Snorkelling is a popular recreational activity, particularly at tropical resort and scuba diving locations.
The primary appeal is the opportunity to observe underwater life in a natural setting without the complicated equipment and training required for scuba diving. It appeals to all ages because of how little effort there is, and without the exhaled bubbles of scuba-diving equipment.
TRIVIA: A snorkel is a breathing tube that allows a swimmer who is swimming along the surface of the water to breathe normally, even though the swimmer’s face is just below the surface, peering down into the water.
In the past, a traditional design for snorkels was a U-shaped tube with one side of the U much longer than the other. The short end had a mouthpiece, while the long end extended above the surface of the water like the periscope of a submarine.
Today’s designs are much more exotic and also more comfortable. The U-shape at the bottom has been straightened with a mouthpiece that simply juts off the main body. Below the mouthpiece is a purge valve used for clearing the tube of water.
Innovation has also taken place in the neck of the snorkel. Some have a divided tube with an aortic valve to separate dead air, or exhaled air, from fresh air. The exhaled air travels out through one tube, while fresh air is drawn in through the other. Both tubes are embedded in a single neck.
Various cap designs can discourage surface water from entering into the snorkel, but unless you have a dry snorkel, you’ll occasionally have to purge the breathing tube of water. This is normally done by pushing a burst of air through the tube to clear it, though some models have purge valves that can be manually activated to get rid of the water.