Divers in Thailand › PADI Scuba Hand Signals Chart
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 the common scuba diving hand signals (e.g. OK sign, numbers, air pressure, fish signs). You should always review divers sign language if you 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 standardised 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 scuba training agencies (e.g. BSAC, CMAS, SSI) in Thailand.
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 chart below if you will go diving with a new buddy.
It's quite common for a group of divers to have a coherent conversation underwater - even though they may speak different languages topside. This also applies to deaf divers who often enjoy entire conversations in the water.
In addition, some divers still use certain variants of dive talk on dry land. The adapted 'non-diving lingo' works for them even after they have surfaced.
Note: Being able to understand fingers and hand gesticulation underwater (and body movements) helps to reduce confusion, anxiety, and it increases safety.
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 a technique used to ask, and then confirm, that you are 'OK' in diver sign language (i.e. you are 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 - together with some funny body movements - to represent fish family species and other aquatic animals.
There is no standard PADI hand signals PDF used for communicating the different signals for fishes and sea life creatures.
Okay... no problem! So, here is a list of hand gestures and body motions that almost all divers will use to make fish signs underwater:
Because PADI® scuba courses are performance-based, students need to meet certain objectives and requirements to be certified. As a result, the instructor will use diving hand signs to communicate the following "phrases" during the training:
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors has introduced a new standardised hand signal for "I don't feel well" in their scuba courses for divers. They have made the signal simple to perform.
If you find yourself feeling physically unwell underwater, point your fingers toward yourself and draw a large oval in front of your head and torso.
A new diving hand signal is helping to raise awareness about the worldwide problem with plastic pollution. Creating the letter "P" for Plastic - using two hands - serves as a reminder to "Leave Only Bubbles" in our oceans and seas.
Note: Another section contains information about the Dive Against Debris Diver Specialty course and how to turn a passion into real and meaningful action.
It is not always obvious to determine the exact direction of sounds while you are below the surface. But, in most cases, you should be able to hear the noises that boat engines make.
Moreover, understanding boat propeller safety rules is of utmost importance for all divers and snorkelers – especially beginners.
Important: Sound travels about four times faster in water than it does in air. Even so, wearing a neoprene dive hood may affect a diver's hearing thresholds.
Most divers will use the PADI hand signals PDF for guidance. But, some may differ (e.g. when using agency crossovers and equivalents).
Buddies communicate by pressing one (1) finger on their arm to represent 1,000 PSI. Lifting one (1) finger up indicates 100 PSI of air pressure remains in their tank.
Note: If a diver presses one finger to their arm, followed by four fingers held up, they will be showing that they have 1,400 pound-force per square inch (PSI) left.
To be able to talk while submerged, there needs to be a transducer attached to the face mask. This device can convert voice sounds into an ultrasound signal.
Assuming your fellow diver has an ultrasound receiver, they will be able to accept the signal. Converting it back to a sound that they can hear allows for underwater chatter and communication.
Note: Another section explains more about how scuba divers communicate at the surface and when using underwater recall systems.
Scuba accessories and underwater gadgets come in all shapes and sizes. Many of them are used purely for personal comfort and enjoyment.
But, carrying a few basic devices will increase your safety and make it easier to get someone's attention in an emergency.
Divers share a common responsibility to protect and conserve nature. As a result, passive interaction with aquatic animals helps to safeguard delicate and sensitive sea life.
Some simple diver errors progress from mere frustration and embarrassment, to costly financial mistakes, and even worse.
But, there are common mistakes beginners make on a regular basis - and some experienced professionals do too!
Note: The short video [2:36 seconds] emphasises the importance of underwater communication for safe scuba diving. Learn how to convey a clear message to your dive buddy even when there is a regulator in your mouth.