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Scuba Mask Straps

Scuba Slang and Getting to Know Your Dive Gear

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We’re not born as aquatic organisms. Though, as divers, we use dive gear so that we can at least pretend that is the case! Now, we use a lot of gear, but really, do we know what everything is called? Between the acronyms, the short terms and scuba slang it may be hard to keep track as a beginner diver. Whether you are looking to buy your first set of scuba gear, want to learn more about your equipment or just want to sound cool by using all the slang terms, here is a basic gear guide.

For more in Divine Depth information about each piece of gear…

Sea to Sky

READ Buying Your First Set of Dive Gear

Wetsuit, Wetty, Steamer, Springy

One of these names makes sense. The others do not, but they all refer to wetsuits. In diving, we use wetsuits to keep us toasty while enjoying our underwater excursions and to protect our skin from stinging jellyfish or an accidental brush up against a coral.

READ Beginners Guide to Buying a Scuba Wetsuit


Wetty = Wetsuit

Steamer = Full Wetsuit = Long Wetsuit

Springy = Spring Suit = Short Wetsuit = Shorty

Fins, Mask, Snorkel, Fins

That isn’t a typo. Fins is in there twice. Fins not flippers!

Fins are an essential piece of dive gear. Using them on a dive helps you control your movement in the water and makes swimming much more efficient. After using them, you won’t understand how you got anywhere in the water without them!

Because we aren’t fish, we can’t see like a fish underwater, unless we wear a mask. Masks come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. The trick is to find one that fits properly, or else you will have to become a “Clearing Your Mask Expert” very quickly, a skill you hopefully remember from your dive course!

Unfortunately, many divers shun the snorkel, which is a big no-no. Each piece of your dive kit is there because it has a purpose, which is usually to do with keeping you safe! Snorkels help you breathe on the surface without lifting your head out of the water or using air from your tank.

Translations (these ones are easy):

Fins = Fins (not flippers)

Mask = Mask

Snorkel = Snorkel

Buoyancy Control Device, BCD, BC

You will almost never hear Buoyancy Control Device after your first dive course. Most divers refer to it as their BCD or BC. As the name suggests, this piece of equipment helps you adjust your buoyancy while diving. By inflating or deflating your BCD, you will be able to, with practice, maintain neutral buoyancy. This means not floating up or down throughout your dive! They are also handy for storage. You can clip scuba accessories onto it, such as a dive torch or dive knife. Buying a BCD with an integrated weight system, can either eliminate your weight belt or reduce the amount of weight on it!

READ Beginners Guide to Buying a BCD


Buoyancy Control Device = BCD = BC

Regulators: First Stage, Primary Second Stage, Alternate Second Stage

Most divers only use the term regulators when referring to their regulators. Sea? The term regulator is general for the different components that make up a complete set of regulators. Your regulator set includes a first stage, primary second stage and an alternate second stage. The first stage (don’t forget to put your dust cap on) is what you use to attach your primary second stage (what you put in your mouth) to the tank valve and working together, they reduce the high-pressure gas in your tank to pressure you can breathe.

Yay! Let’s go diving!

The alternate second stage is simply your alternate air source, or your octopus, occy or buddy regulator. It’s a back-up regulator in case you need to share air with another diver in an out-of-air emergency. This regulator usually has a longer hose and is almost always a bright neon yellow, which makes it easy for other divers to locate.

READ Beginners Guide to Buying a Regulator


First Stage = Regulator = Reg

Primary Second Stage = Regulator = Reg

Alternate Second Stage = Alternate Air Source = Octopus = Octo = Occy = Buddy Regulator

Instruments: Pressure Gauge, Compass and Dive Computer

We’re not talking playing the blues while hanging out in the blue. Instruments refer to your pressure gauge, compass and dive computer, which are crucial to have on every dive. Your pressure gauge tells you how much air you have left in your cylinder. A compass guides you and your dive computer, measures your real time depth, bottom time (how long you have been diving for) and calculates your no decompression limits (how much time you can safely stay at a certain depth). A dive computer will probably be one of the first pieces of gear you will buy.

READ 8 GREAT WHITE Reasons You Should Own a Dive Computer

READ Beginners Guide to Buying a Dive Computer


Pressure Gauge = Submersible Pressure Gauge = SPG

Compass = Compass

Dive Computer = Computer


We need weights to help us sink down to our home under the sea. There are a few ways we can arrange them on our scuba person.

A weight belt is likely what you used when you first learned to dive. There are classic styles or pocket styles.

Similarly, there are weight harnesses that take the burden of the weight off the hips and onto the shoulders.

The last is using a BCD with an integrated weight system, which holds your lead in weight pockets that clip into your BCD.

Choosing how you wear your weight is entirely up to the preference of you, the diver.


Weight = Lead

Was that rad? Do you feel stoked now about your next diving adventure? Wait… That’s more surfer talk… Not scuba talk!

Anyway, we hope you found Divine value in this post and feel a bit more comfortable when it comes to talking in the world of scuba!

And lastly, as always, dive safe and have fun!

“Every time I slip into the ocean, it’s like going home.”

–  Dr. Sylvia Earle


La Galigo

About Author

Richelle is the founder of Divine Depth, a blog about scuba diving, wildlife conservation and sustainability. She’s a passionate scuba diving instructor, ocean and science advocate and lover of turtles and all things wild

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Scuba Mask Straps