1) CHECK THE CURRENT FROM THE SURFACE
Check the tide timetable, it could give you indications of whether the tide is going down (you have more chance to have a North to South current), or up (South to North current). Currents are weakest when its at its highest or lowest point so depending on the dive site you want to explore, this can be a great time to dive.
Ask the diving professionals or the captain of the boat. They might know how to read the water movement from the surface and can even give you tips to be able to understand it yourself.
2) USE AN APPROPRIATE ENTRY / DESCENT
- if you can find shelter at the surface: (a rock or island rising out of the water)
- If you dive a pinnacle (underwater mountain) :
3) BE STREAMLINED
Moreover, make sure all your equipment is streamlined. Any alternate air source hose, torch or pointer dangling off your gear can get stuck in the reef or make your movements more difficult.
If you are photographer, diving into current with very big cameras can be tricky. If you have the option to take a smaller device for strong current dives, don't hesitate!
If you find yourself out of breath or too tired to kick against the current, stay close to the bottom and find a piece of rock or dead coral to rest. You can also pull yourself with one or two fingers to help you reach the point of interest. Obviously do this while staying respectful to the environment; Don't touch anything alive, and limit contact as much as possible.
4) WATCH THE FISH!
For example, if you see a fish close to a rock staying still, you would want to seek shelter in the same place if you want to rest.
If you see a fish swimming in a vertical head up position along a wall or a slope, you understand that you will have to face a down current; don't panic and adjust your buoyancy.
Schools of barracuda or trevally hunt swimming against the current so seeing this behaviour can give you an indication of current direction. You can also observe how strong they are swimming to have an idea of the strength of the current.
5) ALWAYS THINK ABOUT SAFETY FIRST
- You might have to stay in deep areas to find shelter or to observe the underwater life revolving around you. Be careful to watch your No Decompression Limit closely!
- If you get caught in an uncontrollable current and have to end the dive, deploy your Surface Marker Buoy as soon as possible so the captain can follow you from the surface during your safety stop. It will avoid surfacing far away from the boat and long swims.
- Dive with a professional or experienced diver who can give you advice on your technique and guide you around the dive site safely.
- If you don't feel comfortable, end the dive! Your well-being is the most important thing to consider.