Animal Crossing Swim and Dive Guide

On July 3rd, 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch was updated with new swimming, diving and catching sea creatures features!

Keep reading to learn how to swim, which technique is best to catch a sea creature depending on its speed, get a list of fast and very fast sea creatures, and more tips & tricks.

(Animal Crossing NH Diving Image)
(Animal Crossing NH Sea Creature Bubbles Image)

How to swim and catch a sea creature

1/ Get a wet suit

You need to wear a wet suit to swim and catch sea creatures. Note that you can get a snorkel mask too, but it's not required to swim. Wet suits and snorkel masks come in a variety of colors and styles. You can buy a blue, red, yellow or black horizontal-striped wet suit at Nook's Cranny for 3000 Bells, redeem a green/grey Nook wet suit at Nook Stop for 800 Nook Miles or purchase a blue, green, pink or yellow leaf-print wet suit in the Special Goods section of Nook Shopping, also at the Nook Stop.

2/ Get in the water

Then, wearing the wet suit (without holding any tool), stand by the seashore and press "A" to enter the water. To jump into the water, press "A" while standing on a pier or rock.

3/ Swim and dive
  • In the water, swim slowly using the directional left stick only (vertical body position + feet and arms movements).
  • Press and hold "A" to swim at a normal speed (horizontal body + feet kicking).
  • Swim faster by repeatedly pressing "A" (horizontal body position + feet and arms movements).
  • Dive in or out of the water by pressing "Y" once.
  • Swim underwater by pressing "Y" once (to dive) then "A" (to swim).
4/ Catch sea creatures!

Now, to get a sea creature, look for air bubbles in the water as they indicate a sea creature (or a pearl) can be found below! Approach the bubbles then swim underwater (read the instructions here above) until you reach the sea creature's shadow. You'll automatically come back up with a catch.

You can also first start swimming (with your head above the water) and only dive the moment you're above the sea creature, but we find this is slightly less effective.

(Animal Crossing NH Finding a Pearl Image)
(Animal Crossing NH Turban Shell Image)
(Animal Crossing NH Acorn Barnacle)

How to catch a FAST sea creature

1/ Best way to catch fast sea creatures:

Slowly swim above water, using the directional left stick only, until you're on top of the fast sea creature shadow (it sounds impossible, but swimming slowly is the only way to reach the fast creature when you're both going in the same direction), then dive and swim quickly until you catch it (press "Y" once then "A" repeatedly). That's it!

If you missed the catch, get back to the water surface and start following the sea creature slowly again.

2/ Alternate method:

Follow the fast sea creature until it makes a u-turn — it does so when reaching the shore or the nautical netting. Dive right around this moment and swim quickly under water to catch it.

(Animal Crossing NH Gigas Giant Clam Image)
Fast ACNH sea creatures list:
  • Lobster
  • Snow crab
  • Spiny lobster
  • Umbrella octopus
  • Venus' flower basket
Very fast ACNH sea creatures list:
  • Giant isopod
  • Gigas giant clam
  • Red king crab
  • Sea pig
  • Spider crab
  • Vampire squid

Tips and tricks

  • You can only swim in the sea — not in rivers or ponds.
  • You can only swim underwater for a limited amount of time (less than 10 seconds, about 7 arm movements), after which you'll automatically come back up for air.
  • Sea creatures have different shadow sizes (like fish), ranging from tiny to large.
  • Even though some of them don't move at all, most do and they have different speed (slow, normal, fast). The fast ones, harder to catch, sell for a higher price.
  • The size, spacing and speed of the bubbles produced change depending on the creature.
  • Once a day, catching a scallop will summon Pascal the otter who will trade it for a pearl, mermaid-themed clothing or some mermaid furniture DIY recipe.
  • You can dive and catch pearls but they are in fact categorized as DIY materials — you won't be able to donate them to the museum, they won't appear in the Critterpedia, but they'll help you craft beautiful mermaid furniture. Pearls are static and their shadow is very small.
(Animal Crossing NH Scallop Trade Image)
(Animal Crossing NH Pascal the Otter Gift Image)

ACNH sea creatures & other critters iOS stickers

Add liveliness to your messages with ACNH Fish, Bugs & Critters — Animal Crossing: New Horizons' complete critterpedia cute icons sticker pack. A total of 210 high-resolution stickers, including all sea creatures! Download them now on the App Store!

(ACNH Fish, Bugs & Critters — Stickers for iMessage)