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Snorkeling Glossary


Below are a list of Snorkeling terms to help you better understand the sport and its snorkeling gear.

Bicycle Kick: a type of kick propelling one’s self through the water in a manner which resembles the movement required to pedal a bicycle. Generally, the knees are kept at a 90 degree angle and move in a cyclic motion. This type of kick can be very tiring and is inefficient.  

Coral: a microscopic animal which greatly varies in size and variety. Grows on average at one centimeter per year. When the animal dies, it leaves behind a skeleton upon which a “reef” is formed. See also “coral reef,” or “reef.”  

Coral Reef: a formation requiring millions of years of growth to develop. Often consisting of colorful and diverse animals which resemble plants, these formations provide shelter to thousands of plants and animals. In addition, these formations also require specific temperatures, ample sunlight, and water movement to grow and sustain life. It is important to note that coral reefs are delicate and fragile ecosystems. Do not touch or stand on coral as it can do great harm.

Dolphin Kick: a type of propulsion through the water resembling the up and down movement of the dolphin’s tail flukes. This kick is achieved by keeping both feet together while simultaneously kicking in an up and down fashion. The kick is highly effective in propelling through the water and thereby conserving energy.

Dry Rot: a condition in which rubber goods begin to lose their flexibility and dry out, causing cracks, and unreliable performance which includes but is not limited to leaks and tears.

Dry Snorkel: a device used to facilitate breathing while one’s face is in the water. The design of this device includes a ball and/or design in the top so that it can keep water from entering the barrel, and thereby keeping the device “dry.”

Exposure Protection: a variety of garments used to protect the snorkeler from the surrounding environment. The garments used are dictated by water temperature, and can include wetsuits, rash guards, and swim suits.

Fin Blade: the portion of the fin responsible for propulsion, which varies in size and shape dictated primarily by the activity in which it is engaged.

Fin Strap: a rubber strap used to secure the fin on the foot of the diver or snorkeler.

Fish: a variety of bony animals which inhabit aquatic environments, use gills to breathe, and reproduce by laying eggs.

Fitness Fins: a type of fin used primarily for swimming laps in a pool. The fin is generally short, has an open heel, with an adjustable fin strap.

Fixed Tube Snorkel: a “j” shaped snorkel which is not flexible.

Flex Snorkel: a snorkel that has allows movement between the bottom of the barrel and the top of the mouthpiece. The benefit of this design is that it allows the snorkel to hang away from the snorkeler’s face when it is not in use.

Flutter Kick: a type of propulsion through the water in which the toes are to remain pointed downward, the knees slightly bent, and the power of the kick is derived from the thigh muscles. This kick is highly efficient in propelling the snorkeler through the water.

Foot Pocket: an opening on a fin in which the foot is inserted. Depending on the type of fin, this could be an open heel foot pocket, where the heel sticks out the back, and the fin is secured by an adjustable heel strap. Or, the fin could have a full foot fin pocket where the selection is made according to shoe size. See also “full foot fins.”

Freediving: a type of diving in which the participant uses elongated fins, a mask, a snorkel, and a special exposure suit to dive to deep depths, and prove the feat by retrieving a tag from a disk at the bottom of the line along which they are diving.

Freshwater: a body of water with a salinity (salt content) of less than 35 parts per thousand. Also written as a body of water with less than 3.5% salt content.

Full Foot Fins: a fin which has an opening in which the snorkeler places his foot. The selection of these fins is determined by shoe size.

Housings: a device used to protect another device from exposure to the elements. Cameras are often put in housings so that they can be used in underwater photography.

LED Lights: a powerful light used in extreme conditions of darkness.

Marine Life: a variety of plants and animals that live in aquatic environments. This term includes, but is not limited to fish, sharks, rays, dolphins, whales, turtles, and coral. See also, “marine mammal.”

Marine Mammal: includes polar bears, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and whales. The three defining features include giving birth to live young, providing milk to their young, and having hair.

Snorkeling Mask: worn on the face to provide an air space for the snorkeler’s eyes to adjust and see their surroundings.

Mask Strap: made of either silicone or rubber, it is adjustable to comfortably secure the mask on a snorkeler.

Mask Strap Wrapper: a piece of neoprene placed over a mask strap to make it more comfortable to wear.

Mouthpiece: a device placed in one’s mouth to facilitate breathing through a snorkel. Generally made of silicone or rubber.

Neoprene: rubber which consists of numerous tiny air pockets and compresses under pressure. In addition, provides great exposure protection to snorkelers and is the material from which wetsuits are made.

Open Heel Fins: fins where the foot is not fully concealed in a foot pocket. The proper fit consists of the foot being in the pocket, and the heel hanging off the back edge, held in place by an adjustable fin strap.

Pike Surface Dive: a method where the individual bends forward at the waist, drives his body underwater, and only until his feet become submerged does he begin a scissor kick to propel himself to deeper depths.

Prescription Lenses: lenses which are adjusted so that people with other than 20/20 vision can see clearly.

Purge Valve: located at the bottom of the snorkel to expel water.

PVC: Rigid rubber material used the manufacturing of cheap snorkel gear.

Rashguard: a shirt worn to protect a snorkeler’s skin from sunburn and abrasions, it may also provide warmth.

Reef: a formation requiring millions of years of growth to develop. See ‘coral reef” for full definition.

Safety Sausage: an inflatable device often orange in color which is waved on the surface to visually signal to a boat crew.

Saltwater: water with a salinity (salt content) greater than 35 parts per thousand. Also described as water which has more than a 3.5% salt content.

Save a Dive Kit: consists of snorkel keeper, fin strap, mask strap, mouthpiece and any other items that may be needed during a snorkeling or dive trip.

Silicon: a compound that is rubber like and used in making silicone rubber.

Silicone Rubber: pliable soft material used in the manufacturing of snorkeling masks and snorkel mouthpiece. Its soft yet durable makeup make it perfect to hold up over time.

Skin Diving: scuba diving or freediving under the world.

Snorkel: curved J shaped tube used for breathing while face down in the water.

Snorkel Bore: the opening and inside of the snorkel that allows air to be pulled from the surface and brought to the lungs.

Snorkel Keeper: used to attach a snorkel to the mask, usually resembling a stretched out number 8.

Snorkel Vest: inflatable safety device that is either looped over the head or worn as a jacket, can be inflated by way of your mouth and is required by most snorkeling trip companies.

Snorkeling: a sport or leisure activity where you lay in the water face down wearing a snorkel mask and breathing through a J shaped device called a snorkel, usually performed to interact with the underwater world.

Snorkeling Gear: equipment used for the leisure sport of snorkeling, performed to explore beneath the water from the surface.

SPF: sun protection factor.

Split Fins: fins with a space cut out vertically through the blade allowing for an easier kick with little loss of power.

Streamlining: performed  by putting your body in a position that lowers your water resistance and drag through the water.

Surge: wind blowing against the surface of the water causing higher than usual sea levels.

Swim Fins: used for swim training by allowing the legs to generate more power through the water.

Tempered Glass: harden glass that is more difficult to break and crumbles when broken instead of splintering into sharp shards of glass.

Tides: rise and fall of the Oceans and inlets caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon.

Travel Fins: fins created with a smaller blade for easier more efficient packing.

Undertow: rushes of water below the surface of the water.

Waterproof: able to keep water from entering an area.

Waterproof Camera: camera that has the ability to keep the electronics of the camera dry and working while being used beneath the water.

Waves: disturbances in a body of water’s surface.

Weights: heavy material (usually lead) used to weight a diver below the surface of the water.

Wetsuit: suit made of neoprene that slows the flow of water around the body so the body can maintain a consistently warmer temperature.
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