A few years ago, I was diving for the first time on Elphinstone reef in the hope of seeing Longimanus sharks.
Arriving south of Elphinstone, I was suddenly surprised by a concert of crystalline sounds: dozens of divers meeting on the edge of the reef and frenetically agitating their shakers to announce the arrival of sharks.
Everyone rush but … where to go ? Some follow a group of divers and all the divers on the spot move in one great movement.
In the end no sharks, we will see later, … later.
Since this dive experience, I am relatively skeptical about the use of a shaker especially when the spot is visited by a large number of divers.
Also, I was very curious to test the Buddy Watcher.
What is the Buddy Watcher ?
The Buddy Watcher is a small, black and green electronic device, the size of a dive computer designed by a German start-up a few years ago.
The Buddy Watcher’s objective is to attract the attention of buddies of the same group without causing a cacophony that can be disturbing the underwater world. It is therefore a means of underwater communication.
Unlike mechanical sound alarms such as shakers, the Buddy Watcher uses ultrasound as a means of attention and is only heard by people who use it or who are in its immediate environment. Seems more respectful to marine life
Before each dive, a simple synchronization of a few dozen of seconds of the buddy watcher of the members of the group allows to match all devices. To call his buddy, it is enough for the diver to press one of the two big buttons of the Buddy Watcher so that the signal is sent to the matched devices.
The ultrasonic signal emitted is transformed into a visual signal (red flashing lights) but also into a vibration.
Announced with a range of 20 meters and a maximum possible depth of – 40m, the Buddy Watcher should be suitable for all divers engaged in recreational dives or for diving with children
And in practice, what does it give ?
To get a clear idea, I used the Buddy Watcher in very different environments (cold quarries with very little visibility, cold sea with current and warm sea) with diving equipment ranging from a drysuit to a 3 mm neoprene suit.
First impression : You don’t need to be an expert, the use of the Buddy Watcher is really simple and I like it very much. The pairing is done easily and a press of a button actually sends the signal to your buddy.
Whether in 3mm or drysuit, the Buddy Watcher can be easily secured with its stretchable straps of suitable sizes for drysuit or wet suit.
For distracted people who would have forgotten to change the size of their strap when changing dive suit or for the worried people that would be afraid of interference with their dive computer, no problems either, just fix the Buddy Watcher on your BCD to also have a very good functioning (you can hear/feel the vibration). Anothe r option is to fix it on your bicep.
Second impression : The Buddy Watcher works well, in all environments, but with an offset. Indeed, there is a small latency between the moment I press the button and the moment my buddy receives the signal. This is not really disturbing most of the time but underwater life being full of surprises sometimes very short, it happened that this small latency might be too long.
Despite this problem, I am charmed by the Buddy Watcher which allows me to easily attract the attention of my buddy whatever the visibility.
Third impression : if the cost is clearly superior to that of a mechanical shaker (it is necessary to spend +/- 230$ for two Buddy Watcher with batteries and straps), I think that the use of this device is very clearly to be considered. I decided to adopt it because it gives me more comfort during my dives. I don’t have to pull the fin of my buddy or to shake my light beam ten times in front of him, a simple pressure on my Buddy Watcher allows to warn my buddy to look at me.
However, although I did not observe any reaction from fish, sharks, turtles and other marine animals when using the Buddy Watcher, I still have one last question :
Can ultrasound communication disrupt marine life?
It’s your turn :
This space is your space. If you have ever experienced the Buddy Watcher, feel free to share your opinion with all by leaving a message here below
Good bubbles and do not forget to be happy 🙂
This article is totally independent from the company marketing the product. I received no compensation in exchange for this article. I test for pleasure to discover new tools allowing to give my dives more security and / or pleasure. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have a new product to test.
Photos: Dany Luyck, DifferentDive