Scientific Diving Training at Florida International University



James Fourqurean

Professor, Biological Sciences


Roger Garcia

FIU Diving Safety Officer


Aarin Allen

FIU Boating Safety Officer and Assistant DSO


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 Spring semester 2020 students will pay a lab fee of $1161 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 $793. 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 register and pay their lab fees here. 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 that includes, among other things, the ability to swim 400 yards in 12 minutes, to swim 25 yards underwater on a single breath, and to tread water for 15 minutes.

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 turned in 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, if they cannot pass the swim test, and if they cannot exhibit competence in underwater skills.

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 Spring 2020

Class Schedule and assignments. Red text indicates in-person meeting of the class. For each on-line assignment, click on the hyperlink, review the class materials, and answer the study questions at the end of the presentation. Make a pdf file of your grade report from each assignment, and email them to Dr. Fourqurean by 5pm Miami time on the date listed.






FIU MMC Campus, WC 130

09:00 - 16:00

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



Diving Physics



Diving Physiology



AAUS Diving History and Regulations




Diver and Diving Support Equipment




Handling of High Pressure Cylinders




Dive Planning




Decompression Profiling


FIU BBC pool

10:00 - 13:00

Swim Test, SCUBA Diving Evaluation, Check Out Dive (Pool). NOTE: You MUST have a completed dive physical turned in to the DSO by this date)








Accident Management




Hazardous Aquatic Life




Diving Under Special Conditions



Procedures for Scientific Diving



Hyperbaric Chambers & Support Equipment


Aquarius Reef Base, Islamorada


In-class review and In class written and practical final exam

15-20 Dec

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)

Scientific Monitoring Equipment and Cable Deployment (Open Water)

Small Pneumatic Tool Orientation (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