SNORKELING ACTIVITY CARD
Parts of the Body Worked
Upper & Lower Legs
Heart & Lungs
Shoulders & Neck
Heart & Lungs
Snorkeling is just like swimming, but with fins, a mask, and a tube called a snorkel for breathing underwater.
To snorkel you don’t need a lot of complicated equipment—a mask, snorkel, fins, and swimsuit or swimming trunks are all you need.
Mask. It’s important to buy a good mask that’s the right size for your face and has a tight-fitting seal. The easiest way to test how well your mask fits is to lift the strap over the top of the mask and press the mask to your face without breathing in. If it stays tight to your face (without you holding it on), you’ve got the right fit. If not, keep looking until you find one that seals properly. You’ll want to get a mask that has a glass face (not plastic) to keep it from fogging up or making the sites below look weird.
Snorkel. There are many different sizes and designs of snorkels—find one that is comfortable, and allows you to clear water easily. It’s important that you find the right snorkel for you—it’s what helps you breathe while you’re cruising along in the water checking out the sites below.
Fins. There are a few different types of fins to choose from—full-foot fins fit like a slipper around your heel, while open-heel fins fit your feet and have a strap that fits around your heel. Your fins should be snug, but not too tight (if your fins are too tight or loose, they may cause blisters). They should be flexible and lightweight—to give you speed and mobility. You may also want to get diving booties to prevent blisters and protect your feet.
If you’re swimming in salty water, make sure to rinse all of your equipment with fresh water. If you don’t, salt crystals can form causing the straps to stiffen and crack, and the fabric may tear. So, keep your equipment clean. Remember, it’s what allows you to move through the water and check out the underwater world more easily!
Play it Safe
Always make sure your snorkel, fins, and mask are in good working order before taking the plunge. It’s also important to know the basics like how to clear water from your snorkel (blasting), and how to put your mask back on while treading water. Until you get more experienced, you may want to wear a life jacket—it will help you stay afloat if you need a rest, or if you get into trouble in the water.
Most importantly, never snorkel alone. Always swim with a buddy and keep them close by so you can help each other out—and, it’s more fun with a friend!
Use your noggin’—check out the weather forecast and the water’s visibility before you jump in. And don’t forget, coral reefs are fun to explore, but don’t go too close to them until you’ve learned how to steer your body in the water. Never touch a reef—they are sharp and some have ocean life that may be poisonous. Always be considerate of the places you are snorkeling in, they may be another animal’s home.
Finally, watch out for the sun! Wear a t-shirt and sunscreen to make sure you don’t get sunburned.
How to Play
Before heading out to explore the water, it’s important to know how to swim. Finding the right mask or snorkel should be next on your list.
Learning to use a snorkel is easy. You may want to practice in a swimming pool (or shallow water where you can stand) until you get the hang of it. First, put your mask on—it should have a small rubber strap that attaches the snorkel to your mask, and the snorkel should pass just above your left ear. Take a deep breath, bite down on the mouthpiece and slowly place your head into the water (make sure to breathe through your mouth). Breathe out through your mouth once to clear any water out of the snorkel—this is called blasting. Inhale slowly in case there’s water in your tube, then blast your snorkel again just to make sure you get as much water out as you can. Swim along the surface of the water at a slow pace. If you swim too fast, or make lots of sudden movements with your arms and legs, you can scare the fish and other sea creatures away!
After you get the hang of using your snorkel and mask, you may want to take a dive. Try some shallow dives to get an idea of how long you can hold your breath. It’s important to know your limits.
Ever wonder why your ears pop when you dive down into the deep end of a swimming pool, or when you’re swimming in the ocean and go under too far? Well, it has to do with pressure—both from the water pushing in on you, and the air trapped in your ears pushing out.
To solve the problem of pressure in your ears, you can even it out by holding your nose shut with your fingers and blowing into your nose. You will hear your ears pop and the pain and pressure should go away. If this doesn’t work, try yawning—this trick also helps to release the pressure.
One of the best snorkeling spots in the United States is Molokini, a Marine Preserve in Hawaii just a few miles off the shore of Maui. It’s in an old volcano that rises out of the ocean and forms a ring-shaped coral reef and small island, with a lagoon surrounded by open sea.
Coral reefs are home to over 4,000 different species of fish, 700 species of coral, and thousands of other plants and animals.
Did you know that one touch of a coral reef could easily give you a nasty cut? But that’s not all—you can damage the reef too! Reefs only grow about an inch each year and if you touch it, you could kill it.
- Page last reviewed: May 9, 2015
- Page last updated: May 9, 2015
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