Getting Nauti and the Word Origin of “SCUBA”
As you may have surmised, we here at Getting Nauti are into diving. That is, “scuba” diving. Just about everyone in the world can recognize the image on our USA Diver line as a scuba diver, and yet there are only about six million active scuba divers in the world, with roughly half of these being American. Think about that, only six million people out of a total population of about 7.5 billion. On a relative basis that is a tiny population—about five times more people worldwide actively strap boards to their feet so that they can glide down snow-covered mountains at high speeds. Interestingly, skiing also happens to be the sport that most scuba divers also actively participate in. At least, that’s what the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) has determined through their extensive research into scuba diving demographics.
So, where are we going with this?
Well, nowhere really—we just find it fascinating. And as active divers, love to share the joy of our pastime with others, with the thinking that maybe some of our enthusiasm will rub off on you.
And we were quite surprised by the relative low number of active scuba divers—everyone recognizes that iconic image of the scuba diver, but so few people actually do it. Of course, the image is so recognizable due to the scuba gear, such as tank, hoses, regulator, mask and those frog-feet-like fins.
But what is “scuba?”
The word, which actually began as the acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA), is only about 65 years old, and was reportedly coined by Major Christian Lambersten, who invented a closed-circuit underwater rebreather apparatus. In fact, he originally called his invention the Lambersten Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU), which means that we’d be going laru diving on our next trip to Florida had that acronym stuck.
The Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit
And that just doesn’t quite glide off the tongue like “scuba,” does it?
Fortunately, Lambersten renamed his device in 1952, which gives us today’s scuba. And really, Lambersten’s apparatus isn’t the scuba gear we are familiar with, as it is a type of “rebreather,” which recycles the user’s unused oxygen content. And numerous rebreather types had been invented well before Lambersten’s, so it’s a wonder that scuba isn’t called one of those earlier versions, such as the “Ichtioandre” (Greek for “fish-man,” and though patented in 1808, no prototype was ever manufactured), or the “Siebe Gorman Salvus" (one of the first commercially practical models, designed and built in the late 1800s).
But, and as often happens in our blogs, we digress. The scuba gear with its familiar-looking scuba tank, hoses and regulator as pictured in our USA Diver line, is of the open-circuit demand pedigree as designed in 1943 by famous oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan. They coined their apparatus, appropriately enough, as “Aqua-Lung,” a term that was initially somewhat adopted by the public at large, but which has since fallen out of favor to the far more utilized “scuba.”
Ad for Cousteau's Aqua Lung
And thus we are “scuba divers,” and fortunately not “laru,” “Ichtioandre,” or Siebe Gorman Salvus” divers. Our fellow scuba divers primarily reside in the states of California, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Colorado, at least according to both the numbers of people certified for open water diving in these states, and number of new divers certified annually. That last state seems kind of surprising, given that Colorado is better known for its mountains than any known diving spots, but we guess it must be something like a vice versa on the statistic regarding skiing being the sport divers are most likely to be also actively engaged in.
We could regale you with more facts and trivia regarding scuba diving (and we will definitely have more dive related blogs and gear coming), but right now we’ve to grab our gear and hit the water.
Until next time, check out our SCUBA inspired designs. Even if you’re not yet an avid diver, you now know a bit about how “scuba” came to be and can wax a bit poetic about scuba’s origins.
Hammerhead Dive Flag Collection
Sea Life Dive Flag Collection
Pirate Dive Flag Collection
Going Deep Collection
USA Diver Collection