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 Dive & Safety Officer (DSO)

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

Please read the following carefully, and prepare a list of requirements you currently possess, those requirements you are lacking, and questions you may have, utilizing this checklist and return it to the DSO.

The BMSC scientific diving program is based on the Canadian Association for Underwater Science (CAUS) standards.  This program assists researchers in safely performing underwater studies using the various forms of diving as a scientific tool. The scientific diving program is outlined in the BMSC (WCUMSS) Scientific Diving Manual and has important supplemental information within the BMSC Boat Tending Guide.

All scientific divers and/or snorkelers must have, or be affiliated with a planned or approved project before being accepted into BMSC’ scientific diving program and beginning any underwater research. We recommended submission to the scientific diving safety officer for review and approval at least 60 days prior to the proposed start date of the project.

The boating safety manual and requirements should also be reviewed for training and regulatory requirements if the diving project will involve a BMSC or non-BMSC owned boat. A Boating review form for research conducted outside of Barkley Sound and a field safety plan may also be required as appropriate.

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) Current First Aid and CPR certification.

6) Current oxygen administration for SCUBA diving injuries certificate.

7) Valid personal Diver Alert Network (DAN) insurance.

8) Scientific SCUBA Diver Liability Waiver

SCUBA Liability Waiver

9) Scientific SCUBA Diver Clearance Form

SCUBA Clearance Form

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

11) 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.

12) 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 exam. Upon passing the exam (minimum score 75%) we will conduct Scientific Diver skills and rescue checkouts (associated fees apply).

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, VHF radio conduct and activation of dive accident management systems.

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.
If you are already a recognized CAUS/AAUS diver, we can conduct your annual diver renewal checkouts at BMSC (associated fees apply).

13) All scientific divers and/or snorkelers must have, or be affiliated with, a planned or approved project before being accepted into the program and beginning underwater research. You are recommended to submit your Scientific SCUBA project Plan  to the scientific diving officer for review and approval at least 60 days prior to your proposed start date.

SCUBA Project Proposal Form
BMSC Boating Review Form (Research Outside Barkley Sound)
BMSC Safety Plan Form (Off Campus)

Step 3: Medical Requirements

To dive under the auspice of CAUS post-certification, scientific research divers require an occupational medical from an approved 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.
  • 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

Click here for a list of Diving Control Board of Canada (DCBC) 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 (dry suit)
  • Two stage regulator and alternate air source
  • Weighting system with quick release (BMSC has a limited amount of lead weights to loan to divers coming from outside of province)
  • Face mask
  • Buoyancy control device
  • Fins
  • Bottom timer or watch
  • Snorkel
  • Depth gauge
  • Compass
  • Knife
  • Submersible pressure gauge
  • Whistle
  • Surface Marker Buoy (SMB)
  • Dive light


BMSC provides SCUBA cylinders and fills. Please contact the DSO in advance of diving to ensure your cylinder needs will be able to be met during your proposed diving period. If you are bringing your own SCUBA Cylinders, they must have a current VIP & hydrostatic test

Personal dive equipment must be well maintained and kept up to date with service requirements. All dive equipment is subject to a 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 CAUS status)
  • CAUS Scientific Diver Level 1
  • CAUS Scientific Diver Level 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 to occupational divers in certain circumstances)

BMSC Policy

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

All diving at BMSC is in accordance with CAUS Standards and the use of DCIEM Dive Tables.

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.

CAUS Standards

BMSC diving activities are primarily governed by the Canadian Association for Underwater Science (CAUS) (see Standard of Practice for Scientific Diving) as (exempted by the Canadian Standards Agency, CSA Standards Z275.2 and Z275.4) & additionally the WorkSafe BC 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