03 Apr

Underwater communication sign – a global language


In the past few months, while working in the the Menjangan, I have taught numerous DSDs, Open Water Course and Advanced Open Water Courses with people from around the world: Chinese, Russian, German, French, Australian, Kazakhstan, Syria are just some among many different nationalities.

English is the language in which we communicate between each other but, for most of the guests, including me; English is our second language which tends to create some really funny situations.

My most recent students were Russians. An incredible family from Siberia on their first holiday outside Russia. After 2 dives in the Discover Scuba Diving course at Menjangan Island, they signed up for their Open Water Course.  It has been an incredible adventure between the oldest daughter Nastia, who was the translator, the family and I. Let’s just say these translations created a lot of good laughs.

However, there were situations where language didn’t matter:

For example, while spending quite a long time preparing the equipment doing the Confined Water part of the OWC, Sveta swam towards me underwater giving me an obvious sign, however-not usually found in the OWC manual, holding two fingers to her mouth signifying: I need my cigarette. When I got to the younger kid of the family, Sonia, she had to perform a skill and she gave me a sign which meant: I am hungry. Even though Sveta and Sonia did not speak a word of English, we still understood each other underwater, so I ascended to the surface with the students for a break.

Most of the instructors can tell when their students or divers are scared. Rarely would you think someone would signal to their instructor they are though. Believe it or not, after the certification of the family, they asked me to experience a Night Dive. We ended up doing a half day/half night dive. As it started to get darker, Sonia looked at me, dropped her regulator and brought her hand to her mouth like if she was biting her nails. As soon as she cleared her regulator, she gave me the “Peace” sign as a “No worries I am having a blast!”

Finally, the cutest sign I have ever seen underwater, ended up as one big miscommunication. Evgenii who wanted to blow a kiss to his wife underwater but she mistook tis gesture for a “share air” signal and no surprisingly; Sveta immediately swam to him and gave him alternate air source thinking he was in an “Out of air” situation. Poor Evgenii just wanted to be romantic 🙂


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