When you are underwater for long periods of time it is difficult to let your wishes be known. One of the most basic and yet crucial things to master when learning to dive is how to communicate underwater. Although the technology to do so through devices exists, it is far too expensive for commercial use. As such, the means by which divers 'talk' to one another is through the use of hand signals as demonstrated in this gallery.
ARE YOU OKAY/I AM OKAY
This hand signal seems like a no-brainer but is on this list because it is important. In many diving situations it will be used in the form of a question as if to say “are you okay?”
LET US GO DOWN
The down signal is used to tell a fellow diver you plan on descending further. It is always important to let others know where you will be.
This signal is used by dive instructorsand leaders to signal a particular group of people to pair up or to remind a group to stay close together.
BUBBLES HAND SIGNAL
This signal is used to alert a diver that either they have a leak or “bubbles” OR that the diver they are alerting does. In this situation it is important to react calmly.
THIS WAY SIGNAL
The simplest way to signal direction is by gesturing with the palm. Move the wrist to emphasize.
SAFETY STOP SIGNAL
This signal is used to indicate that a safety stop is needed. This is especially used when ascending at the end of a dive to avoid decompression sickness. The three fingers three minutes will be the duration of the stop (recommended time).
UP HAND SIGNAL
The opposite of the “down” signal, the up signal lets other divers know you are ready to begin ascending. It is not a way of telling people they are your “friend” like in elementary school.
DECOMPRESSION STOP SIGNAL
Like a safety stop, a decompression stop is sometimes necessary to avoid the “bends” although it typically lasts at least 15 minutes. This is the signal for it.
It is crucial to be able to communicate the need to stop for a moment and there are two widely used ways to do so. The first is the way a traffic officer would do it which is by extending the palm and the second by making a small fist.