Currents bring nutrients to the reef, but they can cause havoc for divers. See our tips and points to bear in mind for diving when current is present.
Swirling Currents © Life Is A Wonder
On the surface.
- Buoyancy. Make sure you are positively buoyant. Inflate your BCD and remember you can drop your weights too.
- Don’t swim against it. Swimming into current will quickly tire you. Swim across its direction. Remember if it’s a rip current pushing you away from shore, swim along parallel with the shore, and you will find where the current dissipates so that you can get back in.
- Ask for help. Don’t struggle. Signal for assistance and get a pickup.
- Descend. Currents are weaker underwater and closer to the bottom. Descending might not be the best solution depending on how far you have to go, your air reserves, bottom depth, and overhead traffic but if it’s prudent to do so, it will be easier to cover the distance underwater.
Read our tips for staying safe on the surface and how to make yourself seen on the surface.
- Conditions. Consider an alternate site if the current is too strong.
- Be alert. Fish always swim facing the current so they will give you a good indication of both direction and strength as you can look at how furiously they are swimming to hold their position. Pay attention if they change direction and particularly if they are swimming upwards as this will signify a down current. Look at soft corals, fans, and divers bubble streams too as they move with currents.
- Head in. Unless you are drift diving, then you will want to start your dive into the current. This way you are making the hardest part of your dive first, using your air faster too. On the way back you will go with the current and use less air.
- Technique. If you have to swim against the current take it slowly and take rests where you can find something to hold onto. Remember the
- current will be weaker closer to the bottom and closer to the reef or wall, so stay close to make your progress easier.
- Down Currents. Being pushed deeper by current is scary. Inflate your BCD to slow your descent and do remember down currents are usually localised too. Swim away from where you are being pushed down, which is generally away from the wall or reef, and you will find a lessening and weaker current. If all else fails, drop your weights, once you are out of the current however, you will start to ascend too quickly. Remember to dump all of the air out of your BCD and flare yourself out and kick down to slow your ascent. Don’t forget to breathe and signal for help as soon as you surface. You might need emergency oxygen, but this scenario is better than being pushed to depth.
- End the dive. If the conditions have changed while you are underwater and have become too much, end your dive. If you are in the unfortunate situation of being swept from the dive site, you need to surface and get assistance. Read our tips on what to do if you find yourself alone underwater.