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19 Most Common Scuba Hand Signals You Need To Know

scuba hand signals
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When you’re underwater, everyone speaks the same language… with their hands!

Scuba hand signals are universal, meaning no matter where you dive around the globe, your buddies and guide should all be on the same page.


Scuba Diving Hand Signals

With anything done in life with a partner, communication is essential.  Scuba diving is no exception!

It’s important to be able to share your thoughts and critical information on a dive, such as, “Let’s go this way!”, “How much air do you have?” and “Wow! Did you see that shark!”

Communication also is vital when you are in an emergency situation, like running low on air, or if you need to finish a dive for any reason.

But there’s a problem… you can’t speak underwater! So, how do divers communicate? With their hands, of course.

This actually makes scuba diving a really accessible sport to enjoy all over the globe, because no matter if you are in Egypt diving the Red Sea, spotting hammerheads off Galapagos, or blowing bubbles in Raja Ampat, the dive community will share this common hand language so you can enjoy your dives knowing that communication is clear.

There are a whole host of scuba hand signals that you need to know. Some you’ll use on every dive, and some less often. Some relate to you, some your equipment, and others the animals and creatures you might see.

In this blog, we will look at the importance of hand signals in scuba diving and the top hand signals that every diver should know!


What Are The Hand Signals In Scuba Diving?

Everything is Okay!

ok scuba hand signals

To show that everything is ‘okay’ make this sign with your hand. This will also be used as a question to ask if you are okay by your buddy or instructor.


Something is wrong

problem scuba hand signals
If you have a problem, put your hand flat and shake it side to side. Then you point to what is causing the issue, so your buddy can help.


Going up/Ascend

going up scuba hand signals

A thumbs up in scuba isn’t a positive affirmation! Instead, it shows you want to end a dive and go up to the surface.


Going Down/Descend

going down scuba hand signals

A thumbs down isn’t a boo when we scuba! It means we are going down!



stop scuba hand signals

To get someone to stop – hold your palm out flat.


Turn Around

turn scuba hand signals

To turn around – you can spin your index finger in a circle.


Buddy Together

buddy up scuba hand signals

Putting the index fingers from each hand together is to tell you to get close to your dive buddy.

Level off at this depth

This full arm shows the depth you want to stay at.


Share air with me
share air scuba signal

To ask someone to share air, make this gesture and raise your palm to your regulator.

I’m out of air!

out of air scuba signal

This cut-across-the-throat signal would be made by your buddy in an emergency.  They would be likely swimming towards you ready to grab your spare octopus as they make the signal.


Emergency! Help me now!

In an emergency, a diver would wave their hands. You might need to respond to them as they could act erratically or make judgments that seem out-of-the-ordinary.


I don’t know

I don't know scuba signal
Just as it is above land, below water is still a shrug to show that you don’t know something!


I’m cold

cold scuba diving signal
If you get cold on a dive, then you can tell your buddy by rubbing your arms and making a little shivering motion! Then you can decide if you want to continue or end the dive to go and warm up!



look scuba hand signals

If your buddy wants you to look at something, they will do this motion of pointing to their eyes.



think scuba hand signals

Think! Point to your head – that’s where your brain is after all!


I can’t clear this ear OR have trouble equalizing

ear trouble scuba hand signals

If you’re having ear problems you would point to your ear to show your buddy. You can also combine it with the hand shake that means ‘I have a problem’


Animal Hand Signals


Everybody loves to see a cute turtle on a dive, they’re often found munching on sea grass. If you see you can share it with your buddy using this hand signal.



If you see a shark, then you can let other divers know by giving yourself a shark’s fin on top of your head! There are variations of this too, depending on different shark species.



Moray eels like to chill out in caves and holes in the coral, you might see one poking out its head. Make this scuba hand signal to imitate its wide gaping mouth if you see one.


Why Is It Important To Communicate Underwater When Scuba Diving?

When you’re underwater, things can go wrong fast, so it’s always important to remember how to be a good dive buddy and communicate well.

You don’t want to leave it to the point that it’s too late to tell them that you are running low on air and then end up in an emergency situation where you need to share air if you run out.

You also need to communicate to navigate properly, so you both can be sure you follow the dive plan properly.

Plus, sharing is fun! You’d be a pretty bad buddy if you didn’t tell your dive partner about the cool stuff you spot as you see it. Imagine how annoyed you’d be if your buddy tells you on the dive boat about the octopus, lionfish, and turtle they spotted and hadn’t told you about.


Let’s Go Diving! 

Come and practice your scuba hand signals on a dive with DivePoint on your next Riviera Maya trip. Whether it’s the ocean or cenotes, the water here is fantastic!

Click here to book your dive day!

We hope you liked this blog post on ‘Scuba Hand Signals for Diving’.

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