Scuba diving has always felt like a bit of a treasure hunt. Divers explore the underwater world right alongside those that inhabit it, combing the reefs and investigating the wrecks. Now it seems there are new treasures turning up at dive sites all around the world, but these treasures aren’t the work of pirates and legends, these are the work of geocachers — specifically, scuba geocachers.
Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a sport of high-tech treasure hunting. Originally made popular by land-based cachers, the beauty of the activity lies in its simplicity; you need only a Global Positioning System (GPS), a set of coordinates and a sense of adventure. Caches are found at a given location in a waterproof container, and the coordinates often come with clues to guide you to them. The typical contents of a cache are simple: a log book, a pencil and a trinket of some sort such as a coin or an action figure. Sometimes it’s even coordinates to another registered geocache.
Scuba divers were naturals to take to the adventure. As the land-based hunt gained popularity, underwater caches started to grow. Today, cache databases like Geocaching.com offer entire lists of underwater caches.
As with any other geocaching, scuba geocachers follow a basic etiquette that keeps caches around for the next adventurer:
- Write your name in the logbook.
- If you take something from the cache, leave something of equal or greater value.
- Put the cache back where you found it, similarly camouflaged.
- Leave nothing but bubbles, take nothing but pictures.
Combining scuba diving and geocaching can be difficult in terms of leaving logbooks and trinkets underwater. As a solution, scuba geocachers often use a multicache, where instead of the traditional prize, a diver finds an underwater clue or a set of coordinates directing him to a land-based cache.
When seeking an underwater cache, remember to take the traditional caching tools, including a waterproof GPS (though don’t take it underwater with you; waterproof does not mean submersible), a pencil to log your name and perhaps a flashlight. More important, remember your dive plan; as exciting and engrossing as scuba geocaching can be, the rules of dive safety still apply. Stay aware of your surroundings and where you are in the dive. Fun is what scuba geocaching is all about, but safety, as always, reigns supreme.
The majority of scuba geocaches are currently located in the United States, though they can also be found in Germany, Honduras, Finland, Austria and the United Kingdom. Geocaching.com keeps the largest collective of active geocaches, including a list of scuba geocaches. You can use the site to access information on existing caches or to log one of your own for other divers to explore.
© Alert Diver — Q2 Spring 2011