Scuba Diving Descent Acronym (The Best Scuba Descent Technique)

This is about a scuba diver descent acronym to remember the descent procedure

Scuba Diving Descent Acronym - The Best Scuba Descent Technique

Acronyms work for many people. This includes scuba divers, especially when they’re learning to scuba dive. This scuba pre descent acronym is for beginner scuba divers that need an aid memoir until descending becomes second nature.

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A good scuba diving descent acronym is SORT BADEL. This acronym stands for Signal; Orientation; Regulator; Time; Buddy; Air; Descent; Equalise; Look.

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Scuba diving descent acronym

The scuba diving descent acronym I like to teach is SORT BADEL. Where Badel is a family name which was found in the USA, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920.

This scuba diving descent acronym works as follows:

S – Is for SIGNAL

Scuba diving descent acronym

Scuba diving is all about using hand signals. This is especially true underwater, as you can’t speak to your buddy or dive group once you’re below the surface.

It’s always good practice to begin the dive using the descent hand signal. This is a thumbs down signal, as per the image.

As you’re about to descend your regulator is in your mouth so you can’t speak, even though you’re still above the water.

Which is why using the down signal is the best way to proceed.


Before you descend with your buddy or group, take a look around. Orientate yourself with the boat or with the shore. Better still, make sure you have a compass on you.

Take a compass bearing with the land or some other fixed landmark.

This sort of orientation will help when you return to the surface or even more if the dive is a low visibility dive.

More Reading: How do I get a dive buddy? (5 easy ways to find a dive buddy)

R – It’s time to put your REGULATOR in your mouth ready for your descent

Before you descend you need to put your regulator in your mouth. But always leave this to the last minute.

Never breath any more of your air from your dive tank than you have to on the surface. You want to be able to conserve your air for the dive itself.

T – Is for making note of the TIME you leave the surface

Taking note of the time you leave the surface is a safety precaution. Most scuba divers dive using a dive computer. However, before dive computers were invented, dive times and controlling a no-decompression stop dive was done using a combination of your watch and a depth gauge.

This is how I learnt to dive. You always needed to make note of the time you left the surface.

But it’s still good practice to take a note and to have an idea of the bottom time you have at the depth of dive, just in case your dive computer fails.

B – Is for BUDDY and to make sure you are in sight before descending

Safe diving practice means you will always dive in a buddy pair. A good starting point is to keep within a reasonable distance between you and your buddy. You should be descending together as a buddy pair. You should leave the surface together, descend together and arrive at the bottom at roughly the same time.

Start the dive off as you mean to go on and keep within eye contact with your diving buddy.

A – Is for letting AIR out of your BCD

When you’re at the surface you will be positively buoyant. This is because, just before you entered the water, you would have filled your buoyancy control device (BCD) with air.

In order to leave the surface and descend, you need to become negatively buoyant. Lift your deflator hose on your BCD and release the air so you begin your descent.

D – Is for the DESCENT

Your descent will have begun after you’ve let out air from your deflator hose.

However, you will need to be in control of your inflator hose and add air on your descent. This is to control your descent to the bottom.

E – Is to remind you to EQUALISE

As you descend you must equalise your ears and your mask. Once you commence your descent the pressure starts to increase.

As the pressure increases, you must equalise the pressure of the air in your middle ear and the air space in your mask.

You must begin to do this right away and continue to do so all the way to the bottom.

To equalise your ears pinch your nose and breath out from your nose. You should feel a pop inside your head when your ears clear.

To equalise your mask, breath out from your nose. If you don;t equalise the air space in your mask you end up with mask squeeze.

L – Is to LOOK

As you descend you must continue to look and observe. This is for tow main reasons.

The first reason to look is to always keep your buddy in line of sight and within a reasonable distance from you.

The second reason is to lookout for what you may see. Look down, as many times you may see sharks (if you’re scuba diving is waters with sharks) or other creatures you may get to see on the way down, before they swim away. This could also include turtles or other larger sea creatures.

That’s my scuba diving descent acronym SORT BADEL. I hope this will help you to remember what to do as you begin your descent on your dives in future.

I hope you enjoyed this article about scuba diving descent acronym

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about scuba diving descent acronym), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!

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