Learning to communicate while diving

During your intro to diving, you’ll learn the first key hand gestures that will stand you in good stead for as long as you keep diving. Knowing how to say “everything is okay” or “something’s wrong” is essential so that your first dive goes smoothly. While these hand signs aren’t necessarily obvious, they’re easy and are learned gradually, just like a new language, and will in time become automatic every time you head under the surface. The more dives you log, the faster your underwater vocabulary will grow. While it’s essential to use the gestures exactly as you’ve learned them so that the rest of your dive group will understand you, it’s also important for you to understand them and to analyse them when a diver turns to you for information. If necessary, your instructor may bring an underwater slate to help with your language lessons. Now, let’s have a look at the different signs that you’ll need in order to communicate while diving. 

Hand signs while diving 

The hand sign for "I'm fine/OK"

I'm fine/ok

I'M FINE/OK

Something's wrong

SOMETHING'S WRONG

The hand sign for "something's wrong"
Hand signs while diving
The hand sign for "I'm out of breath"

I'm out of breath

I'M OUT OF BREATH

I'm cold

I'M COLD

The hand sign for "I'm cold"
The hand sign for "out of air"

Out of air

OUT OF AIR

Stabilize yourself

STABILIZE YOURSELF

The hand sign for "stabilize yourself"
Hand signs while diving
The hand sign for "breath"

Breath

BREATH

Stay together

STAY TOGETHER

The hand sign for "stay together"
The hand sign for "boat"

Boat

BOAT

Dizziness

DIZZINESS

The hand sign for "dizziness"
The hand sign for "narcosis"

Narcosis

NARCOSIS

Communicating about marine life

In addition to signing about safety and dive parameters, it’s also fun to be able to talk about the underwater flora and fauna that you encounter. While not every aquatic plant or animal can be described with this diving vocabulary, the species that are most widely encountered and sought after by divers all have a clearly established sign. Since form and meaning are key parts of our underwater dialogue, you’ll easily be able to make the visual link between the designated object and its corresponding sign, which generally depicts a physical characteristic. Learning these signs will help you to more easily spot the fauna and flora that your partner or instructor may be pointing out to you, or vice versa. Here are some of the most commonly used signs for communicating about underwater flora and fauna (obviously, these signs may be different depending on the person or country!) 

OTHER SIGNS COME TO MIND? DON'T HESITATE TO MENTION THEM IN OUR COMMENTS! ~~HAPPY DIVING! ~~ 

Baptiste, Subea digital manager

Baptiste

Digital manager - padi rescue and level 1 ffessm

I'm Subea's Digital Manager. I'm passionate about spear fishing and free diving, and have been scuba diving for over fifteen years. I dive alone down to 60 meters.