Scuba Diver Communications
How do scuba divers now talk to
each other under water?
I am guessing that you are asking this question because
it is hard to imagine a scuba diver talking underwater
with a regulator in his/her mouth.
Most scuba divers communicate with each other with a
special sign language. This sign language is based on
ASL (American Sign Language), but has been adapted for
easier signing while underwater and in full gear.
However, there are special masks that are made for
scuba diving that do not require a mouth-fitted
regulator. You might have seen these on divers at an
aquarium where there is someone outside a tank
relaying questions to a diver, and then you can hear
the diver talking to the audience. This is just
simply through a two-way radio communication. The
diver has a walkie talkie built into his/her mask.
Divers outfitted in this way can talk to each other in
the ocean, too...not just in aquarium tanks.
Hope this answers your question.
Sound will travel underwater, but it is difficult to communicate with your
voice when your mouth is otherwise occupied (with the breathing tube!).
SCUBA divers use hand signals (thumb up for "I am ascending"; thumb down for
"I am descending"; hands across neck for "I am having difficulty
breathing"). Some SCUBA divers also carry an underwater board with a grease
pencil to write notes to their partners.
Todd Clark, Office of Science
US Department of Energy
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Update: June 2012