Private Scuba › PADI Scuba Diving Hand Signals
Divers will find our review of PADI underwater scuba hand signs and symbols a useful resource. They make up the language and gestures used in diver communication.
The chart lists all the common scuba diving hand signals (e.g. OK sign, numbers). You should always review diver sign language when planning to dive with an unfamiliar buddy.
Divers cannot speak through the mouthpiece of a conventional scuba regulator.
You would need an electronic system or a full face dive mask to have a reasonable conversation by voice while submerged.
Instead, we use PADI dive signals and hand movements underwater to interact with each other.
PADI diver training teaches you how to communicate and get attention underwater using standardized scuba signals or plastic writing slates.
Even so, it is worth noting that surface and underwater diving signs do vary among many of the different training agencies (e.g. BSAC, CMAS, SSI).
Therefore, it is prudent to review common hand gestures and an appropriate emergency recall system during your pre-dive safety check (e.g. BWRAF). Furthermore, you should always review the basic scuba diving hand signals if you go diving with a new buddy.
Important: Being able to understand finger and hand gesticulation underwater (or body movements) increases safety and it helps to reduce confusion and anxiety.
We use a set of established PADI dive signals and common arm gestures on all dives as part of the scuba diving buddy system.
The okay hand sign is one of the most used of all body signs underwater. It is the method of confirming that you are 'OK' in sign language (feeling fine).
Hence, displaying a circle created by your thumb and forefinger underwater, or at the surface, means you do not have a problem.
But wait - there's more:
We also use basic PADI hand signals to show our intended direction (e.g. let's go up, go down, or stop). Whereas, other scuba signals that divers use, will show:
Using your fingers is an efficient way of indicating numbers underwater, such as when showing how much air you have remaining in the tank.
Apart from the recognised PADI dive signals, most divers use some really cool scuba hand signals and funny body movements to represent fish family species and other aquatic animals.
There is no standardized PADI PDF that signifies the different hand signs for fish and marine animals. But, here are a few hand gestures that almost all divers will use on a regular basis: