Scientific Research Diving

Scientific Diving is a valuable tool to conduct undersea research by gathering observations and data underwater. URI divers are engaged in research around the world covering multiple disciplines from marine biology, ecology, oceanography, archaeology, ocean engineering and conservation. URI is an organizational member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences and has modeled its program after these standards. Scientific diving operations take place under the direction of the Diving Safety Officer (DSO) with oversight of a Diving Control Board (DCB). Divers must be authorized prior to taking part in scientific diving activities on behalf of URI. Please refer to the 2020 Diving Research & Safety Program: Program Report and Strategic Plan for detailed information on current statistics and future objectives.

Anyone interested in conducting underwater research should already hold a basic open water scuba diver certification. The next step is to enroll in AFS 433 or the not-for-credit Research Diving Methods course offered each May. Please note that additional paperwork is required and must be submitted to the DSO upon enrollment:

  • AAUS Medical Evaluation of Fitness for SCUBA Diving (or equivalent) – to be completed by physician familiar with diving medicine – a diving medical is current for 5 years if under the age of 40, 3 years if over the age of 40, and 2 years if over the age of 60. URI Health Services is capable of conducting this exam for students only.
  • Diving certification card from recognized agency (please send any and all certifications available)
  • Proof of current dive accident insurance (e.g. DAN membership and insurance)
  • URI will provide diving equipment except in the situation of unusual sizing circumstances. If personal diving equipment (regulators and BCDs only) will be used, please ensure that equipment has been properly serviced or purchased in the last 12 months. Verification such as a copy of the receipt of service or purchase must be submitted to the DSO.
  • Completed URI waivers: statement of safe diving practices and waiver release.
  • All participants will be required to pass a swim test (typically on the 1st day of class) prior to participating in research diving activities. Please refer to the URI Dive Safety Manual for specifics.

If you have been previously qualified at another institution, please request that a training verification letter be sent from that institution directly to the URI DSO.

For information regarding planning a research diving project or the compliance process, please refer to the Research Diving Protocol.