Diving is a popular sport among residents and visitors to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The seafloor of the offshore waters is home to natural and artificial reefs and wrecks. Federal agencies sink retired ships thus creating habitats for fish. As a result, divers have the opportunity to get up close and personal with sea life or engage in spearfishing. It is essential to understand what does a diver down flag look like boating in the vicinity for safety purposes. 

What Are The Two Types Of Diver Down Flags

The two types of diver down flags are the Alpha flag and the diver down flag. The Alpha and diver down flag is utilized universally accross the world in both fresh and saltwater. Having the ability to spot and understand what the flag represents is essential for safe boating. 

In comparison, the diver down flag is more widely. However, nonetheless, you must be capable of identifying each type. 

What Do The Diver Down Flags Look Like

When it comes to identifying the variations of diver down flags, understand that each differs significantly. 

Alpha Flag

The Alpha flag is the most well-known internationally. Alpha flags are blue and white and must be visible to fellow boaters from all angles.

To identify the flag look for the following characteristics. The portion connected to the flag pole is white before changing to blue at the centerline. Lastly, the end of the flag forms an inward V shape with blue points extending from the top and bottom. 

Diver Down Flag

A diver down flag is significantly different in appearance. In the United States, diver down flags are more predominantly used.

Look for a solid red flag with a white line extending from the upper left corner to the lower right corner to identify a diver down flag. 

Check out these images of what does a diver down flag look like to become familiar. 

Who Else Uses Diver Down Flags 

Diver down flags and Alpha flags are used to help identify more than scuba divers. The flags are also required for identification purposes when snorkelers and spearfishing anglers are in the water. Therefore, understand that swimmers are likely to be at the surface compared to deeply submerged. 

Anglers who enter the water to fish do so by both diving and snorkeling. Spearfishing is common for grouper and snapper, while spiny lobster divers use tickle sticks and snares. 

How Far Must A Boater Stay From A Diver Down Flag

Unfortunately, instances occur where divers become disoriented and surface a significant distance from the dive vessel. 

Due to the uncertainty of where a diver may surface, maximizing the boats operating distance from the diver down flag is imperative.

Inshore Waters And Inlets

While navigation restrictions may occur, such as in narrow channels or inlets, vessels must attempt to pass at a minimum of 100 feet. In some circumstances, this is not possible. Reduce the engine speed to idle ahead and maintain a sharp lookout when in the vacinity of a diver down flag.

Offshore Waters

Divers in inshore waters are better capable of maintaining their bearings when compared to offshore. Strong currents and endless reefs quickly put unsuspecting divers out of position. 

As a result of disorientation, boats operating within the vicinity of a diver down flag offshore must maintain an operating distance of 100 feet. However, a 300 foot minimum distance is recommended.

Freshwater Lakes And Rivers

The same regulations hold when operating a vessel in lakes and rivers through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Maintain an operating distance of a minimum of 100 feet. 

Know You Know What Does A Diver Down Flag Look Like

In addition to correctly identifying the two variations of diver down flags, you know how to operate the vessel safely in the vicinity of divers. Divers are struck and killed on a yearly basis. The deaths are a result of the failure to recongize the flag and maintain a safe operating distance. When flags are visible, reduce speed and keep your eyes focused on the waters ahead to ensure safety for all.