Anyone Can Cancel Any Dive At Any Time For Any Reason

One of the cornerstones of scuba diving (along with “always keep breathing”) is the fact that ANY diver can call off or end ANY dive for ANY reason at ANY time. Hopefully this is a mantra you are already familiar with. There are numerous reasons why “calling” a dive may be advisable or warranted. 

When to consider calling a dive:  

  • You’re sick, injured, or just not 100% 
    If you’re sick or injured, it’s simple: don’t dive! You should feel your best (or close to it) before you commence any diving activities. Diving physiology gets complex when you are congested or are experiencing other symptoms that may merely be a nuisance on the surface. Not getting enough sleep, being hungover, being dehydrated, being overly stressed, being completely disorganized with your gear, or simply feeling underprepared can all indicate that you are not ready for a dive. 
  • You feel you are not mentally ready 
    If you’re feeling terrified of a dive or unsure if your skill level is sufficient to safely execute the dive plan, that’s a good indication that you may want to sit that dive out. A level of nervousness can be acceptable, even healthy, as it can keep you mentally sharp; however, when you’re unable to think clearly, that’s a good sign to take a step back. Sometimes this means you should delay starting the dive or review the dive plan with your buddies. And sometimes it means not diving at all.  
  • You are not properly trained for the conditions 
    There are occasions when you plan a dive and the conditions prove sportier or more challenging than you expected when you arrive at the dive site. Seek guidance from your divemaster, instructor, or captain, and discuss your skill level. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but exercise caution and understand the challenges before getting into the water. 
  • Something feels wrong or “off” (even if you aren’t sure what it is) 
    Follow your gut instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to that voice in your head. Scuba diving is not a mandatory activity, and you can always dive another day. Without extensive training and proper equipment, we would not survive long in the underwater environment. If your gut is telling you something is not quite right, take a few minutes to go through your plan and your equipment, talk with your buddies and/or dive professional, and always relate everything back to your experience level. If you feel uncertain during any point of the dive, it’s always okay to call the dive.  
  • Someone made you feel uncomfortable 
    If another diver says or does something to make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you always have the right to never dive with them. This is especially true when a diver gives another diver a difficult time for calling a dive early. Never let anyone peer pressure you into doing something you are uncomfortable with, and encourage others to take a stand for their safety. This can be direct, or it may be indirect — such as speaking with a dive professional who has the experience and responsibility to confront the harassing diver.  

All these things considered, do not worry about what anyone else thinks if you need to call a dive. Most experienced divers will support your decision. If someone tries to pressure you into diving, remember they aren’t the ones who will suffer the consequences. You’re truly the best advocate for your own safety. Diving is a fun activity, but it has inherent risks that can be exacerbated by various factors.  

You can call a dive at any point before or during the dive using the universal end-the-dive signal: a thumbs up. If done during a dive, no explanation is required. If you’re diving with a buddy, they should ascend with you. When you’ve called a dive, no one should prevent you from ascending unless they are helping you control your ascent rate. Always remember to ascend slowly (30 feet per minute is a good guideline). If feasible, perform a safety stop prior to surfacing. If in doubt, call the dive!