When diving, you’re like a fish underwater, moving along calmly and peacefully in three dimensions. The “silent world” is open to you, but however much you enjoy the peace and quiet of the aquatic world, you’ll still need to communicate with your dive group in order to carry out your dive safely. Since verbal communication is impossible underwater, an international set of hand signs has been developed. While nowhere near as extensive and complex as the sign language used by the hard of hearing, a diver’s dialect includes simple and accurate gestures that are easily identifiable. These are generally used for communicating about safety and dive parameters. Learn about the different divers’ hand signs with Subea.


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 the most 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 divers 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 them, 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.


ok hand signs diving communication subea

I'm fine / Okay

something's wrong hand signs communication diving subea

Something's wrong

hand signs diving communication tips subea

out of breath hand signs communication diving subea

I'm out of breath

cold hand signs communication diving subea

I'm cold

out of air hand signs diving communication subea

Out of air

stabilize yourself hand signs diving communication subea

Stabilize yourself

hand signs diving communication tips subea

breath hand signs diving communication subea


stay together hand signs diving communications subea

Stay together

boat hand signs diving communication subea


dizziness hand signs diving communication subea


narcosis hand signs diving communication subea



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 buddy or instructor may be pointing out to you, or vice versa.

ray hand signs diving communication subea



If the time comes when you want to be more independent or to go even deeper, or if you’re interested in speciality dives, you’ll have to head back to the classroom in order to expand your vocabulary of hand gestures. You’ll learn about signs that you would never have guessed, and you may even end up inventing some of your own! With enough practice, you’ll become a diving dialect specialist without even realising it.

Other signs come to your mind ? Don't hesitate to mention it in our comments ! Enjoy your dives !!  

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