Scientific Scuba Diving
Walla Walla University and the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory support and encourage scuba diving by faculty, researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate students for scientific activities. The university is a member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), a group of more than 140 organizational members that use scuba diving as a research tool. AAUS and Walla Walla University are committed to the health and safety of scientific divers, and follow a set of standards for training and certification.
Jim Nestler, Dive Safety Officer
As detailed in the most recent version of the Walla Walla University Standards for Scientific Diving Manual (May 2019), each prospective scientific diver must fulfill the following requirements:
- Scuba Medical Examination
- DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers
- Swimming Proficiency Test
- Additional Forms (Liability Waiver, Scientific Diver Application, Equipment Inventory and Maintenance)
- On-Site Checkout Procedure
- Provide your own scuba equipment
- Minimum of Rescue Diver certification to be eligible for Scientific Diver status
- Minimum of Advanced Open Water certification to be eligible for Scientific Diver In Training status
Additional information for these requirements is given below.
All prospective scientific divers must pass a recent scuba medical examination administered by a physician (MD or DO only):
- Scientific Diving Medical History. Complete this form and provide it to the physician who will examine you.
- Scientific Diving Medical Exam Overview. This form lets the physician know what information may be important.
- Scientific Diving Medical Evaluation. The examining physician will complete this form.
- Scientific Diving Medical Information Release. Complete this form and provide it to the physician.
All forms must be completed before you are able to participate in scuba-related activities.
This scuba medical examination must be completed every 5 years if you are under age 40, every 3 years if you are age 40-59, and every 2 years if you are age 60 or over. It must be administered and signed by an MD or DO.
Each prospective scientific diver must successfully complete the DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers course (http://diversalertnetwork.org/training/courses) within the preceding two years prior to any diving activities. This course will be taught on the Walla Walla University campus as part of SCDI 441 Scientific Diving I (see "Scientific Diver Training" below).
Each prospective scientific diver needs to provide his/her own scuba equipment for all scuba activities. We are able to provide weights, cylinders, air, whistles, and surface marker buoys. Equipment you need includes:
- buoyancy compensating device (BCD)
- regulator with octopus and gauges (or appropriate computer)
- 7mm wetsuit or appropriate dry suit for cold water diving
- gloves for cold water diving
- booties for cold water diving
- hood for cold water diving
- cutting device (knife/shears)
- primary light, backup light, and cylinder light (if you plan to dive at night)
You will need to provide documentation that your regulator and octopus have been professionally serviced within the previous 12 months.
Walla Walla University Scientific Divers and Scientific Divers-In-Training can receive significant discounts on scuba equipment from companies such as Huish Outdoors (which encompasses many scuba gear providers), Shearwater Research, and Light & Motion. All orders must be placed directly through the WWU Dive Safety Officer. We thank these companies for their continued generosity and support of underwater scientific activities.
Each prospective scientific diver must demonstrate swimming proficiency by completing the "Swimming/Watermanship Evaluation" as listed in the Walla Walla University Standards for Scientific Diving Manual . All tests are to be performed without swim aids (except possible exposure protection). Tests include:
- Swim underwater for a distance of 25 yards/meters without surfacing
- Swim 400 yards/meters in less than 12 minutes
- Tread water for 10 minutes, or 2 minutes without the use of hands
- Transport a passive person of equal size a distance of 25 yards/meters in the water
All prospective scientific divers (faculty, researchers, graduate students, upper-division students) regardless of their diving experience need to successfully complete a checkout procedure administered by the Dive Safety Officer. This checkout procedure must be completely on a yearly basis, and will include classroom activities, safety overview, and open-water skills. All of the above requirements (such as medical exam, equipment, first aid, swimming proficiency) must be completed PRIOR to the checkout procedure. Contact the Dive Safety Officer to discuss potential dates, times, and locations for the checkout procedure.
Walla Walla University has two categories of scientific divers.
- "Scientific Diver" - has scuba training through at least Rescue Diver certification (or equivalent), has been trained in underwater scientific techniques, and is current with their medical exam, DAN Diving First Aid, swimming proficiency, and other requirements.
- "Scientific Diver In Training" - has scuba training through at least Advanced Open Water certification (or equivalent), is actively pursuing Scientific Diver status, and is current with their medical exam, DAN Diving First Aid, swimming proficiency, and other requirements. A Scientific Diver In Training must have a Scientific Diver as their buddy on a dive.
All scientific divers are charged $75/year. Visiting researchers are charged an additional $10.50 per air cylinder, $15 per nitrox cylinder.
- Scientific Diving Medical Evaluation
- Scientific Diving Medical Exam Overview
- Scientific Diving Medical History
- Scientific Diving Medical Information Release
Scientific Diving Certification
- Scientific Diver Application
- Scientific Diver Certification
- Scientific Diver in Training Certification
- Nitrox Authorization Form
Scientific Diving Activities
Walla Walla University offers two courses for training prospective scientific divers to meet the standards of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences.
SCDI 441 Scientific Diving I (2 quarter credits)
This course, in combination with Scientific Diving II (SCDI 442), meets the training and performance standards for scientific divers as prescribed by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. Course includes safety training and introduction to underwater scientific methodology. Activities will occur in classroom, confined water, and open water settings. Will not apply to biology major or minor. Prerequisites: Advanced Open Water certification from an internationally recognized agency, WWU Scientific Diving medical examination, swimming evaluation, and permission of instructor.
SCDI 442 Scientific Diving II (2 quarter credits)
This course, in combination with Scientific Diving I, meets the training and performance standards for scientific divers as prescribed by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. Course includes underwater and surface search and rescue, emergency management, advanced underwater scientific methodology, and small boat operations. Activities will occur in classroom, confined water, and open water settings. Will apply to biology major electives, but will not apply to biology minor. Prerequisite: Scientific Diving I and permission of instructor.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I don't know how to scuba dive. Will I learn how to scuba dive in these courses?
Scientific Diving I & II are designed for individuals who are already scuba-certified at the Advanced Open Water level. Walla Walla University does not offer Open Water or Advanced Open Water certification courses; potential students need to obtain both of these recreational certifications elsewhere PRIOR to taking Scientific Diving I & II.
Do I need to be a biology major to take these courses?
No! These courses are designed for anyone who 1) wishes to scuba dive for upper-division marine courses at the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory, 2) will be involved in marine-related research activities, 3) may continue their education at another AAUS member institution, or 4) plan to pursue marine-related careers.
How do the credits "count" toward my degree?
The 4 credits will count toward the 192 credits needed by Walla Walla University students. The 2 credits for SCDI 441 will count as general electives, and the 2 credits for SCDI 442 will count as BIOL electives for Biology majors.
What certifications will I obtain by successfully completing these courses?
DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers, PADI Rescue Diver, AAUS Scientific Diver certifications.
What are the prerequisites?
- Advanced Open Water certification from an internationally-recognized agency (such as PADI, NAUI, SDI, SSI).
- A specific medical examination designed for scientific divers. See "Scuba Medical Examination" above.
- All personal scuba equipment for confined (pool) and open water (ocean) diving. Tanks and weights will be provided. See "Scuba Equipment" above.
What is the cost?
Tuition is charged at the normal Walla Walla University rate. A lab fee of $200 is charged for each course ($400 total lab fees for the two courses).
Is equipment provided?
Tanks, weights, whistles, and surface marker buoys will be provided. Each student needs to provide their own scuba equipment for all scuba activities. See "Scuba Equipment" above.
What topics are covered?
- Introduction to AAUS and scientific diving
- Overview of scuba physics and physiology
- Scuba CPR and First Aid
- Surface and underwater rescue skills
- Marine organism identification
- Underwater scientific methods
- Dive vessel operations
When are the courses offered? What are the "open water" sessions?
- Scientific Diving I is offered during Winter Quarter and will meet on Thursday evenings, 7:00-10:00 p.m. One Sunday session also will occur (exact date to be determined).
- Scientific Diving II is offered during Spring Quarter. Most activities will actually occur during Spring Break at the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory (Anacortes WA). Activities during Spring Break will include underwater scientific methodology and dive vessel operations. Following these spring break activities the course will meet for two additional Thursday evenings (7:00-10:00 p.m.) at the beginning of Spring Quarter.
How do I register for these courses?
Both courses are listed under the SCDI prefix in the university course catalog and schedule.
SCDI 441 Scientific Diving I
SCDI 442 Scientific Diving II
You will need specific permission from the instructor (Jim Nestler, firstname.lastname@example.org) to register.
I have more questions! Who do I contact?
Jim Nestler, Dive Safety Officer and Course Instructor