Last update: 11/26/2006
This part describes procedures, which have been found useful for mermaid diving. As an experienced open-water diver, you should use your own judgment in deciding what will safely work for you, and modify these procedures as you see fit.
Most interesting places for scuba diving are around rocky cliffs, promontories or around wrecks, possibly in rough water. The procedures described here have been used at such exposed spots.
However, it is highly advisable to first get familiar with the suit and the modified dive procedures in a protected
environment, such as a pool or quiet cove.
A boat dive is highly preferable over a shore dive while wearing a mermaid suit. The combination of tail, heavy tank and the need to move over a sandy or pebbly beach into the water makes is a challenge, whereas boat dives are easy. The procedures described here will focus on boat diving. An experienced mermaid can dive under the same ocean conditions as a tranditionally equipped diver, in fact even better in strong currrents due to the power of the tail/monofin.
The following assumes that there is no support crew available. If the dive platform is a dive boat or live-aboard, where a crew is available to help with tanks and camera gear, than the following preparations are not necessary, and you can proceed like with any other scuba dive. We assume a lone couple on a boat, planning to do a mermaid dive and - to make matters more challenging - also use an underwater camera.
1) You should deploy a drift line from the stern, for reasons discussed in the 'Getting out of the Ocean' section.
2) The monofin should be assembled and it should be checked that the 2” neoprene tank strap is attached to the weight belt. Previous experiences with the suit should have determined the proper lead weights. Don't forget that saltwater has 2% more buoyancy than fresh water, i.e. a 150 lb diver needs 3 additional pounds on the weight belt, compared to fresh water.
If you are planning to use underwater camera gear, or if you prefer to don the tank in the water. rather while sitting in the boat, we found the following setup very useful: Prepare two 3/8” nylon or propylene lines, each with a big stainless steel carabiner (metal loop with a spring closure) tied to the ends. These lines are left dangling overboard from the stern, one from port and one from starboard. The carabiners should be dangling about 2 feet (60 cm) below the surface. Make sure that the lines are so short that they cannot foul up the prop if retrieving them is forgotten after the dive. One of them will be used to store underwater camera gear while getting ready to dive, and the other one can hold the mermaid's tank and regulator, allowing her to don it comfortably in the water and deposit it after the dive.
The following gives a few hints for smooth suiting up.
First, put on the neoprene socks. Then, sit on the cockpit bench, slip your legs into the tail, stand up and pull the tail up to your waist. Your buddy should be close by, to catch you if you loose balance while standing up with legs confined by the tail.
Then put on the rubber gloves and slip into the upper part of the suit. This assures that the sleeves of the suit will hold the cuffs of the gloves firmly, assuring a streamlined look.
Let your dive buddy close the back zipper, sit down and pull the fin cover of the tail up, well over your calves, exposing your feet. Put the mono-fin on the floor and wriggle both your feet simultaneously into the foot pockets.
Once the feet are properly seated, your buddy should sit down next to you. Then you put your tail up on his knees. This allows him to roll the bottom part of the neoprene tail back over the mono-fin and close the broad Velcro closure along the trailing edge of the fin. Now you are transformed in a sleek mermaid!
If you need to don the suit without help, it is recommended to first slip the monofin into the tail and close the velcro. Then turn the suit inside out so that the foot pockets of the monofin become just visible. Wiggle your feet into the pockets. This is not easy, but it is possible with some effort due to the strain of the tight neoprene sheath surrounding the foot pocket. A wooden spoon will come in handy. Once your feet are securely seated, the rest is easy - just roll the suit back up over your legs and body.
Wriggle in your full mermaid suit to the dive platform, and, with the help of your buddy, don mask, snorkel, weight belt, tank and regulator while sitting there. Then let yourself fall forward into the water. Forget about that giant stride entry!
If you use the lines you get into the water without wearing your heavy tank.our buddy suspends
your tank under the boat, using one of the carabiner hooks and lines. Regulator and harness should be attached.
The tank valve must be closed. It hangs there safely- even in rough water. Do the same for camera gear on the other
side of the boat. Thus, the fragile camera and the heavy tank are safely separated and the camera is protected
Wriggle to the place where you will actually jump into the water. This is not difficult, as the neoprene suit is very flexible. Put on weight belt, mask and snorkel and slide into the water, fin first. Swim over to the tank assembly, where your buddy can help you into the harness. Even in considerable seas, this all goes with a minimum of fuss.
Get suited up as close to the shore as possible. If you need to be carried any significant distance by your buddy, the best method is a "Fireman's Carry", described on multiple websites.
Moving under your own power is best done by sitting upright, pulling up the tail to your chest, then use your arms to lift your derriere off the ground and scoot backwards. This puts least strain on yourself and the suit's surfaces. Tank donning is best done in water deep enough for you to float easily.
Swimming with a good mermaid tail is very easy. Propulsion comes from a smooth, undulating motion of the entire
body. Arms are used for major directional changes, but should be kept close to your side while swimming straight,
both for looks and to minimize water resistance. You will find that the suit/fin combinatin provides you with smooth,
very fast propulsion. Do not leave your buddy behind – he will probably have a hard time to keep up with you.
You may want to hand your snorkel off to your dive buddy for storage while underwater. Kneeling in a mermaid suit is not a stable position, you may need to use arm motions to stay upright. Other than that, you will find being underwater in a mermaid suit a delightful experience.
If you want to get on the beach, simply keep swimming until the water is only a foot deep and pull yourself up the beach. Avoid being in the surf zone, since the waves will roll you parallel to the beach and you can not fight it well.
Needless to say, a mermaid makes a most attractive underwater (and above water!) subject. There will be some
happy surprises while diving in a mermaid suit. Fish are less prone to scatter as you approach them. It probably
has something to do with the graceful motion of a mermaid, which creates far fewer eddies than the dual fins of
a normal diver. This reduction of eddies is also reason for the high speed achievable with a mermaid suit/monofin.
This makes for wonderful photo opportunities. There are beautiful videos of mermaid divers gently swimming with huge stingrays, being covered by swarms of huge fish and playing with all kinds of critters, many of them apparently quite content with the presence of a mermaid. For a glimpse of the potential, check the video clips on this website.
If you are an underwater photographer, you will know that it is easy to take pictures of the tail of a fish,
but hard to take frontal pictures of a fish. You will be like a fish, because you will be so fast. Give your photographer
a chance to take mostly frontal shots, not just pictures of your tail! Try to put yourself into a pose where the
tank is hidden from the photographer, for that special mermaid illusion. Particularly nice shots result from swimming
'downhill' and frontal shots as you twist your body towards the camera.
A mermaid makes a good photographer herself, because fish let her approach so closely. We found this to be true for reef sharks, too. But we did not see a difference in behavior of dolphins, which is surprising.
Please do never chase turtles, as tempting it may be as a fast swimming mermaid. They can drown if frightened.
Everybody can see how a mermaid can jump off a boat. How do you play this movie in reverse? As it turned out, it is not difficult. There are three ways.
It is not difficult to climb a standard dive ladder while wearing a mermaid tail. The trick is to do it backwards: When the dive team returns to the boat, have your buddy return your snorkel and remove tank assembly and weight belt. These get all suspended from the carabiner. Swim up to the dive ladder, get hold of a rung above the waterline and then, using one swift kick of the tail, lift yourself up and simultaneously spin around, landing your derrière on a rung near the waterline. It is the power of the monofin, which makes this possible. It is hard to describe and easy to do. Then use your heels – still inside the tail – to push yourself up on the dive ladder and into the boat.
For waves of 2’ – 6’ height, again suspend the gear under the boat. Then hang onto the dive platform and take off your suit while still in the water. This is quite simply done, given the suit’s design and your buddy’s help. It takes about one minute to remove the suit, except for gloves, mask and snorkel. This has been done in big swells, tens of miles from shore. Of course, once the fin is removed, you are a swimmer without any special support and currents can carry you away. Thus, you should deploy a drift line behind the water before the dive!
This is an alternative when diving from a boat which tows a dinghy. Again, remove the tank and weight belt. To enter the dinghy, hold onto the gunwale and with one mighty flick of your tail shoot into the air and into the dinghy – like a dolphin in a water show. The power of the monofin makes this possible. The dinghy may list precariously when doing this, unless it is an inflatable. Therefore, your buddy may want to hang on the other side of the dinghy to balance it.
Above Water Photography
No mermaid video or slide show is complete without some scenes of a beautiful mermaid sitting on a rock or beach. Avoid taking these beach scenes after a dive. Your hair will be wet and stringy, and the suit will dry unevenly, leaving darker damp spots on its surface. It is better to schedule a beach photo session separately, and suit up on the beach itself. This is best done on a rock, not on a sandy beach. The nicest poses show you are stretched out or leaning backwards. Watch for wrinkles in the suit. We found that wearing color-coordinated gloves with the suit gives that really elegant look. A glass of Mai-Thai is a great prop and keeps the mood light - which is important for this serene mermaid smile.
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