Scientific Diving Training at Florida International University



James Fourqurean

Professor, Biological Sciences -cell 305-815-0287


Roger Garcia

FIU Diving Safety Officer (DSO)

-cell 305-509-2523


Anne Sevon

FIU Boating Safety Officer and Assistant DSO

-cell 215-359-6661


Textbook for the class: FIU Scientific Divers Safety Manual. You must all read this thoroughly before the Final exam


The Dive Safety Program at FIU trains and certifies FIU faculty, staff and students as Scientific Divers following the standards of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences.

Scientific Diving can be taken at FIU for academic credit at either the undergraduate or graduate level. The training can also be taken as a non-credit course for FIU employees and volunteers who need certification as a scientific diver for their work. Note that all students in this class must be either employees or students at FIU. For those from other institutions wanting to take the class, they must register at FIU as a non-degree-seeking student and enroll in either the graduate or undergraduate academic classes listed below.

Currently, the undergraduate class (Scientific Diving, BSC4473C, 3 credits) and the graduate class (Workshop in Scientific Diving, OCB6927C, 2 credits) are generally offered during the academic Fall, Spring, and Summer A terms. Admission to the class requires permission of the instructor since space on the vessels used for training is limited. FIU students, please check with your advisors about the applicability of these academic classes for your program. Currently, Biology majors can use this class as an elective in the major, while Marine Biology majors can use this class to satisfy the Marine Biology Field Experience area requirement. Graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences generally can count this class as one of their required workshops if their research committee so approves it as part of their course of study.

Program requirements and prerequisites

1.       All prospective scientific divers must possess at least a recreational open water SCUBA certification from a recognized program (like PADI, NAUI, SSI, etc)

2.       In addition to the class tuition (if the academic class is being taken for credit), for Fall semester 2023 students will pay a lab fee of $927 that covers equipment rental, certification fees and vessel charter. There is a discount on this fee if internal funds (grant funds, E&G accounts) are used to pay the lab fee, that rate is $629. Please note that student financial aid is NOT considered internal funds for this purpose, and this lab fee does not show up on your student financial account in the online Student Portal. All students MUST pay their lab fees here, or make arrangements for them to be paid from grant funding through a smartbill. Note that we must have a record of giving you permission to register here before you do so. There can be no refunds of the lab fee if weather prevents the boat from leaving the dock because of unsafe conditions during dive week. If weather limits our diving during the dive week, we will work to make alternate dates available for additional training dives at no extra cost.

3.       Students must pass a diving medical examination prior to the beginning of in-the-water training, at their own expense. The forms you need for the diving medical exam can be found in the appendices of the FIU Scientific Diving Safety Manual.

4.       Students must also fill out an FIU diver qualification questionnaire.

5.       As part of the class, all prospective scientific divers are required to pass a swim test. Without swim aids, students must be able to:

    1. Swim underwater for a distance of 25 yards (23 meters) without surfacing.
    2. Swim 400 yards (366 meters) in less than 12 minutes
    3. Tread water for 10 minutes, or 2 minutes without the use of hands
    4. Transport a passive person of equal size a distance of 25 yards (23 meters) in the water


Competencies required for certification as an FIU Scientific Diver:

  1. Diving Emergency Care Training
    1. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
    2. AED
    3. Standard or Basic First Aid
    4. Recognition of DCS and AGE
    5. Accident Management
    6. Field Neurological Exam
    7. Oxygen Administration
  2. Confined Water Skills
    1. Enter water fully equipped for diving
    2. Clear fully flooded face mask
    3. Demonstrate air sharing and ascent using an alternate air source, as both donor and recipient, with and without a face mask
    4. Demonstrate buddy breathing as both donor and recipient, with and without a face mask
    5. Demonstrate understanding of underwater signs and signals
    6. Demonstrate ability to remove and replace equipment while submerged
    7. Demonstrate acceptable watermanship skills for anticipated scientific diving conditions
  3. Open Water Skills
    1. Surface dive to a depth of 10 feet (3 meters) without scuba
    2. Enter and exit water while wearing scuba gear
    3. Kick on the surface 400 yards (366 meters) while wearing scuba gear, but not breathing from the scuba unit
    4. Demonstrate proficiency in air sharing ascent as both donor and receiver
    5. Demonstrate the ability to maneuver efficiently in the environment, at and below the surface
    6. Complete a simulated emergency swimming ascent
    7. Demonstrate clearing of mask and regulator while submerged
    8. Underwater communications
    9. Demonstrate ability to achieve and maintain neutral buoyancy while submerged
    10. Demonstrate techniques of self-rescue and buddy rescue
    11. Navigate underwater
    12. Plan and execute a dive
    13. Demonstrate judgment adequate for safe scientific diving
  4. Rescue Skills
    1. Rescue from depth and transport 25 yards (23 meters), as a diver, a passive simulated victim of an accident: surface diver, establish buoyancy, stabilize victim
    2. Demonstrate simulated in-water mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
    3. Removal of victim from water to shore or boat
    4. Stressed and panicked diver scenarios
    5. Recommendations For rescue of a submerged unresponsive compressed-gas diver
  5. Minimum Dive Requirements
    1. One checkout dive
    2. 11 open water dives


Grading policies

For the academic classes, the final grade will be calculated according to student performance on the on-line module quizzes and in-class, closed-book final exam. On-line module quizzes must be completed by the stated due date; late assignments will be penalized 10% for each day they are late. The average quiz grade will count as 60% of the final grade, and the final exam will count for 40% of the grade. Letter grades will be assigned using a 10-point scale, with 90% and above receiving an A, 80% and above a B. and so on. It is possible to pass the academic class and not receive certification as a scientific diver if the student is found medically unfit for diving or if they cannot demonstrate all the required swimming skills and competencies.

For workplace skills certification, students must pass all quizzes with a minimum score of 80%, score at least 80% on the cumulative final, be found medically competent to dive, pass the swim test, and complete the 12 training dives during the class field trip while displaying competence underwater.

Class schedule for Summer 2024

Class Schedule and assignments. Red text indicates in-person meeting of the class. On-line learning modules can be found on the Diver Accident Network website and American Academy for Underwater Sciences E-Learning platform. Once registered for the class, the FIU DSO and/or Assistant DSO will generate permission for students to access these platforms.








FIU pool BBC campus


Swim Test




Diver Alert Network online material and online assignments completion deadline

Saturday 11-May

MMC Campus, WC130


Class organization and CPR, AED, First Aid and Oxygen Administration

-FIU Diver Qualification Questionnaire due



Introduction to Scientific Diving



AAUS Regulations and History



Diving Physics



Diving Physiology








Breath-hold Diving




Decompression Theory




Decompression Management Tools


FIU BBC Campus pool– NOTE: date to be confirmed


Pool check-out dive and make-up swim test

-Report of Diving Medical Exam due to DSO




Scientific Method




Data Gathering Techniques




Safe Handling and Filling of Scuba Cylinders




Dive Rescue




Dive planning



Diving Injuries and Emergency Care


Zoom session

Time TBD

Review for final exam, Zoom (details will be sent to students)


On-line Final Exam DUE

E-learning Final Exam

July 18-24, 2024

Florida Keys Dive Training trip, Aquarius Reef Base, Islamorada

Techniques for underwater research

SCUBA Diving Evaluation, Check Out Dive (Open Water)

Diver Rescue / Bottom Recovery (Open Water)

Accident Management / Injured Diver on Deck (Open Water)

NITROX Diving (Open Water)

Underwater Navigation, Identifying / Marking Research Sites (Open Water)

Saturation Diving Orientation (Open Water / Aquarius Interior Dive)

Designing an underwater sampling plan

Assessing coral reef structure

Monitoring seagrass meadow structure

Fish identification of Caribbean coral reef and seagrass environments

Assessing fish community structure