Authorization & Training

scientific diving requirements


Scientific Diving Authorization

In order to engage in scientific diving activities under the auspices of Scripps/UC San Diego, the Scripps Diving Safety Officer, acting on the behalf of the Diving Control Board, must issue a Scripps Scientific Diving Authorization.  Scientific diving is not authorized until:

  • All aspects of scientific diver certification are current per standards outlined in the Scripps' Manual for Diving Safety; and
  • A Scripps Dive Plan, submitted via UCSD’s Webdiver portal, has been reviewed and approved by the Scripps Diving Safety Officer and/or Diving Control Board.

Scientific diving authorization requires the following:

  • Submission of the Scripps Scientific Diver Application via UCSD’s Webdiver portal;
  • Current Scripps Diving Medical Clearance (valid for 5 years for those under 40 years of age, 3 for those between 40-60 years, and 2 for those over 60).
  • Completion of the Scripps 100-hour scientific diving course or equivalent (to be considered by the DCB on a case by case basis);
  • Current (every 2 years) Diving First Aid (CPR w/AED, first aid, oxygen administration, field neurological examination) training (DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers is preferred);
  • Manufacturer recommended equipment service and SIO’s annual equipment inspection;
  • Written examination; and
  • $200 annual diver fee.
  • 12 dives must be logged annually, with at least one dive every 6 months logged near the divers maximum authorized depth.

Diving Plan Policies

The ultimate responsibility for safety rests with the individual diver.  It is the diver's responsibility and duty to refuse to dive if, in their judgment, conditions are unsafe or unfavorable, or if they would be violating the precepts of their training or the regulations outlined in the SIO Diving Safety Manual.

A dive plan must be submitted via UCSD’s Webdiver portal and approved by the DSO or DCB prior to proposed operation for all scientific diving projects.  Remote or field projects must be submitted for review 4 weeks prior to the start of the project.

Though UCSD affords workers compensation coverage to employees and graduate students working within the scope of their authorization and on an approved dive plan, supplemental dive accident and travel insurance from Divers Alert Network and/or UCOP is necessary for all remote or international field work.

Scientific Diver Training Course

The Scripps/UC San Diego Scientific Diving Course is a 100-hour course required of anyone wishing to use SCUBA for their scientific research or employment under the auspices of UC San Diego.  3 courses are planned annually and include 2 consolidated courses conducted over 12 days in June and September and more extended option conducted throughout March and over Spring Break. 

The course curriculum includes:

  • Physics and Physiology of Diving, Decompression Theory and Dive Planning, Equipment and Environmental Considerations,  Scripps Scientific Diving Program and Policy, and subtidal sampling techniques;
  • Dive Rescue;
  • Diving Emergency First Aid (CPR, first aid, oxygen administration, field neurological examination, and hazardous marine life,) training;
  • Nitrox;
  • Written Scripps Scientific Diver examination; and
  • 12+ supervised open water dives.

Minimum course prerequisites include:

  • Entry-level diver certification from an internationally-recognized SCUBA training agency; 
  • Submission of the Scripps Scientific Diver Application via UCSD’s Webdiver portal;
  • Scripps Diving Medical Clearance; UCSD’s Diving Medicine Clinic is highly recommended and can be reached 619-471-9210.  You may use your personal physician provided they complete all tests indicated for an Initial Exam. 
  • Swimming and Skin Diving Evaluation; All participants in the Diving Course must exhibit swimming and watermanship skills appropriate for SCUBA activities.

In confined water, participants must:        

  1. Swim underwater without fins for a distance of 25 yards without surfacing;
  2. Swim 400 yards in less than 12 minutes without swim aids;
  3. Tread water for 10 minutes, or 2 minutes without the use of hands, without swim aids; and
  4. Without the use of swim aids, transport a person of equal size a distance of 25 yards in the water.

In open water participants should:

  • Swim to the end of the Scripps Pier (~1,000’) and back, including a successful surface dive to the bottom (~18'-20').
  • Equipment Requirements; Students are to provide a mask, snorkel, fins, exposure suit (7mm wetsuit, hood, booties, gloves), dive timing device or diving computer, weight belt, weights (~16-20 lbs), and a dive bag. The Scripps Dive locker has BCs, regulators, gauges, cutting devices, and lights available for the class, though it is strongly recommended that participants purchase their own personal dive equipment.  

Please consult with Rich Walsh, Diving Locker Supervisor, prior to any gear purchase to discuss your best options and pricing.

DAN’s Diving First Aid for Professional Divers (DFA Pro)

DAN's Diving First Aid for Professional Divers (DFA Pro) course is designed for commercial, professional, aquarium and scientific divers, providing first-aid knowledge and skills specific to these work environments.  It meets U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for workplace CPR and first aid and is the prefered diving first aid training program for the Scripps/UC San Diego Scientific Diving Program. Courses are planned monthly.

Specialized Scientific Diving Techniques

The Scripps/UC San Diego Scientific Diving Program conducts or coordinates specialized diver training and scientific diving techniques as needed and approved by the DCB. These include use of nitrox and mixed gases, drysuits, closed circuit rebreathers, diver propulsion vehicles, blue-water diving procedures, and underwater photography.


WebDiver Portal

Diving Safety Manual

COVID-19 Guidelines:

UCSD Diving Medical Clinic



Christian McDonald

Scientific Diving Safety Officer
Phone: (858) 534-2002
Cell: (858) 245-6979
Fax: (858) 246-0072
Office: MSDC-A 106

Rich Walsh

Assistant Diving Safety Officer, Diving Locker Supervisor
Phone: (858) 534-6979
Cell: (858) 245-7141
Office: Scripps Diving Locker

Chad Brewer

Diving Program Technician
Phone: (858) 534-7189
Office: Scripps Diving Locker

Jessica Hallisey

Marine and Field Research Safety Training Coordinator
Phone: (858) 822-5973
Office: MSDC-A 104


Mailing Address

Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Mail Code 0210
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92093-0210

Shipping Address

Diving Safety Program
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
8660 Discovery Way, Building T-40
La Jolla, CA 92037


M. Dale Stokes, PhD (Chair)
Research Oceanography, Marine Physical Laboratory
Phone: (858) 822-2608

Mohammad Sedarat
Graduate Student, Marine Biology Research Division
Phone: N/A

William Gerwick, PhD
Professor, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Phone: (858) 534-0578

Paul Jensen, PhD
Research Microbiologist, Center of Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine
Phone: (858) 534-7322

Michael Lang
Asst Adjunct Professor, Emergency Medicine
Phone: (619) 302-3080

James Leichter, PhD
Associate Professor, Integrative Oceanography Division
Phone: (858) 822-5330

Christian McDonald
Scientific Diving Safety Officer, SIO Director’s Office
Phone: (858) 534-2002

Edith Mitchell
Risk Management Manager
Phone: (858) 232-6122

Jennifer Moffatt
Director/Husbandry, Birch Aquarium
Phone: (858) 246-1792

Kristin Riser
Staff Research Associate, Integrative Oceanography Division
Phone: (858) 534-2059

Isabel Rivera-Collazo
Assistant Professor, Anthropology
Phone: (858) 534-2059

Karen Van Hoesen, MD
Clinical Physician/Director, UCSD Diving Medicine
Phone: (619) 543-6463

Rich Walsh
Assistant Diving Safety Officer/Diving Locker Supervisor, SIO Director’s Office
Phone: (858) 534-6979

Phil Zerofski
Marine Technician/Collector, Marine Biology Research Division
Phone: (858) 534-4777

Brian Zgliczynski
Postdoctoral Researcher, Marine Biology Research Division
Phone: (858) 534-8783


Paul Dayton, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Integrative Oceanography Division
Phone: (858) 534-6740

Mike Kirk
Senior Engineer, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics
Phone: N/A

Ted Molinski
Professor, UCSD Chemistry/Biochemistry
Phone: (858) 822-6971