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Most Common Diving Signals

Diving signals are communication that divers use underwater with their hands, because communication underwater without special and expensive equipment is impossible.

Without realizing people use a lot of hand or body gestures to express themselves. Movements like shrugging the shoulders for "I don't know", nodding the head for "Yes" and shaking the head for "no" are very common in our society. Also couples who have lived together  for a while can communicate with body, eyes and hands and they don't need to speak to understand each other.

All the signals were created for better understanding between divers, because going every time to the surface to communicate is dangerous and some time there is no time for writing everything on a slate. The signals were also introduced by military divers in the early years of scuba diving.

Today it is mandatory to know them before a dive. All diving agencies or organizations around the globe teach their divers hand signals, making some of them to vary from region to region. That's the reason why it is a good practice to always review the diving signals when diving with friends and strangers during the dive briefing.

Many times divers have to create a new set of hand signal depending on the different circumstances of the dive. The important thing is to always prevent the unpreventable and always stay safe.

Demonstration of Diving Signals

Please hover the mouse over the diving signals for demonstration. Some signals do not need the animation or we are currently working on them.

Also Important Underwater

OK Signal At The Surface

With the same meaning that the OK signal but it is used only at the surface and from a distance, because hand signals are difficult to see from far. Also you could use both arms and make it more visible from a distance.

Problem Signal At The Surface
Problem signal at the surface

With the same meaning as the "Problem Signal", it is used only at the surface and better if you use both arms. But if you are holding something in one hand this is the proper signal.

Ascend at

Ascend at certain depth. Must be followed by "Numbers Signal".

Descend at

Descend at certain depth. Must be followed by a "Numbers Signal".

Get Together
Diving signal For Get Together or partners together

This diving signal represents get together with your partner or group. It also means partner together. Example: this signal and "Question Signal" together means Where is your partner?

One Leads. The Other's Follow
Diving signal For I Lead You Follow.

Both hands are used first as "Pointing Signals". One hand to one diver and the second hand will point at the other, and the result is: I lead, you follow or you lead and I follow..

The Turnaround Signal
No Air Signal

This signal must be done by pointing the index finger up and moving the finger or hand in a circular motion.

Repeat Signal
No Air Signal

This signal must be done by moving the finger or hand in a circular motion horizontally. This should not be confused with the turn-around signal.

Hover Signal
Diving signal For Hover or stay neutral.

You will see this signal if you kick the bottom with your fins. It means you must Hover or correct your hover/buoyancy. Both hands must move at the same time horizontally.

On Your Knees Signal
Diving signal For On Your Knees.

Used during courses and when divers need to wait on the sand.

3 Minutes Safety Stop
3 Minutes safety stop

At this level... 3 minutes safety stop. The number can change depending on the time required for the safety stop.

Which way with a compass

When using a compass, this signal is asking which direction to proceed.

Signal For Narcosis Symptoms
Narcosis Simtoms

Unable to make decision, impaired judgment and feeling funny due to the depth. Notify your partner.

Ear Problem
Ear Problem

Used at the surface as - I can?t hear you. Underwater, ear problem or problem to equalize. This signal has to be combined with "Problem Signal".



Other Diving Signals

Beside the signals used underwater, at the surface there are other diving signals that you should know about.

Diving Flag Animated

The diver down flag: indicates that there is a diver below. No other boats are allowed and there is a second, larger zone in which boat's speed is limited. The flag can be placed on a boat or on a buoy. And in some countries it must go down when all divers are out of the water. Today this flag represents scuba diving worldwide.

Diving Flag Animated

The Alfa Flag:in international shipping communications every letter of the alphabet is represented by a colored flag. This flag represents the letter "A" Alfa. By itself means "Diver Down; Keep Clear at slow speed". The flag must be flown from any vessel that has diving operations going on which restricts ship's maneuvers.

Dive Decom Signal.

Surface marker buoys (SMB): Good for signaling boat drivers of your location while performing the safety stop or ascending. SMB makes boat drivers see you from far at the surface. The Yellow SMB it is used more commonly in tech-diving and means emergency underwater/ need assistance (for those divers that have to spend hours on decompression stops).



Suggest a diving signal that we are missing and we will work on it.

Test your knowledge of diving signals

Diving Signals Quiz

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