Becoming an AAUS Diver

Scientific Diver Certification Requirements

There are generally 2 ways to earn an AAUS Scientific Diver Certification at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML):

1) If the applicant has limited diving experience (i.e. <25 dives), has no diving experience in cold water (50 °F), and/or has limited experience in kelp forests, then the applicant should check enrollment requirements and register for either MS 105 Marine Science Diving (Fall semester).

2) If the applicant meets the criteria above, please complete the Diver Information Application and email a complete documents package (items 2-8) as a single PDF to the diving operations program admin ( If you have completed an AAUS Scientific Diving Course at another institution, please refer to transferring certifications.

Required Documents

  1. Diver Information Application – Completed, including a summary of diving experience and most recent time on unassisted, 400yd swim.
  2. Certification cards – copy all SCUBA certification cards, including DAN membership, DAN insurance coverage, CPR, First Aid, and Emergency Oxygen.
  3. Medical Exam – A current diving medical is required to dive with MLML’s research diving program. Anyone interested in diving must obtain a diving medical from a licensed physician before they can SCUBA dive. The student Health Center on consortium campuses can usually perform the required tests at reduced costs, but needs to be scheduled several weeks in advance. If possible, complete this medical exam prior to arriving at MLML.
    • Current MLML divers must have a new medical done every 5 years until age 40, every 3 years after age 40 until age 60, every 2 years after age 60, and after any diving accident.
    • Additional testing is required for divers over the age of 40 and can be found in the medical exam.
    • Additional testing may be required if prior COVID infection has occurred.
    • Diver must sign the release and verify that a medical practitioner and not a physician assistant, signed off on the form. It is only necessary to send pages 1-4 of the medical exam in the PDF to the DSO.
  4. MLML Dive Waiver – Read it, sign it, date it, and have it witnessed.
  5. MLML Dive Log – Provide proof of diving activity, and a log of the 12 most recent dives on an MLML dive log form.
  6. MLML Standards for Scientific Diving – Read the MLML Standards for Scientific Diving manual, then download and complete the MLML Manual Agreement Form, signifying that you have read the regulations and listed emergency contact information.
  7. MLML Computer Guidelines – To use a computer for diving at MLML you must have a copy of the users manual, show proof of knowledge for use. Then complete Dive Computer Quiz of your understanding.
  8. MLML Equipment Form – Download and submit this form listing the equipment you own, the year purchased, and the service history. A check of your diving gear will be made before the open water dives. Proof of annual servicing is required at time of entry into the program.

    • Required equipment includes:
      • ditchable weight system (ex. belt, integrated pockets,harness) and your own personal weight (10% of your body weight + 4-6 lbs)
      • buoyancy compensator (with whistle and appropriate clips for avoiding dangling gear)
      • regulator – must have a primary 2nd stage, and an octopus, LP inflator hose and gauges including an SPG. 
        If BCD has an integrated air source, divers must also carry an octopus for ‘COVID-safer’ air sharing. 
        All divers must have an analog SPG.
      • mask & snorkel
      • 7mm wetsuit minimum
      • 5mm gloves
      • 5mm or 7mm booties
      • 5mm hood (omit if hood is integrated with wetsuit)
      • timing device (minimum water resistant to 50m), depth gauge and dive tables OR dive computer + manual
      • compass
      • cutting tool (safety shears or dive knife with strap)
      • equipment bag (that fits all of your gear)
      • smaller mesh goodie bag (that fits mask, fins, and snorkel) for boat diving
      • personal save-a-dive kit
      • dive light (minimum one, preferable to have 2)
      • gear storage container (ex. Action Packer Tote / Tough Storage Tote)
  9. Written Examination – A thorough written exam must be completed. This is given upon the receipt of a full application.
  10. Pool Evaluation – All pool tests must be passed in order to continue in either course. It is recommended that you practice these skills before the actual pool evaluations.
  11. Open-water Evaluation – The initial check out dive will include surf or boat entry, a surface swim of 400 yd., descent, neutral buoyancy, mask clearing, mask removal and replacement, regulator retrieval and clearing, simulated air sharing, simulated emergency swimming ascent, a normal ascent, and rescue scenarios.