An orange glow spans the horizon, the ocean is mirror flat and the air is filled with nature’s morning symphony. It seems as if the world is waking up with you. As you delve into your morning meditation, the sun begins to peak over the horizon. You take another sip of your perfectly made, robust coffee and think to yourself, ‘This is beautiful. Life is beautiful. What a perfect day to go diving.’ As you go for another sip of your coffee…
It’s a full spray of sunscreen: half in your coffee, half in your face. It’s that guy again. You know, that guy who manages to ruin everyone’s dive trip, at all times, in every possible way.
With tips for both in and out of the water, here is Blue Marlin’s, “Guide to Diving Etiquette or: How not to be that guy“:
Be on time:
If you can afford to go scuba diving, you can afford a watch (or a phone…c’mon y’all…it’s 2016). Wear it, use it, love, it, don’t be late. Everyone is excited to get into the water, don’t be the reason your group is diving the champagne bubbles of the 6 groups that got to the site before you.
Looking for your left bootie and haven’t seen your mask in a while? Don’t let your dive bag explode the moment you get on the boat. Keep your gear neatly together so that you don’t scramble around trying to find your stuff while everyone else patiently waits (and cooks!) in their full gear. Plus, nobody will hurt themselves falling over/accidentally breaking your equipment.
Be Sunscreen Conscious:
Spray-on sunscreen is a great way to protect your skin, but please consider the wind angle before you spray everyone else, too. Nobody likes their eyes full of ‘screen. Also, make sure to apply ocean-friendly products at least 40 minutes before you go in the water. Coral doesn’t need protection from the sun and the ocean’s aquatic life finds washed off sunscreen quite toxic.
It’s Not A Contest:
Resist the urge to always “one-up” a story. Talk about a great diving experience and we’ll all listen with interest, but please don’t try and Trump everyone’s tales with more, bigger, better. Moreover, don’t come up from every dive complaining that your last trip was far superior to any diving anyone has ever done. It’s disrespectful to everybody who just came to the surface thoroughly satisfied. Some divers might become disappointed that they haven’t seen the octopus high-fiving a manta or a whale shark dancing with a mermaid. Let others gauge their experience through their own eyes and try not to ruin it for them.
Listen To The Professionals:
Please listen to the briefings of your dive professional and follow the instructions from the crew. You may very well have the highest certifications and be the most knowledgeable, physically fit, worldly, experienced, omniscient diver who has ever blown bubbles underwater, but here you are not in charge. You do not dive these waters every day. There may be some latent dangers we want to clue you in on. Or a really cool hiding spot for Rhinopia. Maybe we do something just a little bit different than you’ve seen before. Sit back, relax and pay attention.
Always do a buddy check. Oh, you’ve done hundreds of dives before and nothing has ever gone wrong? That’s great. You still want/need to check your gear. Funny thing, it’s the only thing that keeps you alive underwater. Ask an instructor: We’ve all done a negative entry without our air on. It was our fault. It was stupid. It was harrowing. Don’t let it happen to you.
You haven’t greased the o-ring for your camera and need somebody to show you how to do it properly? Can’t figure out how to adjust your dive computer’s Nitrox percentage? No problem… but there’s a time for that. If you have tasks you need to accomplish before or in between dives, maybe don’t spend the entire surface interval sleeping up top. Don’t wait until we’re fully briefed, kitted, sweating, swearing and circling the island while you fiddle with equipment.
Look. Don’t Touch:
Once underwater, please don’t chase fish, grab on to turtles or collect nudibranchs. You wouldn’t run around Tokyo chasing and grabbing everyone and everything that fascinates you. (Or at least we sincerely hope not.) Barrel sponges are not there to be handholds. Oh, and it’s called a pointer stick – not a poking stick. Respect the underwater world.
Wait Your Turn:
If your Divemaster points out something interesting, don’t rush to the area like it’s a free wine-tasting or shoe-sale where it’s perfectly acceptable to shove the elderly or kids out of the way. Move slowly, take turns and let everyone have a look at it. Similarly, if you have a camera, please let the other divers check it out first before you work on getting that perfect shot. Once the other divers have gotten a glimpse, let the Vogue-ing begin.
Follow Me Around:
Please follow your guide. This isn’t really an option. By “doing your own thing”, you stress out your dive instructor, forcing them to play babysitter instead of being able to find cool things for you to look at. You may miss key features of the site and no one likes to hear a guide bang on their tank at you for 30 min of the dive. Including your guide.
Keep Us In The Know:
How much air do you have left? Yes, you. I’m pretty pretty prettttaaaayyyy sure I’ve asked how much air you have like 5 times. Oh? It’s a secret that you’ll share when you’re ready? No! It’s not a nice surprise to let us know you’re low on air at 28 meters. Plus, if you are honest with us, we can easily change our dive plan to help extend your dive. Same goes for those who tell us they have over half a tank only for us to peek and see you are actually at 70 BAR. Keep the honest information flowing and let us maximise your dive.
To bring a camera or not to bring a camera? If you are a new diver and you’re not too sure about your buoyancy, we are begging you: don’t bring a camera – even if it’s a GoPro! (GoPro Fever is a very real affliction that makes otherwise great divers forget everything they’ve learned about buoyancy and etiquette.) Get a couple of dives in first, improve your skills and then film anything you want. Fellow divers will be thankful and your friends won’t get sea sick from the shaky images you bring up from underwater. If you are already an experienced diver: holding a camera does not give you the license to behave like a crazy triggerfish, hunting everything till you run out of air, or worse: lying all over the coral. Also, ensure you are still paying attention to the group so that you don’t fall behind or subject the rest of the group to a 30-minute photo sesh at a single anemone.
People Pee In Their Wetsuit:
If you pee in your wetsuit, wash it yourself. We get it, but we can also smell it on the boat. Plus, we really don’t want to clean it up. Go for a little rinse by taking off your wetsuit before you get back on the boat. When you are back in the shop, just give it a little dunk. We really appreciate it. Seriously, really really really appreciate it.
Respect The Local Way Of Life:
And finally: (not so much diving etiquette, but just in general) Foreign countries are going to be different from home. That’s why most of us travel. Please respect the locals and their customs. If you aren’t sure, ask someone who lives there. A bikini may be suitable attire walking down the street in Gili Trawangan but would be completely disrespectful to the local community of Labuan Bajo at Komodo. Understand that you are in a remote place in the world and WiFi isn’t always guaranteed oftentimes due to things out of our control: see wind, power cuts, bad days. (We’re serious.) Act as a guest in another person’s home and you’ll be sure to realise what a wonderful host Indonesia can be.