Let’s talk about Enriched Air Nitrox (EAN).
Imagine you’re on a Liveaboard in the Maldives.
You’re on your third repetitive dive, a fever of manta rays come along, but you’re at no-stop time and need to ascend.
You’re now ready to jump in after a long surface interval, and they are nowhere in sight for the rest of the trip.
Well, that scenario is frustrating.
Now another scenario: You’re on your third dive. A fever of manta rays appear. You’ve got plenty of deco time. You can now relax, take pictures, and admire these breathtaking creatures.
The difference here is diving with an air tank or Enriched Air Nitrox (EAN) tank.
Nitrox is a combination of Nitrogen and Oxygen. And back to basics, the air we breathe is 21% Oxygen and 79% Nitrogen. This mix is what you’ll find in recreational scuba diving tanks. Enriched Air Nitrox is more than a 21% oxygen mix. Commonly the tanks are mixed to 32% Oxygen or 36% Oxygen and is often referred to as EAN32 or EAN36. The EAN tanks are noticeable by the bright yellow and green label (or color required by the country’s regulations).
Here’s why you should get on board with Enriched Air Nitrox…
EXTENDED BOTTOM TIME
Have you ever been to Inchcape 1 and wanted to stay longer than 20 minutes? Living in the UAE, we can visit again, but on a liveaboard, you might not have that option.
Divers can extend their no-decompression limits by reducing the amount of nitrogen that is absorbed. The less nitrogen there is in a diver’s breathing gas, the lower his nitrogen absorption will be at a given depth.
Remember, the tank is still refilled to 200 bars. If you’re a gas guzzler, that won’t change – EAN won’t slow you down.
REDUCED SURFACE INTERVAL TIMES
Another favorite for divers using Nitrox is the reduced surface interval time. If there’s a lot of ground to cover in a new dive location, depending on your NDL, you can enjoy shorter surface interval time.
LONGER REPETITIVE DIVES
On a dive holiday, you can expect to jump in the water 2-5 times a day. The advantage of being on EAN is longer bottom times. Thus, more time to explore that beautiful coral reef or admiring the sharks.
If you’re going on the same dive profile with your buddy, but your buddy is on air and you’re on Nitrox, there will be less nitrogen in your body, reducing the chance of decompression sickness (DCS) and improving your dive safety.
The absorbed nitrogen is the main cause of DCS. Symptoms can include fatigue and pain in muscles and joints.
There’s no scientific data but some divers feel less fatigue than with a normal air tank. If you suffer from headaches or cramps, having more oxygen intake may combat these issues.
If you’re traveling abroad and planning to go on repetitive dives, Enriched Air Nitrox is worth it. You’ll have more fun exploring the dive sites and know it’s safer with less Nitrogen in your body.
The PADI Enriched Air Nitrox course consists of e-learning and practical skills. The practical skills will cover analyzing Oxygen, marking tank, and setting dive computer.