Known by many names—including the muck stick, the tank ticklin’ stick, and the reef stick—the humble scuba pointer stick has many uses. This short stick is usually made from an anti-corrosive metal, such as stainless steel. It has a hole at one end through which a lanyard can be attached, and sometimes, a rattle on the other end. Despite its simple design, it has so many uses that divers call it the Swiss Army knife of scuba diving equipment.
The Many Uses of a Scuba Pointer Stick
The XS Scuba Dive Master Pointer with Attachment Clip / Available at Leisure Pro
As a pointer
The diving stick, as its name suggests, is primarily used by divers, instructors, and divemasters to point out marine life or interesting coral to their diving group without getting too close or touching the creatures. This works well when pointing out hungry morays to the group and looking to save your fingers, or when pointing out tiny nudibranchs on the rocks that no one seems to notice. You can also use your diving stick to point out nearby dangers.
As a muck stick
When diving in sandy or silty sites, such as the ocean bed or lake bed, the scuba pointer stick is a great way to avoid disturbing the bed, causing the sand or silt to rise, which in turn reduces visibility. Many underwater photographers use muck sticks to maintain stability when the current is too strong for them to remain still. While your muck stick is no substitute for learning proper buoyancy, if conditions warrant the use of one, it is better than disturbing the sand.
As a tank banger
Communicating underwater can be a very difficult task, especially if you’re diving with a group. Tank bangers consist of a plastic ball attached to an elastic band and is strapped over one’s scuba tank. To grab the attention of someone in the diving group, pull the ball back and allow it to hit the tank. A dive pointer stick can be used as an alternative to a tank banger. Hitting your diver’s tank with this can create a clang loud enough to be heard. If you purchase one that has a rattle attached, this would work even better without scaring all the fish away.
To avoid touching anything
While it’s best not to touch anything while scuba diving, sometimes there will be instances when doing so will be unavoidable. This is especially likely when diving in stronger currents, or inside a wreck or cavern. In such cases, it’s better to use your dive pointer stick to prop yourself against the surface to prevent a collision. This can also prevent contact with dangerous creatures swimming about, like stonefish or urchins, and can minimize damage to reefs or creatures that aren’t immediately visible.
To act as an anchor in strong currents
Undercurrents can be a lot of trouble for scuba divers, especially for beginners. Getting caught in an undercurrent can spell disaster if you don’t have something sturdy to keep yourself in place. Scuba pointers can be used to anchor yourself close to the seabed, giving you a breather as you fight the current. Do note that it is advisable that you anchor your scuba pointer stick on a lifeless part of the sea bed—meaning you shouldn’t latch on to the reefs.
To use as a monopod for underwater photography
To help you capture the beauty of coral reefs and various underwater creatures, you can use a muck stick as a monopod. Your muck stick will keep you and your camera from making contact with the reef. It can also help support the weight of a heavy DSLR and help you maintain your stability, particularly during macro shooting.
To use in self-defense
While this scuba gear wasn’t intended to be used for self-defense, the scuba pointer stick can help you out in tricky situations. If territorial fish start getting aggressive and attempt to attack you, a sharp poke might make them turn away.
Some experts recommend using a scuba pointer stick to scare away curious sharks. When a shark gets a little too close for comfort, don’t panic or swim away; instead, give it a few quick jabs in the gills with your shark defense stick to scare it off.
Choosing a Scuba Diving Stick
The Blue Reef 8″ (20.3cm) Rattle Pointer / Available at Leisure Pro
When choosing a scuba pointer stick, select one that is made from anti-corrosive metal and has a rattle. The XS Scuba Dive Master Pointer with Attachment Clip has a built-in swivel clip for easy carrying. Fashioned from rust-free 304-grade stainless steel, you can use this pointer to point out small sea creatures and keep yourself from coming into contact with delicate coral. It can also be used as a substitute tank banger.
If you’re on the lookout specifically for a rattle pointer, the Blue Reef 8″ (20.3cm) Rattle Pointer has a built-in rattle handle that can emit a loud noise. At the other end of the pointer is an 8″ (20.3cm) pointer to help you share your underwater discoveries safely with your dive buddies.