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Scientific Scuba Diving

Walla Walla University and the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory support and encourage scuba diving by faculty, researchers, and graduate and upper-division students for scientific activities. The university is a member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), a group of more than 130 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.

As detailed in the Walla Walla University Standards for Scientific Diving, 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

Additional information for these requirements is given below.

Questions? Contact:
Jim Nestler, Dive Safety Officer

All prospective scientific divers must pass a recent scuba medical examination administered by a 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.

Each prospective scientific diver must successfully complete the DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers course ( within the preceding two years prior to any diving activities.  This course will be taught on the Walla Walla University campus on Sunday April 2, 2017.  If you are unable to attend, you will need to find a DAN instructor in your area to take the full course (

Each prospective scientific diver needs to provide his/her own scuba equipment for all scuba activities.  We are able to provide weights, cylinders, air, and surface marker buoys.  Equipment you need includes: 

  • mask
  • snorkel
  • fins
  • 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)'
  • whistle or other auditory signalling device

You will need to provide documentation that your regulator and octopus have been professionally serviced within the previous 12 months.

Each prospective scientific diver must demonstrate swimming proficiency by completing the "Swimming/Watermanship Evaluation" as listed on page 22 of the Standards for Scientific Diving.  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 arrive at the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory by Sunday June 18, 2017, and be present by 10:00 a.m. on Sunday June 18 for a checkout procedure administered by the Dive Safety Officer.  This checkout procedure will include classroom activities, pool (confined water) activities, safety overview, and open-water dives.

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), and  is current with their medical exam, DAN Diving First Aid, and 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 $8.00 per air cylinder, $15 per nitrox cylinder.

Last update on March 27, 2017