Since I’m headed to Australia soon, I was thinking about the differences in Diving between the US and Australia. The biggest difference, is probably in the Flags used by divers. I always thought most people recognized the Red and White Diver Down flag. However, after doing a shore dive off Magnetic Island on one of my trips home, where some British Backpackers tried to kill me with their jetski by doing doughnuts around our dive flag, I worked out that perhaps it wasn’t as universal as I thought.
Turns out in countries like Australia, the Signal Flag Alpha is the more recognized flag. At least out in the open water. It’s a Universal Maritime flag that means that a vessel has limited maneuverability due to a diver in the water. Of course, this probably doesn’t help a couple of British backpackers who have rented a jetski for the day. They probably wouldn’t have recognized either flag, since all one needs to rent a jetski is a land drivers license. Maybe when operators rent Jetskis, they should be required to inform renters of Dive flags, to avoid potential accidents. Next time you go diving, check out which flags are being used locally. Even in Australia, it seems Dive Operators that cater to International Tourists use the Diver Down flag. It’s on their shop window, on their T-shirts, painted on their boats. But they may still fly the Signal Flag Alpha while out diving. In the US, most people only use the Diver Down flag.
There’s nothing that says you can’t use both. So next time you’re out diving, feel free to use both flags. Then, whether you’re dealing with locals or tourists, hopefully they’ll recognize one of them, and steer clear of you.