A typical client briefing for snorkelling
The snorkel brief should include all of the following points. A detailed example is given below.
- The proper way to fit and use snorkel gear.
- Methods to rid snorkels and masks of excess water.
- How to identify the limits to the snorkelling area (for example, the distance from boat, bommies, rest stations).
- Potential environmental hazards (such as currents, jellyfish, coral outcrops) located in the area.
- The position of lookouts and methods of signalling if your clients are in distress and in need of assistance.
- Medical precautions which may preclude snorkelling.
- Possible 'return to vessel' signals in case of departure or emergency.
- The recommendation that snorkelling be done in 'buddy pairs'.
- The recommendation that lifejackets be worn for added safety.
- Responsible Reef Practices - for example, not to touch ANY marine life (plant or animal), not to stand or touch coral, not to collect any shells or coral.
An example of a snorkel briefing
Welcome to a fun day of snorkelling on the world's largest living organism. Because you are in such a special place we want to keep it that way and so will work through how to make sure your equipment is right, that you feel safe and importantly how to make sure you know the best way to see fish and coral. Of course having fun as you do it!
Mask Selection, Fitting & Use
- Push back your hair and place the mask on your face without securing straps. Breathe in partially through your nose. If the mask clings to your face, without any leaks, it is a good fit.
- Adjust the strap so the mask fits comfortably. Do not pull the strap too tight, as this will be uncomfortable and possibly increase the chance of leakage.
- Minimise fogging by spraying de-fog into mask, rubbing it around, and rinsing with ocean water before putting the mask on.
- Be careful not to get sunscreen in the mask, this will increase fogging.
- Place the mask strap high on the crown of your head, not low on the neck.
- Do not breathe through your nose while snorkelling- only breathe through the snorkel.
- To clear water from the mask, raise your head out of the water (be careful not to stand on coral while doing this), lifting the bottom edge of the mask, and blowing out through your nose to drain.
Snorkel Fitting & Use
- Snorkels should be located on the side of the head, with the mouthpiece comfortably placed in the mouth.
- Lugs should be grasped between your teeth but do not bite down so hard that the lugs are chewed off.
- When snorkelling, angle your head at a 45 degree angle, do not look under, or too far forward - this will put the end of the snorkel underwater and allow water to be sucked in.
- Snorkels can be cleared two ways:
- With the head in the water by blowing the water out of the snorkel with a burst of air.
- By lifting the head out of the water, taking the snorkel out of the mouth, and tilting it to drain the water.
Fin Selection, Fitting & Use
- Fins should fit comfortably - tight enough to stay on while kicking, but not so tight as to cut off circulation.
- Fins can fit either foot - there are no right or left fins.
- Kick slowly, using the entire leg - kick from the hip and keep your knees straight.
- Do not try to frog kick.
- If cramps occur while snorkelling, extend your leg out in front of you, grab the tip of the fin and pull it back, extending the calf muscle. If cramps persist, snorkellers should stop snorkelling and return to the Tender of Ferry.
- Remember, fins can cause a great deal of damage by hitting corals and the reef. Stay as horizontal as possible on the top of the water, and be aware of where the fins are - do not get too close to the coral.
- Know the relevant environmental conditions on the day, including water visibility, current and tide strength and direction, marine animals, wind, etc.
- Know the location of snorkel lookouts on the pontoon.
- Know the location of buoyancy 'rest stations' (if applicable), floating 'Jesus lines' or other in-water aids.
- Do not handle or touch any marine animals or plants while snorkelling.
- Stay on the surface of the water and avoid standing up - if standing cannot be avoided, select a sandy patch.
- Be aware of the possible marine life hazards (for example, jellyfish and large fish).
- Practise snorkelling near the pontoon or vessel before venturing out into deeper water.
- Wear a lifejacket.
- Be aware of the snorkeller's own limitations.
- Snorkel with a buddy within an arm's length, and keep an eye on one another.
- Know the relevant signals that will or could be used - for example, the signal for snorkellers to use to indicate they need assistance, the signal for the recall of snorkellers back to the boat in an emergency or at the end of the day.
- If anyone is concerned about snorkelling and if it is their first time, they should approach one of the staff for further training.
- No alcohol is to be consumed prior to snorkelling.
- Be aware of the strength of the sun - snorkel with a shirt and sunscreen.
- Provide a brief introduction to the marine life, what snorkellers will see.
- Clearly state the rules of the reef: no collecting, no damaging coral, no hassling or feeding fish.
- Emphasise that it is a marine park and fully protected under the law.
Giving the Brief to Non-English Speakers
- Before a non-English snorkeller goes snorkelling, they should, if possible, have an interpreter explain the above items in the language in which they are fluent.
- If this is not possible, visual aids or instruction sheets in their language should be used.
- If neither an interpreter nor information sheets are available, then the snorkel supervisor should try to explain the snorkelling procedures as best possible, and inform the lookout to keep close supervision of these particular snorkellers when they first enter the water.
- Close supervision should be maintained until the supervisor is satisfied that they are competent, and close supervision is no longer necessary.
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