Do you wonder what it looks like beneath the ocean's surface? SCUBA diving and snorkeling are great ways to explore the underwater world. Here are some fun activities you can do to discover more about diving.

Underwater Explorers diving program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Diving Gear

Animals that live in the water, like seals, sea otters and fish, are naturally well-equipped for ocean diving. We need special equipment, like SCUBA gear, to dive under water.


The regulator makes breathing under water almost as easy as breathing on land. It reduces the high air pressure in the SCUBA tank to the pressure of the air around us.

SCUBA tank

We have no equipment that works like the gills of fishes. Their gills pull oxygen out of the water around them. We have to breathe air, so we just bring it under water with us in a SCUBA tank. SCUBA tanks store a lot of air in a small package. The cylinders have thick walls of aluminum or steel to hold compressed air inside.


Just like an otter has fur and other marine mammals have blubber, we too need insulation to stay warm in the water. With a drysuit, you not only stay warm but you can go into the ocean and come out dry! Drysuits are designed to not let water in. They have latex seals at the neck, wrists and ankles and have a waterproof zipper. Drysuits are great for colder water because you can add layers of warm clothing underneath.


Marine animals' eyes are specially adapted to see under water. If we were to open our eyes under water, everything would be blurry. We need to have air around our eyes to see. Masks put an air space between our eyes and the water so we can see all the cool things below!

Explorer's Vest

Fish use what is called an air bladder to stay up in the water column instead of sinking to the bottom of the sea. The Explorer's Vest is designed to do the same thing. The vest is also known as a BCD (Buoyancy Compensating Device). We add air to the BCD at the surface so we can float and rest. We can let air out of the BCD to go down. Once down, we can add air so that we are up off of the bottom and swimming just like a fish!


Many fins are designed like the fins of animals, such as whales and sea lions. Can you imagine swimming with all of this gear on? No way! But fins make it easier to move through the water by using the large muscles of our legs. We use less energy and can go farther and faster using fins.

Got a question about diving or the ocean? Ask Diver Dana!