By Stephanie Medo:
Scientific Diving is scuba diving with the intent to work underwater to pursue scientific knowledge. If you choose to become a scientific diver with USF it can be very rewarding and allow you the opportunity to see beautiful places and creatures. Not only will you get the chance to travel but you collect data for scientific research and help make a difference in conservation or build knowledge. However, it can also be stressful and dangerous, you need to ensure that you understand the safety measures of scuba diving and take them seriously.
Let’s begin with the basics; to become a scientific diver with USF you must be, at minimum, an open water scuba diver. Once this is complete you will need to pass a series of check out dives and swim tests with USF’s diving safety officer. USF does a great job of laying out the details of becoming a scientific diver in the following link:
The website provides you with a checklist, PowerPoint presentation with step-by-step directions, waiver, health documentation and more. I’m going to be honest, I was very overwhelmed when first presented with the information. I was wondering if I would have enough time to complete all my certifications, would I be able to pass the swim test? Or would I even enjoy scuba diving? I was presented with two options, complete all the certifications on my own or take a scientific diving course with USF. There are two scientific diving professors on campus, Dr. Chantale Begin and Dr. Jason Gulley. The course provides you with all the books to read on scuba diving and every certification you need, plus more. Throughout the course you will become First Aid and CPR certified, Nitrox certified and can eventually become a Rescue Diver. The course will involve diving throughout the semester to master basic scuba skills. Once this is complete you start to add on more tasks to be able to conduct different surveys underwater. Adding small tasks underwater may seem easy but comes with added pressure, literally. A small task like navigating to a certain coordinate can seem simple at the surface but once underwater you are not able to communicate with your buddy and need to always remain calm, even if you are lost. Scuba diving is tolling on the buddy, it may not seem like it when you are swimming around looking at marine life, but you are always excreting energy, especially once task loaded.
USF offers many additional research programs that allow you to continue to scientifically dive and use your certifications. This is such an amazing opportunity that USF offers, and I am so grateful I get to be a part of this. I highly recommend it to any avid scuba diver or anyone looking to get started. I’ll see you underwater!
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. In 2019 and 2021, the course went to the Carmabi research station in Curaçao and dived around the island over a 10-day period, for training and to carry out research projects. In 2018, the group went to Soufriere, Saint Lucia, and took part in various projects in partnership with the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.