Avoid getting in over your head by understanding these diving regulations:
- All persons diving in Florida waters must display a divers-down flag. Diving means swimming at or below the surface of the water while equipped with a mask and snorkel, or any other underwater breathing apparatus.
- The size of divers-down flags displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. Dive flags carried on floats must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches.
- Divers-down flags on vessels must be displayed above the vessel’s highest point so that the flag’s visibility is not obstructed in any direction.
- Divers must make reasonable efforts to stay within 300 feet of a divers-down flag on open waters (all waterways other than rivers, inlets, or navigation channels) and within 100 feet of a flag within rivers, inlets, or navigation channels.
- When divers are out of the water, a dive flag may not be displayed.
- Vessel operators must make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of at least 300 feet from divers-down flags on open waters and at least 100 feet from flags on rivers, inlets or navigation channels. Vessels approaching divers-down flags closer than 300 feet in open water and 100 feet in rivers, inlets and navigation channels must slow to idle speed.
- Vessel operators are responsible for operating their vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard to the presence of a divers-down flag so as not to endanger people or property. Failure to operate responsibly is considered reckless operation of a vessel, which is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.
- Divers must make a reasonable effort to stay within 100 feet of the divers-down flag in rivers, inlets or navigation channels and within 200 feet on all waters other than rivers, inlets or navigation channels.
- Vessels may approach within 100 feet or 300 feet of a divers-down flag at idle speed.
“Buzzing” a dive flag has been added to the description of reckless operation of a vessel, which is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.