As scuba divers, we’re intimately connected to our equipment, especially our most fundamental gear — masks, fins and snorkels. But do you know who was the first human to strap fins on, or why mask lens are tempered? Check out these surprising facts.
1. Be thankful for silicone mask skirts. In the early days, when masks had rubber skirts, divers sometimes surfaced with their faces tinged with a ring of black.
2. Not only do objects underwater appear 25-precent closer than they really are, but the combined effect of the mask lens and water makes them appear 34-percent larger. Now, how big was that shark?
3. Many divers know tempered glass lenses are stronger than standard glass, but they’re also safer, because if broken they crumble into tiny pieces less likely to cause injury.
4. While most divers clean the protective film off a new mask by scrubbing it with a mild abrasive, it’s possible to (carefully) burn the film off using a lighter.
5. Snorkels are ancient technology. Sponge farmers on the island of Crete may have used snorkels made out of hollow reeds as early as 3,000 B.C.
6. The earliest fin designs came from some of history’s most creative minds, including Leonardo DaVinci and Benjamin Franklin. Franklin made fins from thin wood and used them in Boston’s Charles River.
7. The first mass-produced dive fin in the U.S. came from Churchill Swim Fins, established in 1938. The basic green, buoyant fins are still the style preferred by many West Coast body surfers today.
Read about the latest masks, fins and snorkels on the market today in our Gear Guide.