Hand Signals & Sign Language Are what the Most of Scuba Divers Communicate Under the water.

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My Grandfather, Father, and I had an amazing time with Lutwala Dive Gili Trawangan! They took us to the Turtle City where there are countless sea turtles. I’ve traveled around the world including numerous dive sites, so I know how important it was for all of us to understand the fact that gestures, signs, and hand signals are highly valuable while being underwater! Hand signals & signs are truly essential to communicating underwater, especially being out in the deep sea. Pay attention to how we communicate underwater and see if you can catch some gestures!

“Diver communications” are the methods used by divers to communicate with each other or with surface members of the dive team.

I learned that there are several distinct forms of diver communications, however, I’d like you guys to focus on non-verbal communications:

Hand signals – Recreational divers do not usually have access to voice communication equipment, and it does not generally work with a standard scuba demand valve, so they use other signals. Hand signals are generally used when visibility allows, and there are a range of commonly used signals, with some variations. These signals are often also used as an alternative by professional divers

Line signals (rope pulls) – Rope signals can be used if the diver is connected to another diver or tender by a rope or umbilical. There are a few partly standardised codes using “pulls” and “bells” (a pair of short tugs). These are mostly used as backup signals by professional divers in the event that voice communications fails, but can be useful to recreational and particularly technical divers, who can use them on their surface marker buoy lines to signal to the surface support crew.

Light signals – Made using an underwater torch at night. There are not many standard light signals. Suitably skilled divers can transmit morse code using a light.

Cave line symbols – these are symbols attached to cave lines, indicating critical information such as the direction to the exit.

Sign language Divers who are familiar with a sign language such as American sign language and equivalents may find it useful underwater, but there are limitations due to the difficulty of performing some of the gestures intelligibly underwater with gloved hands and often while trying to hold something.

Tap codes – made by knocking on the walls, are used occasionally to communicate with divers trapped in a sealed bell or the occupants of a submersible during a rescue.

Rattle – a tube containing ball bearings used by guides of large groups to attract attention.

Miscellaneous emergency signals – Including the use of mirrors, compressed air sirens, whistles, noisemakers, colour-coded Delayed Surface Marker Buoys etc., to alert the surface support personnel of a problem

Diver down signals – The dive flags, lights and shape signals used to indicate the presence of divers in the water.

Pretty cool, right? If you’re interested in getting your scuba certification but are unable to in another country like this one in Gili Islands, Lombok, Indonesia, please consider checking out Aqua Hands, LLC.

In the United States you can always take a course with Aqua Hands, LLC! It’s a Deaf-owned, Deaf-run business, so you can learn through sign language. The people with Aqua Hands, LLC. are well educated and would be the perfect people to learn from and ask further questions!


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