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July 2007    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 22, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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So How Many Divers Are There, Really

from the July, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Some readers had comments about the question we raised in the May and June issues. Regarding our estimate of 1.2 million active divers in North America, Craig Harper (Collierville, TN) agrees we’re in the ballpark. He works for market research firm Simmons, which published a study last fall about Americans’ leisure activities. Adults who said they dive or snorkel make up five percent of the population, or five million people. Those who dive or snorkel “every chance they get” total 1.8 million people.“ There’s a huge difference in snorkeling once a year on vacation and serious divers making multiple trips, but we think this is a reliable indicator of market size given the questions we asked respondents,” says Harper.

Elaine Hopkins (Bratenahl, OH) took issue with the reasons given for scuba’s flatlining growth rate, saying it’s not just about younger people going for extreme sports. “Younger people have families, demanding careers and barely enough time to manage both. Diving requires time to learn the skills needed to master it. Dive trips take time and money. And don’t forget the cost of obtaining and maintaining equipment. It’s an expensive passion.”

Mike Boom (Oakland, CA) pointed out a mathematical error we made when calculating decompression illness cases in Canada’s Abacus project. “You came up with 0.00002 percent for three deaths out of 146,291 air fills. Because it’s a percentage, you then needed to multiply by 100 to get 0.002 percent. Too bad, because the other figure gave me more confidence to dive.”

Another error concerns the quotes from NAUI vicepresident Jed Livingston. He cited a National Sports Association survey from 2001 calculating two fatalities per 100 divers. That should have been the National Sporting Goods Association. However, when we called to check on the two fatalities per 100 Livingston mentioned, the NSGA told us it never has published information about fatality rates. That just underlines the fact that when it comes to knowing the number of divers out there, dive industry experts are just as clueless as anyone else.

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