The mask is one of the most basic, yet essential pieces of equipment for our sport and has an interesting history. Since the human eye is not adjusted for seeing clearly without air in front of it, divers realized that thy needed some sort of air pocket in front of their eyes to see well underwater. With the beginning of diving divers fashioned goggles, similar to those which swimmers use today. These only covered divers’ eyes so I can imagine that it was pretty difficult to breathe comfortably underwater! With the growth of diving in the 1930s and after the World War II technological boom round masks that covered the eyes and nose became popular. Divers realized that they could increase peripheral vision by having an oval mask instead. These masks were usually homemade, as was most dive equipment, and were made of roughly cut glass and neuprene. As the sport really took off with Cousteau’s era dive masks were changed to have more specific eyepieces, separated the eyes chamber from the nose, and traded the neuprene skirt for silicone. These changes greatly improved the mask to give divers a greater visual field and make the masks more resistant to wear and tear, and are now the modern versions we know today.
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Marina is a Houston native who started diving at age 14 and has traveled extensively with her family to some of the best dive sites in the world. She is currently a student at Carleton College.