Wet Notes: An Essential Tool for Scuba Divers


Wet Notes, a seemingly innocuous term, refers to a critical component of a scuba diver’s toolkit. As the name suggests, Wet Notes are small notebooks composed of waterproof paper, designed to withstand the aquatic conditions in which scuba divers operate. This simple yet innovative tool serves many purposes underwater, from communication to navigation, and even as a medium for scientific research.

Historical Overview

Wet Notes have been a staple in the diving community since the mid-20th century, coinciding with the popularization of recreational scuba diving. They were initially used by professional divers and marine biologists who needed a reliable means of recording data underwater. Over time, they were adopted by the broader diving community, recognizing their utility in facilitating underwater communication and improving safety.

Structure and Composition

A standard Wet Notes notebook comprises a robust cover made from durable plastic or other waterproof materials, protecting the waterproof paper within. The paper is typically composed of synthetic materials like polyester or polyethylene, which repel water and prevent disintegration. Some Wet Notes also come with a pencil attached by a cord to the notebook, ensuring it doesn’t float away during use.

Roles and Functions

Communication: The primary use of Wet Notes is to facilitate communication between divers. While hand signals are the most common form of underwater communication, they can be limiting and may not cover all potential scenarios. Wet Notes allow divers to relay more complex messages or instructions, significantly enhancing safety and mutual understanding.

Navigation: Wet Notes can be used to sketch maps or directions, aiding in underwater navigation. This can be especially useful in complex environments such as caves or wrecks, where the risk of disorientation is high.

Scientific Research: Marine biologists and archaeologists often use Wet Notes to document observations or findings during underwater research. From noting behavioral patterns of marine life to sketching archaeological sites, Wet Notes prove to be an indispensable tool.

Dive Planning and Decompression Stops: Technical divers use Wet Notes to jot down their dive plans and decompression stops, providing a constant reference throughout the dive.

Training Tool: Instructors utilize Wet Notes as a teaching tool during dive training sessions, to provide students with written instructions or feedback.

Emergency Situations: Wet Notes can also serve as an emergency tool. Divers can write SOS messages or describe their problem if they require help, making them vital for rescue situations.

Care and Maintenance

Despite their water-resistant nature, Wet Notes require proper care and maintenance to prolong their lifespan. Post-dive, they should be rinsed in fresh water to remove salt, chlorine, or other potential contaminants. The pages should be carefully dried before closing the notebook to prevent any possible damage.

Choosing the Right Wet Notes

Selecting the right Wet Notes depends on your specific needs as a diver. When purchasing, consider factors such as size, paper quality, binding, and additional features like a pencil holder or attachment points for securing the notebook to your gear.

Size and Portability: Wet Notes come in various sizes. Compact Wet Notes are ideal for casual divers, as they are easy to handle and can be conveniently tucked into a pocket. Larger sizes are suited for professionals or technical divers who need more space for detailed data recording or mapping.

Paper Quality: The quality of the paper is crucial to the Wet Notes’ longevity and usability. High-quality waterproof paper should be tear-resistant, smudge-proof, and capable of withstanding multiple dives.

Binding and Durability: Wet Notes should have sturdy binding to ensure pages stay intact during dives. Spiral binding is a popular choice due to its durability and ease of use. The cover should also be robust and resistant to wear and tear.

Additional Features: Features like a pencil holder or attachment points can enhance the usability of Wet Notes. The pencil holder ensures that the writing instrument is always at hand, while attachment points allow divers to secure the notebook to their gear, preventing loss.

Custom Wet Notes: Some divers opt for custom Wet Notes, which come with pre-printed pages. These can include dive planning charts, emergency signals, common marine life species, and more. They serve as quick references and can be particularly useful for beginners or dive instructors.

Environmental Impact

Wet Notes, like all diving gear, have an environmental impact that divers should be mindful of. The synthetic materials used in the production of waterproof paper are derived from petroleum and are not biodegradable. Therefore, proper care and maintenance of Wet Notes are not just to ensure their longevity but also to minimize their environmental footprint.

Divers are encouraged to responsibly dispose of their old or damaged Wet Notes. Some manufacturers offer recycling programs, turning old Wet Notes into new products, thus promoting a circular economy.

Final Thoughts

In the vast, silent expanse of the underwater world, Wet Notes serve as a voice for divers. They are the unsung heroes of diving gear, often overlooked but irreplaceable in their utility. From the earliest versions used by pioneering divers to the modern, high-tech iterations available today, Wet Notes have continually evolved to meet the changing needs of the diving community. They are a testament to the innovative spirit of this adventurous pursuit, reminding us that even in the face of nature’s most challenging environments, human ingenuity finds a way to thrive.


In conclusion, Wet Notes, despite their simplicity, embody the multifaceted nature of scuba diving. They serve a range of roles, from basic communication to complex data collection, making them a cornerstone of safe and efficient underwater exploration. Whether you’re a recreational diver, a technical diver, or a marine biologist, Wet Notes are an invaluable companion in the underwater world, bearing testament to the symbiotic relationship between innovation and diving.