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Marine Life Hand Signals

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Underwater communication presents a fascinating challenge for scuba divers, as speech is rendered ineffective in the depths. To overcome this limitation, divers have perfected the art of nonverbal communication, employing a variety of intricate hand signals to hold comprehensive conversations. These signals serve as a conduit for sharing navigation instructions, teaching essential dive skills, and even alerting fellow divers to the presence of plastic marine debris. However, the most exhilarating aspect lies in mastering marine life hand signals.

Enigmatic questions arise - what constitutes the universal shark signal? How does one covertly signal their dive buddy about the presence of a sea lion nearby? To unravel these mysteries and enrich every diver's experience, we present a selection of captivating marine life hand signals that every underwater explorer should aspire to learn.


  • SHARK: Hold the side of your hand against your forehead

  • HAMMERHEAD: Place your fists on either side of your head

  • MANTA RAY: Flap both of your arms like you’re flying

  • BLEU-SPOTTED RAY: Use your finger to tap random points on the back of your other hand

  • DOLPHIN: Ripple and move your index finger to mimic the way a dolphin swims

  • LEAL / SEA-LION: Make a clapping motion with both of your arms extended

  • TURTLE: Place one hand on top of the other and rotate your thumbs


  • OCTOPUS: Wiggle your downturned fingers like they’re tentacles

  • SEAHORSE: Move both hands up and down like you’re riding a hobby horse

  • MORAY EEL: Tap the fingers and thumb of one hand together

  • CRAB: The same as for moray eel, but do it with both hands turned sideways

  • LOBSTER: Do a scissor-like motion with your index and middle finger, on both hands

  • SHRIMP: Point your index fingers upwards on either side of your forehead

  • NUDIBRANCH: Create a “v” shape with your fingers and wiggle the ends

  • JELLYFISH: Move your hand while opening and closing your fingers like tentacles


  • STONEFISH: Make a fist and place it on the palm of your other hand

  • NAPOLEON WRASSE: Hold your fist against your forehead

  • LIONFISH: Interlock your fingers and wiggle them

  • SCORPIONFISH: Like lionfish, but put your hands on top of your head

  • TRUMPETFISH: Hold and move your fingers like you’re playing the trumpet

  • TUNA: Create a turning motion with one hand against the other, as if you’re opening a can

  • BARRACUDA: With one hand, do a chopping motion along your other arm

  • ANGELFISH: Draw a hoop (halo) shape above your head with your finger

  • TRIGGERFISH: Point and bend your index finger, similar to pulling a trigger

  • PUFFERFISH: Clasp your hands and move them toward and away from each other

  • CROCODILEFISH: Put your palms together, then open and close them at the fingertips


  • Add a cradling motion before the regular hand signal to indicate a juvenile


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תגובה אחת

S. B.
S. B.
05 באוג׳ 2023

This blog post is both entertaining and informative. I loved learning about the diverse gestures used to communicate underwater and the mimicry of marine life. The tips for mastering these signals are very helpful. Can't wait to try them on my next dive! Thanks for sharing this incredible guide!

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