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Scuba diver

State law requires that scuba divers or snorkelers display a divers-down warning device whenever they are in the water. A divers-down warning device may not be displayed when divers are out of the water.

  • A divers-down warning device may be a divers-down flag, buoy, or other similar warning device. These devices are designed for, and used by, divers and dive vessels as a way to notify nearby boaters that divers are in the water in the immediate area. The device must be displayed prominently when in use. The divers-down warning device must meet these requirements.
    • The divers-down warning device must contain a divers-down symbol.
      • The symbol is a red rectangle or square with a white diagonal stripe.
      • If the symbol is rectangular, the length may not be less than the height or more than 25% longer than the height.
      • The width of the stripe must be 25% of the height of the symbol.
      • If multiple stripes are displayed, all of the stripes must be oriented in the same direction.
    • The size of the divers-down symbol depends on whether the divers-down warning device is displayed from the water or from a vessel.
      • On the water, the divers-down symbol must be at least 12 x 12 inches in size.
      • On a vessel, the symbol must be at least 20 x 24 inches in size. The divers-down warning device also must be displayed at the highest point of a vessel so that its visibility is not obstructed in any direction.
    • If the divers-down warning device is a divers-down flag, the flag must:
      • Display the divers-down symbol on each face and…
      • Have a wire stiffener or be otherwise constructed to ensure it remains fully unfurled and extended, even when there is no wind or breeze.
    • If the divers-down warning device is a buoy, the buoy must:
      • Have three or four sides with the divers-down symbol displayed on each of the flat sides and…
      • Be prominently visible on the water’s surface and not displayed on the vessel.
  • Boaters must make reasonable efforts to stay at least 300 feet away from divers-down warning devices in open water and at least 100 feet away in rivers, inlets, or navigation channels.
  • Boaters approaching divers-down warning devices closer than 300 feet in open water and 100 feet in rivers, inlets, or navigation channels must slow to idle speed.

Two types of flags are used to indicate diving activity.

Divers Flag

Divers Flag
The "divers-down" flag is a square or rectangular red flag (if on vessels, at least 20 x 24 inches; at least 12 x 12 inches on towed buoys) with a white diagonal stripe and with wire or other stiffener to hold it unfurled and extended.

Alfa Flag

Alfa Flag
A blue and white International Code Flag A (or Alfa flag), at least 3.3 feet (one meter) high and visible from all directions, must be displayed on vessels on federally controlled waters. This flag indicates that the vessel is involved in a diving activity.

Scuba divers or snorkelers should not place the warning device where it will obstruct traffic or create a hazard to navigation on a river, inlet, or navigation channel. In open waters, divers and snorkelers must make reasonable efforts to stay within 300 feet of their divers-down warning device; in rivers, inlets, or navigation channels, the distance from the device should be within 100 feet. The divers-down warning device must be removed when scuba divers or snorkelers are not in the water.