Scientific Diving

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre is geographically placed to provide excellent opportunities for pelagic and subtidal research.

All individuals wishing to undertake Scientific Diving at BMSC must notify the Diving & Safety Officer (DSO) well in advance of the proposed commencement of diving activities.


How to obtain your BMSC Scientific Diver status:

Step 1: Contact the DSO

Please read the following carefully, and prepare a list of requirements you currently possess, those requirements you are lacking, and questions you may have.

Contact our DSO, Siobhan Gray, well in advance (60 days advance notice preferred) of your visit to BMSC.

Step 2: Required documents and completed forms

Submit the following to the DSO before arrival at BMSC.

1) A nationally recognized SCUBA certification (such as PADI, ACUC, SSI, CMAS, BSAC, SDI, NAUI).

2) Rescue Diver certification: encouraged, but not required.

  • In order to pass BMSC’s checkout dive, a diver must be able to display rescue techniques. We are able to train you in rescue technique but do not provide certification. We strongly recommend acquiring Rescue Diving certification before coming to BMSC. A Rescue Diver course will provide you with the level of confidence and control in the water that you will need to become an effective Scientific Diver.

3) A current dive medical. See Medical Requirements below for details.

4) Log book as proof of 20 logged SCUBA dives and 10 hours in water or under water, of which 12 dives must be in the last year.*

5) First Aid and CPR certification, valid for the period you plan to be SCUBA diving at BMSC.*

6) Scientific SCUBA Diver Liability Waiver

SCUBA Liability Waiver

7) Scientific SCUBA Diver Clearance Form

SCUBA Clearance Form

8) Certificate or report of regulator service by a qualified technician, completed within the previous 12 months.

9) If you are already a recognized CAUS/AAUS diver, please have the DSO from your institution forward a letter of reciprocity on your behalf.

*In certain circumstances these requirements may be completed at BMSC, under the instruction and discretion of the DSO. Contact the DSO prior to your arrival.

 **Can be completed upon arrival at the BMSC.

10) The CAUS & BMSC written and practical Scientific Diver training and certification

At the DSO’s discretion, a SCUBA diving evaluation, rescue scenario, and training (if needed), will be completed in the ocean at BMSC. An orientation of the diving facilities and additional training, such as oxygen administration, diver rescue, VHF radio use, and boat handling may be required.

We can supply you with the NOAA and DCIEM study material as well as administer the CAUS and BMSC Scientific Diver exam. Upon passing the exam (minimum score 75%) we will conduct a Scientific Diver checkout dive (fee of $75.00).

The checkout dive includes:

  • Diver demonstration of fitness, water skills.
  • Dive skills and rescue technique through to removal of patient from water.
  • Administration of oxygen, first aid and VHS radio conduct.

A diver remains a “Diver-in-Training” until 25 training dives have been conducted alongside a qualified Supervisory Level CAUS Diver. Of these 25 dives, 15 must be supervised training dives, 4 must be supervised working dives, and 6 are to be independent working dives. Completion of these 25 dives fulfills the requirements for a nationally recognized CAUS Level One Scientific Diver certification. CAUS offers a certification card for an additional fee of ~$25.00.
If you are already a recognized CAUS/AAUS diver, we can conduct your annual diver renewal checkout at BMSC (fee of $25.00).

11) BMSC SCUBA diving project proposal with appropriate signatures.**

SCUBA Project Proposal Form

Step 3: Medical Requirements

Students and Divers-in-Training: CAUS Scientific Divers-in-Training may use the BMSC SCUBA medical form to meet standards while acquiring their CAUS Level 1 certification.

Researchers and CAUS-certified Scientific Divers: To dive under the auspice of CAUS post-certification, scientific research divers require an occupational medical from a CSA level 1 Diving Physician.

  • In BC: all members must undergo a CSA approved Occupational Diver Medical and be declared medically fit by a CAUS/WorkSafe/DCBC approved doctor or medical facility. The WorkSafe Occupational Diver Medical approval form must be submitted to the DSO.
  • Outside of BC: an AAUS or CAUS certified diver with a current medical examination meeting your state/province’s Occupational Diver Medical requirements will be recognized by WorkSafe BC for a working period of 6 weeks or less in BC. After a 6-week working period WorkSafe BC then considers you a BC worker and requires either a review of your state/province’s required medical or a new medical conducted by an approved BC physician.

Click here for a list of WorkSafe/CAUS approved licensed physicians qualified to provide SCUBA diving medicals

Step 4: Equipment Requirements

Each SCUBA diver is required to provide and use the following equipment for every dive:

  • Exposure suit
  • Two stage regulator and alternate air source (octopus or pony bottle with regulator).
  • Weighting system with quick release
  • Face mask
  • Buoyancy control device
  • Fins
  • Bottom timer or watch
  • Snorkel
  • Depth gauge
  • Compass (at least one per buddy team)
  • Knife
  • Submersible pressure gauge
  • Whistle
  • Air Cylinder with current VIP & hydrostatic test (BMSC can supply tanks for 3 dives at one time)

Personal dive equipment must be well maintained and kept up to date with service requirements. All dive equipment is subject to check before commencing diving activities and at any time thereafter. If you are unsure as to the suitability of your equipment please consult the DSO.

More details

Scientific Diver classification

Divers are trained and/or evaluated in accordance with CAUS (Canadian Association for Underwater Science) Standards to meet the criteria for Scientific Diver qualification. Individuals are categorized as to their BMSC Scientific Diving status:

  • CAUS Scientific Diver-in-Training (initial classification prior to scientific diver certification)
  • CAUS Scientific Diver 1
  • CAUS Scientific Diver 2
  • Other (at the discretion of the DSO this allows for the recognition of reciprocal/equivalent Scientific Diving status; and under stipulations imposed by the DSO the granting of temporary/visiting diver status in certain circumstances).

BMSC Policy

All diving activities at BMSC are undertaken on a voluntary basis.

Diving activities and training at BMSC are for research or academic purposes only. Sport diving is not permitted.

All diving at BMSC is in accordance with the DCIEM Dive Tables. Dive table description is available upon request.

The Foreshore staff and DSO retains the right to refuse SCUBA diving and boating privileges at BMSC for any individual.

It is the responsibility of every user wishing to SCUBA dive using BMSC facilities to be familiar with the BMSC SCUBA Diving Policy.

BMSC SCUBA Diving Policy

Scientific Diving Fees

  • Initial SCUBA dive checkout: $75.
  • Renewal checkout for recognized CAUS divers: $25.
  • Dives conducted entirely by BMSC divers: $50 per dive (not incl. gas and boat time
  • Dives conducted alongside or assisting researchers underwater: $10 per hour, 1 hour minimum (not incl. gas and boat time)

SCUBA Dive fees are calculated based upon total dive time underwater, per dive (from descent to surfacing).

See Research Services Fees for more details

CAUS Standards

BMSC diving activities are primarily governed by the Canadian Association for Underwater Science (CAUS) (see Standard of Practice for Scientific Diving (PDF)) as (exempted by the Canadian Standards Agency, CSA Standards Z275.2 and Z275.4) & additionally the WCB Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, Part 24: Diving. see CAUS Standards of Practice web site.

Worksafe BC

WorkSafe BC, Part 24, Diving Operations – General requirements.

CAUS/BMSC Scientific Diving deviates from these regulations only in our training and project notification procedures. It is the responsibility of each dive team to have a copy of these regulations at their dive site.

Siobhan Gray
250-728-3301 ext. 222