Drift diving

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Drift diving is a type of scuba diving where the diver is transported by the currents caused by the tide or in a river.

The current gives the diver the impression of flying and allows the diver to cover long distances underwater, possibly seeing more habitats and formations than usual. Often drift diving is performed more for the experience of underwater "flight" and less for interactions with underwater life, which, given the speed at which most divers move, are reduced.


Normal precautions for drift diving are to have a supporting boat follow the divers and for the dive leader to use a surface marker buoy.

Drift diving requires additional skills beyond basic entry level training to be done safely. Some diver training agencies offer drift diving training as a specialty part of their Advanced Open Water Diver training.

Drift diving requires more rigorous planning than a dive in still water to be executed safely. In contrast to most recreational diving, drift diving is generally not planned to coincide with slack water. It is important to consider the direction of tidal streams as well as their strength to avoid divers being swept into dangerous areas such as shipping lanes. It is also important to plan for the possibility of separation, either underwater or at the surface. Mitigation equipment for separation may include signaling devices and a compass.

There may be local rules pertaining to the use of surface marker buoys. In some parts of the world, surface marker buoys alone are not legally sufficient signaling devices, and one of the international diver down flags (in an appropriate size), might be required while drift diving.


  • Busuttili, Mike; Trevor Davies; Peter Edmead; et al. (1959). Sport Diving. BSAC. pp. 196–197. ISBN 0-09-186429-1. 

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