AskDefine | Define snorkel

Dictionary Definition



1 breathing device consisting of a bent tube fitting into a swimmer's mouth and extending above the surface; allows swimmer to breathe while face down in the water
2 air passage provided by a retractable device containing intake and exhaust pipes; permits a submarine to stay submerged for extended periods of time [syn: schnorkel, schnorchel, snorkel breather, breather] v : dive with a snorkel

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A hollow tube, held in the mouth, used by swimmers for breathing underwater.
  2. A retractable tube fitted in diesel-engine submarines to allow sufficient ventilation that the engines may be used at periscope depth.



  1. To use a snorkel.

Derived terms


use a snorkel

Extensive Definition

Snorkeling (British spelling: snorkelling) is the practice of swimming at the surface of a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube called a snorkel, and usually swimfins. In cooler waters, a wetsuit may also be worn. Combining these tools allows the snorkeler to observe underwater attractions for extended periods of time with relatively little effort.
Snorkeling is a popular recreational activity, particularly at tropical resort destinations and at accessible scuba diving locations. Snorkeling is also employed by scuba divers when near the surface, and search and rescue teams may snorkel as part of a water-based search.
The primary attraction of snorkeling is the opportunity to observe underwater life in a natural setting. This may include coral reefs and their denizens, such as fish, cephalopods, starfish, sea urchins, and mollusks. Snorkeling in sandy areas may allow sighting of rays and various flatfish. Other organisms that can be seen while snorkeling include various forms of seaweed, jellyfish, shrimp, sea turtles, various types of sea cactus and occasionally anything else which may be found in the ocean.

Getting started

Snorkeling requires no special training, only the ability to swim and to breathe through the snorkel. However, it is considered advisable that one get some instruction from a tour guide, dive shop, or equipment rental shop, any of which often can be found around popular snorkeling locations. Instruction generally covers equipment usage, basic safety, what to look for, and what to look out for, including how not to damage fragile organisms such as coral. As with scuba diving, it is always recommended that one not snorkel alone, but rather with a "buddy", a guide, or a tour group.
The mask and snorkel are similar to those used in scuba diving, but since they are not subjected to the pressures of deep water, they can be more lightweight and comfortable. Swimfins used in snorkeling are usually longer than those used in diving.
Experienced snorkelers often start to investigate amateur free-diving, which should be preceded by at least some training from a dive instructor or experienced free-diver.

Swimmer's snorkel

A swimmer's snorkel is a tube about thirty centimeters (twelve inches) long, usually J-shaped, fitted with a mouthpiece, and constructed of rubber or plastic. It is used for breathing air from above the water surface when the mouth and nose are submerged, either when snorkeling or during a surface swim before or after scuba diving. The snorkel usually has a piece of rubber that attaches the snorkel to the outside of the strap of the diving mask, as sticking the snorkel in between the strap and the mask could cause the mask to leak, or risk losing the snorkel should the diver choose to switch to scuba.
Typically, the diving mask also serves to prevent breathing through the nose, so that one is forced to breathe through the snorkel. This also provides some negative pressure which helps keep the mask sealed against the face, though attempting to breathe out through the nose can break this seal and/or fog the mask.
The most common type of snorkel is a simple tube that is allowed to flood when underwater. The snorkeller expels water from the snorkel either with a sharp exhalation on return to the surface or by tilting the head backwards once the head is above water.
Some modern snorkels have a sump in the mouthpiece to allow a small volume of water to remain in the snorkel without being inhaled when the diver breathes. Some also have a one-way output valve in the sump, which automatically drains the sump as it fills with water. Some snorkels have float-operated valves attached to the surface end of the tube to keep water out when the snorkeller submerges. Snorkels used to be sold with ping pong balls at the end of the tube. They are no longer sold or used, as they are considered hazardous to the snorkeler, as is the obsolete snorkel built into the diving mask.
The maximum usable length of the snorkel tube is around forty centimetres (about fifteen inches). A longer tube would place the lungs in deeper water where the surrounding water pressure is higher and the lungs would be unable to inflate when the diver inhales, because the muscles that expand the lungs are not strong enough to operate against the higher pressure. Snorkels also create what is called "dead air space." When the user takes in a fresh breath, some of the previously exhaled air remains in the snorkel and is recycled into the lungs, reducing breathing efficiency and causing CO₂ retention. The greater the volume in the device, the more this problem is magnified.

Snorkeling locations

Snorkeling is possible in almost any body of water, but snorkelers are most likely to be found in locations where there are minimal waves, warm water, and something particularly interesting to see near the surface. Some of the most popular locations are warm, coral-rich seas such as the Caribbean Sea, the Coral Sea and the Red Sea.

Variants and related activities


  • Snorkelling for All, BSAC, ISBN 0-09-188304-0

External links

snorkel in German: Schnorcheln
snorkel in Spanish: Tubeo
snorkel in French: Plongée libre
snorkel in Indonesian: Snorkeling
snorkel in Italian: Snorkeling
snorkel in Dutch: Snorkelen
snorkel in Polish: Snorkeling
snorkel in Russian: Снорклинг
snorkel in Simple English: Snorkeling
snorkel in Finnish: Snorklaus
snorkel in Swedish: Snorkling

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Aqua-Lung, Foamite, acid, adjutage, air cylinder, aquascope, automatic sprinkler, bathyscaphe, bathysphere, benthoscope, carbon tet, carbon tetrachloride, carbon-dioxide foam, catheter, deck gun, deluge set, diving bell, diving boat, diving chamber, diving goggles, diving helmet, diving hood, diving mask, diving suit, drainpipe, efflux tube, extinguisher, fire apparatus, fire engine, fire hose, fire hydrant, fireplug, flue pipe, foam, foam extinguisher, funnel, garden hose, gas pipe, hook-and-ladder, hose, hosepipe, ladder pipe, nipple, organ pipe, periscope, pipe, pipeline, pipette, piping, pumper, reed, reed pipe, scuba, siamese, siamese connection, siphon, soda, soil pipe, sprinkler, sprinkler head, sprinkler system, standpipe, steam pipe, stem, straw, submarine, super-pumper, swim fins, tap, tube, tubing, tubulation, tubule, tubulet, tubulure, waste pipe, water, water cannon, water pipe, wet blanket, wet suit
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1