how does a snorkel work underwater

Snorkeling – a highly refreshing adventure sport, most sought out for vacations, trending as a travel statement nowadays.

Although it sounds like a beautiful experience to have, there is a need of proper knowledge about the sport in the wake of all its beauty.

Learn How a Snorkel Works

Carrying a snorkel gear underwater and handling it properly while enjoying the view of spectacular coral reefs down there requires you to be well acquainted with all the parts of the gear and how they function.

Here, we will get out feet wet learning how a snorkel really works!

Snorkel Gear Components

A Snorkel Gear majorly consists of three parts – a diving mask, a breathing/snorkeling tube commonly known as Snorkel, and swimming fins.

The equipment requires no special training as such, but without a thorough knowledge about how it works, it is going to be tedious to enjoy underwater life and ecosystems.

Snorkel is the most important part in obvious terms needs to be paid attention for.

 But the fact remains that the Snorkeling equipment requires much lesser effort in comparison to Scuba Diving Gear in terms of understanding and operating, that being the reason for its increasing popularity

What is Snorkel?

Snorkel is a plastic tube or a rubber tube usually one-foot-long, and 0.6 to 1 inch in diameter with a mouthpiece at the lower end, usually J or L shaped, to be fitted in the mouth under the surface of the water.

A longer tube is never advised considering the breathing problems it entails when the mouth is submerged deeper in water.

The Snorkel comes with a clip made of the same material as the tube to integrate it into the diving mask.

It can also be fitted on its periphery to the diving mask, but the task needs utmost efficiency since any lose cranny will lead to leakage which is not at all desired.

Clipping provides better fit and connect. Snorkel may also be used separately for deeper dives.

While the integrated Snorkel Gear provides the experience on the surface only, separate snorkel enables one to plunge deeper into the depths of water to explore more.

A snorkel, sometimes, is used with Scuba equipment too for surface diving.

One thing to be taken care while snorkeling is to avoid the formation of dead air zones. The air we inhale and exhale from the snorkel sometimes does not get exhaled out fully.

So when the swimmer inhales again, the same exhaled air is inhaled back in. This will lead to increase of Carbon Dioxide in the blood and so the harmful health effects, usually the Hypercapnia.

[You may also read our article on Advanced Snorkeling Tips if you have got the time]

Dry And Wet Snorkel

Going by chronological order let us talk first about the traditional snorkel and then the trending one.

Wet Snorkel being the original form used for snorkeling, usually is J shaped. It allows the water to flood in completely in the tube.

The swimmer can inhale once, dive underwater, be there for a short span of time, then come back to the surface and blast the whole water out which is not very easy as such.

Then they can dive again. It is to keep in mind that if the water is not exhaled properly from the tube while being on the surface, you are going to choke up with all unpleasant ocean water in your mouth.

The wet snorkel is light in weight, and so it allows the swimmer to dive deeper into the water without much discomfort.

It only depends on their capacity to hold breath underwater which determines whether or not to use the wet snorkel.

Dry Snorkel is for the people who are more or less aiming for shallow diving. The top end of the snorkel is fitted with a valve that restricts the entry of water into the tube.

And, even if the water makes its way through the tube during snorkeling, the valve drains full water out of snorkel system on resurfacing, keeping the tube perfectly dry and so the breathing easy, although that makes the snorkeling bit heavier.

You cannot take the dry snorkel much deep down in water due to its heavy weight. But it prevents the swimmer from the distraction of water getting into the tube leading to the discomfort thus created.

Full Face Snorkels Vs. Traditional Ones

For a lot of people, it is difficult to put the mouthpiece inside the mouth. It tends to give a feeling of vomiting.

In that case, the snorkeling tube becomes the spoiler underwater, since the swimmer is distracted all the time to the sensations in their throat while wearing it.

If only, one can bear with a huge chunk of plastic or rubber in their mouth for a time as long as at least 30-45 minutes, they can go for a traditional snorkel tube.

Otherwise, it is better to go with other options.

Now, the other option was invented to avoid choking with the mouthpiece stuffed in your mouth is to go for full face snorkels.

Full face snorkels come with a mask covering full length from your eyes to chin level.

They contain no mouthpiece as the tube is directly connected to the mask, creating a comfortable breathing chamber through both nose and mouth while submerged in water.

Only care to be taken is for the leakage of water around the mask, which is not very difficult. Wearing a full face snorkel lets you stay underwater for as long as 90 continuous minutes.

Full face snorkels also offer a broader and clearer range of visibility making the experience more praiseworthy.

They are completely suitable for swimmers as well as non-swimmers and hence attract more enthusiasts for the activity.


A perfect recreational activity for your vacations; Snorkeling is sure to provide you with its best of the experiences. It's the preferred choice for the tourists in pleasant tropical areas.

The sport is getting enough admiration among the tourists that it is making way for funding in snorkel vacation. So better to gear up for Snorkeling with as much knowledge you can muster about carrying out the activity.

So, when someday, out of nowhere, a holiday plan comes up including visions of underwater, you are ready to dive in for those tempting coral reefs.

Norma A Robertson

Hey, my name is Norma A Robertson. My hobbies include paddle boarding, kite surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc. I started this website to share my experience and ideas as well as review products that interest me to help everyone who reads it. I hope you find what you are looking for in my articles.

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