News Releases

FWC promotes dive flag awareness

News Release

Friday, May 24, 2013

Media contact: Stan Kirkland, 850-265-3676

This holiday weekend, as even more people are out enjoying the warmer weather, it is important to remember to stay safe – and that goes for both on and inthe water. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds boaters and divers of the importance of using a divers-down flag.

“Divers-down flags are not only required by law, but they are necessary to stay safe, particularly in areas of high boat traffic,” said Maj. Bruce Cooper, commander for the FWC’s Northwest Region.

Divers-down flags help both divers and boaters. Divers use them to notify boaters that they are in the water. Boat operators see the flags and know to steer clear.

“The Emerald Coast is a beautiful spot to snorkel and dive to see dolphins and other marine life in their natural environment,” Cooper said. “Everyone just needs to remember what to do to keep themselves and others safe. Boaters should be particularly vigilant of swimmers and snorkelers in and around these dolphin-viewing areas.”

Divers must do their part by ensuring the flag is properly displayed when divers are in the water, and removed when they exit the water. Boaters need to be aware at all times, scanning the water for dive flags.

The specific regulations regarding divers-down flags are as follows:

  • 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. Also, 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 and within 100 feet of a flag within rivers, inlets or navigation channels.
  • 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.
  • When divers are out of the water, a dive flag must not be displayed.

To view a video about divers-down flags, visit For more information on boating regulations, visit

FWC Facts:
According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 66.1 million people engage in wildlife observation, spending about $38.5 billion per year.

Learn More at AskFWC