a big influence on how you feel out on the water. Green apples are said to settle the stomach. The same goes for coke as it contains phosphoric acid and sugar. Oily and spicy food as well as dairy products should be avoided while salty crackers are generally a good pre-dive snack. Ginger, in any form (pills, powder, tea, soft drink) is also a good remedy to counter nausea.
- Tactical chunder. If you cannot keep it in, let it out. Vomiting could make for a much more pleasant experience and could solve the problem. Just remember to do this downwind!
- Sea bands. You can find these special straps at most pharmacies. They work on stimulating an acupuncture point on the inside of your wrist said to counter nausea.
- Alcohol. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol the night before or while you are on the boat. Alcohol dehydrates your body which makes you more susceptible to seasickness.
- Musical chairs. Where you sit on the boat could prevent or resolve your seasickness symptoms. Sitting in the middle of the boat, facing the front will help you as there might be slightly less movement in that area and you can easily keep your eyes on the horizon.
- All I need is the air that I breathe… Sit where you can get plenty of fresh air, focus on relaxing and stay away from other Mel de Mar sufferers!
If all else fail try and focus on something different like the manta’s that you are about to see, and remember that a little bit (ok, maybe a lot) of discomfort is completely worth it!
*A version of this article first appeared at www.scubadiverlife.com