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The Scuba Snobs’ Dive Etiquette Tip of the Week Tip #8: Use a dive flag

If you are an accomplished enough diver to go off on your own with a buddy and dive, it is important for you to use a dive flag.

Dear fellow divers,

You learned that in your first certification class. The flag is on a float of some kind, and is attached to a line on a reel that a member of the dive group holds, or sometimes ties off during the dive. Use of a dive flag can be an inconvenience, but it is important because it lets boaters know to stay away (hopefully they will), lets others know where you are, and allows people on the surface to get your attention if there is a need to do so. The dive flag should be mounted on a float that is easily visible from a passing boat and keeps the flag unfurled and above the water.



If you tie off your flag, only tie it to dead things. Do not tie it off on a branch of living coral or to living plants. Find a rock, a dead coral head, or a post or mooring block, anything that is not living. And if you tie off your flag, stay in reasonable proximity to it so that it is performing its functions of marking your location and keeping boat hazards away from you. Also remember to retrieve your flag and bring it in when you are finished at that site for the day. A dive flag left out in the water can be a hazard to navigation, to snorkelers, paddle boarders and other divers, and can give someone a false impression that there are missing or distressed divers in the water. You don’t want to trigger a search for you and your buddy because your dive flag is out in the water and someone actually noticed it.

It should go without saying ( but we’ll say it anyway) that if you come another diver’s flag, do not move it and do not take it or the line and reel to which it is attached. To do so would violate the rule about not touching other people’s stuff, which was tip # 4. Some things are just not cool and can be dangerous, like messing with another diver’s dive flag. Good etiquette always requires that we do all we can to avoid putting another diver in danger, and that means leaving their flag and reel alone.


If you are thinking of diving without a flag, you are making a bad choice. In addition to the dangers apparent in not using one, many locations provide for a substantial fine if you are caught diving without one. Fines vary from $50.00 ( Florida) to up to $1000.00 (Hawaii.) Be safe, be legal, use a dive flag. Happy Diving everyone!

The Scuba Snobs