The Science Behind Scuba Flippers

Snorkel equipment on a tropical sandy beach

Scuba flippers are one of the most important things a diver must have. Fins help divers glide through the water. Without the help of scuba flippers, pushing through the water below would be much more difficult. The effort of moving forward would cause the divers to use up a lot of air. This would significantly shorten their stay underwater, making their dive less enjoyable. This is the reason why choosing the right pair of fins is important. Getting a pair of scuba flippers that lessens the effort needed to cover a certain distance will definitely prolong a diver’s stay underwater. Knowing how they work will definitely help a person pick the right pair of fins for a dive.

How Paddle Fins Work

Paddle fins are the most commonly used scuba flippers. This is the most conventional type of flippers available in the market. With each kick, these scuba flippers move the water upward and downward just like a paddlewheel steamship. This can be very helpful to divers who are fighting through currents. Although the mechanics of paddle fins are fairly efficient, some improvements in their structure can lessen the drag that may cause a person to exert more effort when diving. The cause of this drag is the accumulation of the water on top of the paddle fins.

A Slight Modification to Minimize Effort

In order to make it easier for divers to move underwater, the original design of scuba fins have been modified to cancel out the sources of this drag. Some paddle fins now have angles that would allow divers to have a stronger kick at a certain position. This will also cause the water to slide down instead of accumulating on top of the fins. The downside of using these fins is that a person may have to exert some effort during the part of a stroke when the fins are in a certain position.

A New Breed of Scuba Flippers

Through the years, a number of well-known companies have manufactured scuba flippers that have been modified to lessen the drag. Most of the fins available today have splits, cut outs and vents that can improve their efficiency underwater. The split fins, for example, have a vertical split in the middle. Because of their structure, these fins can cut through the water like a propeller that creates a lift and forward propulsion. Instead of accumulating on top of the fin, the water goes through the opening between the blades, reducing the drag. This allows the diver to cover a certain distance with lesser strokes.

Some fins have horizontal splits or cut outs which allow them to push the water back. They also have well-placed vents that ensure that the water does not accumulate on top of the flippers.

Proper Care of Scuba Flippers

The efficiency of scuba flippers is maintained by proper care. As proven by the science involved in the design of scuba flippers, a change in the structure can decrease their efficiency. For this reason, they should not be stored vertically because this will cause them to become bent. Also, when packing these fins, one should make sure that they are lying flat on a surface.

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