Becoming an AAUS Diver

How do I earn an AAUS Science Diving Certification?

Scientific Divers at MLML are students, staff, and faculty members of MLML that are involved in subtidal research, thesis projects, or class projects that require diving. There are approximately 60 divers currently certified and together they conduct about 1500 dives a year.

Scientific Diver Certification Requirements

There are several ways to earn an AAUS Scientific Diver Certification at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML). If the applicant has limited 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 the requirements and enroll in either MS 105 Marine Science Diving or the Summer AAUS Scientific Dive Course. If the applicant meets the criteria above, download and complete the first 8 items on the list below and email the complete package as a single PDF to the Diving Safety Officer, Diana Steller ( If you have completed an AAUS Scientific Diving Course at another institution, please see transferring certifications.

  1. Diver Information Application - Completed, including a summary of diving experience.
  2. Certification cards - copy all SCUBA certification cards, including DAN membership, DAN insurance coverage if you have it (strongly suggested), 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. 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 Template - Provide proof of diving activity, and a log of the 12 most recent dives on an MLML dive log form.
  6. Read the 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. Computer Form - To use a computer for diving at MLML you must have a copy of the users manual, show proof of knowledge for use, and download and sign the MLML Computer guidelines. 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: weight belt or integrated pockets and your own personal weight (10% of your body weight + 4-6 lbs), buoyancy compensator (with appropriate clips for avoiding dangling gear), regulator with octopus, mask, snorkel, 7mm wetsuit minimum, 5mm gloves, 5mm or 7mm booties, 5mm hood, timing device (minimum water resistant to 50m), dive computer, 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, save-a-dive kit, and dive light (minimum one, preferable to have 2).
  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. Openwater 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.