Scuba Diving Is A Quiet Art… Sssshhh!

Diving is a quiet art…. Sssshhh!

There is a lot to love about scuba diving, one of the best being the hour to two hours of peace and quiet. However, this peace can be easily disturbed by the overuse of an audible signaling device.

What is an audible signaling device?

Also known as noisemakers, audible signaling devices are anything you can use either on the surface or underwater to attract attention. Examples of underwater audible signaling devices include:

  • Tank banger. This is basically a rubber band with a plastic bead on it that you slip around the bottom of your tank. Pulling and letting go of the bead against the tank is incredibly effective underwater, but not on the surface.
  • Scuba rattle stick. These have a small magnet inside that attaches to a housing so that they don’t rattle when they are attached.
  • Lobster tickle stick. This is used to bang on your tank to make noise.
  • Air-integrated dive alert alarm. If you need to effectively capture attention underwater and on the surface in the event of an emergency. The alarm sits between your inflator hose and inflator button and uses air to make noise. It’s hard to accidentally set these off!
How does this work? 

This may have been something you learned in your open water class, but sound underwater travels 4-5 times faster than it does in the air. The speed at which sound travels in the water is mainly affected by three factors:

  • Temperature. The colder the water, the slower the sound will travel.
  • Pressure. The deeper underwater you go, the more pressure there will be, and the faster that sound will travel.
  • Density. In this case, we are looking at salinity. The more saline-dense the water is, the faster sound will travel.

This is great for getting attention, but can also cause confusion because the switch between sound on land and underwater can be disorienting to the part of our brain that processes it.

To audibly signal, or not to audibly signal?

Picture this: you are on a dive trip in the Cayman Islands, and a diver in your group uses an audible signaling device every time they want to get another diver’s attention. This can be especially annoying, because not only can it disturb the sea life, but can also create confusion within the group.

Under normal circumstances, the only person who should really be making noise underwater is the dive guide, dive leader, or dive master. Basically, anyone whose responsibility it is to guide you through a dive and keep you safe while doing so. With large groups, there is no time for a guide to individually swim over to every diver and check their gas tank level. An audible signaling device can attract the attention of divers to check on such things. It’s also a great way to ensure that the group stays together.

A good diver is a quiet diver, but there are certain scenarios where the use of an audible signaling device is warranted, and even encouraged:

  • If your dive buddy is far away and not paying attention to you, you can make a couple of noises.
  • If you require the group’s attention because you saw something awesome that they haven’t seen yet
  • If you require everyone’s attention in an emergency
How to not be “that diver” with your audible signaling device 

Otherwise known as “that diver that ruins the dive for everyone else”. To avoid unnecessary use of your audible signaling device, there are other steps to get another diver’s attention. Always use a visual signal first. However, if that doesn’t work, you can swim over and give your buddy a squeeze on the shoulder.


Every diver should carry audible signaling devices, for both the surface and underwater. Nobody knows exactly when emergency situations could arise, making it especially crucial to be prepared. The key is to not overuse it and ruin the dive for others.




See our specific products used in the links above, and for a full list of the gear James keep in his dive bag, see his Gear List.
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Meet James Blackman

With a career in diving spanning twenty years, James has seen a thing or two in the dive industry. James grew up on the Southwest coast of Britain and learned to dive in the frigid waters of the English Channel. If your first dives were like being placed in a cocktail shaker full of cabbage soup and you come away with a love for the sport, then you know it’s going to be a life-long pursuit.

James spent his twenties in the British merchant marine which afforded him the opportunity to travel to and dive in far flung locales… 177 countries and counting. Between stints onboard a variety of vessels, James used his shore leaves to level up his scuba training… Rescue diver in Tanzania, DM in Indonesia, Instructor in Honduras, Tec Instructor in the French West Indies.

His last ship before moving to a shore-based life style was an expedition ship where he notched up some of his most impressive dives, including briefly holding the world record for most northerly scuba dive… 82 degrees north in the Russian arctic; diving the Amazon river; the Antarctic; and virgin reef systems in Papua New Guinea and Melanesia.

Moving ashore in his early thirties, James took on the role of General Manager for a luxury dive operator in St Martin and never had a dull moment! Hollywood visited the island and called upon James’ underwater skills for on-set safety. When Cat-3 hurricane Gonzalo devastated the area, James switched hats to salvage and public safety diver to help with the recovery.

Scuba Diving has given so much to James in his life… and first on that list is his brilliant wife Karina whom he met whilst teaching her AOW class! Yes, that old cliché! James and Karina are also business partners and co-owners of two power-house scuba brands. Miami Technical Diving has become the premiere scuba training facility in South Florida. Tired of seeing other dive shops compete in a ‘race to the bottom,’ James decided his model for teaching scuba would focus on keeping the quality as high as possible; using the best gear possible; teaching beyond the minimum standards on a 1-to-1 student-to-instructor ratio. The fullness of the MTD training calendar shows that people – student divers – prefer to receive premium, quality tuition, as opposed to cheap and fast.

James is the personality and knowledge broker behind ‘Divers Ready!’ a super influential Scuba Diving YouTube channelwebsite and brand. In just a year, Divers Ready! has become the fastest growing You Tube channel in the Scuba Diving niche, with 1000s of new divers joining every month. Their weekly videos range from Mouthpiece Mondays – where James shares his insider knowledge and opinions about controversial topics in the dive industry – to practical ‘hints & tutorial’ style videos, all with one simple goal in mind – to make you a better diver!

James and Karina started small group luxury dive trips for the Divers Ready! audience.

James and Karina live in Miami, FL with their rambunctious dogs; Ziggy The Husky and Bonham the Mutt, and their Maine Coon cat Foxy, who remains unimpressed.