UB's Scientific Diving Program: Making Safety Our Priority
The University of Belize through its Calabash Caye Field Station has been running a scientific diving program under the AAUS (the American Academy of Underwater Sciences) for the last two years. We are happy to announce that we are in the final stages of approval by the AAUS to become full organizational members of this leading diving organization.
What is scientific diving you might be asking and why is UB involved? Scientific diving is defined as diving performed solely as a necessary part of a scientific, research, or educational activities by divers whose sole purpose for diving is to perform scientific research. The tasks of a scientific diver are those of an observer and data gatherer. The ultimate goal of the UB Scientific Diving Program is safety. Safety for the diver, the diver’s buddy, the project, the project’s members, the University and visiting scientific divers. These standards are based on accepted international safe diving practices.
Over the past two years the UB ERI has trained eight staff and over ten students as scientific divers or divers-in-training to ensure that they are following standard and safe diving practices, as we conduct our various monitoring and research programs out at the Turneffe Atoll. This includes having proper training and certification, dive insurance, medical clearance for diving, dive plans, first aid and emergency oxygen supply, emergency management plans, regularly updated dive logs and annual reporting of dive statistics.
This scientific diving program not only builds capacity among our budding marine scientists at UB, by providing dive training and training on species identification and field survey protocols; but it also brings awareness to our staff on the importance of following accepted and standard diving practices to ensure workplace safety and maintain a good diving record. With an internationally recognized diving program, the University through its Calabash Caye Field Station, will be able to attract more scientific diving researchers from the US and abroad, who will be reassured by our international certification and be able to conduct their diving research in a safe and comfortable environment.
Our new Dive Safety Officer, Dr. Leandra Cho-Ricketts, recently attended the 2015 AAUS Symposium in Key West, Florida to receive training and orientation on the duties of a Dive Safety Officer and to be familiarized with the policies and standards of the AAUS scientific diving standards. She is actively working to oversee all UB’s diving activities and diving at CCFS to ensure that they comply with these standards and with good, safe scientific diving practices. UB ERI will be promoting upcoming opportunities for scientific diving training so be on the lookout for these announcements on our websites and Facebook page.
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