How to deal with currents when scuba diving and feel comfortable while doing it
Dec 02, 2022
Basic understanding of how to deal with ocean currents and how LEFEET underwater scooters can stop you from being swept away.
Love or hate them; ocean currents are a reality of (almost) every dive.
From the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. From the Red Sea to the South Seas. From the Artic to the Antarctic. Currents are a natural phenomenon that varies in strength, consistency and direction.
Diving in currents (known as drift diving) is an experience that opens the doors to many exciting diving adventures as it makes it super easy for divers to glide over the seafloor.
But dealing with currents when scuba diving can also be intimidating, especially to new divers who haven’t yet got into the joy of drift diving.
And although you should always dive within your limits and in conditions you’re comfortable with, truth be told, you can get caught in an unexpected current.
So how do you deal with diving in a current?
What are currents?
Simply put, currents refer to the continuous motion of seawater. This water movement is caused by many factors, such as gravity, tides, winds and water temperatures.
Although most currents run horizontally to the earth’s surface, they can also run vertically, pushing us upwards (up currents) or downwards (down currents).
Did you know? Currents don’t exist only in oceans, but they can also occur in seas and large lakes.
Causes of currents
How strong are ocean currents?
Underwater currents vary in strength – from light to medium and strong. Their speed ranges from a few inches per second to a few feet. To put this into measurable perspective, the Gulf Stream is the fastest ocean current with a speed of up to 6.5ft (2m) per second.
What are the 3 major ocean currents?
Currents run in circular patterns across the globe (known as ocean gyres).
There are 3 main ocean currents: the North Equatorial Current, the Gulf Stream, the North Atlantic Current, and the Canary Current.
The world’s major underwater currents
It’s not a coincidence that these regions are also home to some of the best diving destinations in the world. Why? Because dive sites with strong currents tend to have more marine life and are often home to pelagic animals. And that’s what makes drift diving so exciting, fun and memorable!
Dive sites with strong currents tend to have more marine life
What to consider when diving in currents?
Drift diving is exhilarating, but like all things scuba diving related, enroll in a course to get proper training. And as always, follow all diving rules, use your judgment and make sure to bring an SMB (surface marker buoy), minimum.
With practice, you’ll learn to go with the flow and glide effortlessly over reefs, wrecks and other amazing underwater landscapes.
Current dives can be adrenaline-filled dives that propel you through the water or they can be slow and relaxing as you fly by over coral reefs.
Either way, diving in currents requires little or no finning at all. So there’s no fighting against currents and no swimming back to where you started.
But what should you do if you’re caught in an unexpected current?
If you find yourself caught in a current, there are a few things you can do to deal with the situation.
Whatever you do, don’t try to fight against a current. It will only exhaust you and use up a lot of air.
Instead, take shelter behind a rock, reef or wreck. Alternatively, you can also swim downwards towards the bottom of the seafloor (the currents are less strong near the ocean floor).
At this point, you can evaluate your next move. You can ride it out and basically continue on your drift dive, or you can resurface and move to a dive site with calmer waters.
*Important: if you do try and swim, swim out of the current – not into it. So swim either right, left, up, down or pedicular to the current.
Dealing with currents using an underwater scooter
Underwater sea scooters save divers time, energy and air, making dives less tiring, more exciting and, overall, even safer.
But another useful advantage of diving with a DPV (diver propulsion vehicle) is that they can also be used as valuable safety tool in dealing with strong currents.
Doing the job for you. Exploring a dive site with a sea scooter
To get you an extra speed of 5.9 ft (1.8m) per second, the LEFEET sea scooter has enough power to get you away from small, unexpected currents. So you won’t feel overwhelmed by the idea of being swept away.
Mastering drift dives automatically give you access to some amazing dive sites. Not only that, but having the diving skills to know how do handle a current will also turn you into a better and more confident diver.
But as a diver, it’s good to be prepared for the unexpected. A compact and travel-friendly DPV that you can take with you wherever you go in the world, will improve your diving experience while keeping you safe.