Exploring the Depths: How Deep Can You Dive Safely and Beyond?

Learn about recreational diving industry standards and how deep you can safely dive without assistance. Discover extreme depths and heliox.

Exploring the Depths: How Deep Can You Dive Safely and Beyond?

The recreational diving industry has a standard depth limit of 130 feet (40 meters). Anything beyond 60 feet requires advanced certification. During your advanced open water course, you will be trained to dive to a depth of 100 feet.

Deep diving

is defined as any dive that exceeds 60 feet (18.28 meters).

This means that most people can safely dive to a maximum of 60 feet. For the average swimmer, a depth of 20 feet (6.09 meters) is the maximum they'll go to explore underwater reefs. Human bone is crushed at about 11159 kg per square inch, which means that we would have to dive about 35.5 km deep before our bones are crushed. This is three times deeper than the deepest point in our ocean! The dive was a constant weight apnoea without fins, meaning that the diver was not allowed to lose weight or use swimming aids. With practice, you can dive safely to explore greater depths without the use of diving equipment.

Diving Accidents and Free Diving

Mark Ellyatt, Don Shirley and Pascal Bernabé were involved in serious incidents and were lucky enough to survive their dives.

A free diver will breathe deeply and dive hundreds of feet underwater without any dive equipment. In professional diving, a depth that requires special equipment, procedures, or advanced training can be considered a deep dive. The failure of the non-return valves and the crushing of divers in the first pressurized suit dives further highlighted this fear.

Underwater Logistics and Saturation Diving

All the complexities of deep-sea diving are compounded by the diver's need to carry (or supply) their own gas underwater. A diver at 6 meters (20 feet) can dive for many hours without needing to make decompression stops.

There are some saturation complexes of this type, but commercial satellite divers live aboard dive support vessels (DSV) in hyperbaric homes. Many of these problems are avoided through the use of respirable gas supplied by the surface, closed dive bells and saturation diving, at the cost of logistical complexity, lower maneuverability for the diver and higher cost.

Deep Diving Certification

For some recreational diving agencies, deep diving or deep diving can be a certification awarded to divers who have been trained to dive at a specific depth range, generally at a depth greater than 30 meters (98 feet). As you gain confidence swimming underwater with scuba gear, you may be curious to know how deep you could dive without it. You can dive into the habitat for a night, and the lodge is shallow enough that you don't have to do days of decompression (or any decompression) or have to spend a week in a hyperbaric chamber when you return to the surface the next day.

Extreme Depths and Heliox

This pressure, known as “storage depth”, is often too deep for diving with air, so divers breathe a mixture of helium and oxygen called heliox.

William Trubridge, a 30-year-old New Zealander, is the first man to dive 121 meters (396 feet) without assistance.

Ethan Kelly
Ethan Kelly

Lifelong internet nerd. Hardcore food fan. Devoted burrito ninja. Incurable travel junkie. Beer ninja. Hardcore zombie expert.