• Volunteer diver tending to coral at Steinhart Academy
  • Volunteer diver in the Philippine Coral Reef tank
  • Academy research divers in the Philippines
  • Volunteer diver interacting with Academy visitors
  • Academy research diver
  • Twilight zone divers place fish into a decompression chamber

The Diving Safety Office oversees all diving operations conducted by Academy staff, either to conduct field research or to maintain aquarium exhibits and care for live animals. The Academy's dive program provides comprehensive standards for the conduct of all diving operations and meets the requirements of the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as the standards of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS). When the program originated in the 1980s, it oversaw the activities of only a handful of divers. Today the dive program supports nearly a hundred divers, with operations ranging from aquarium biologists and volunteers diving in Steinhart Aquarium to researchers documenting biodiversity in some of the world's most remote tropical locations. Learn more about various aspects of the program below.

Volunteer Diving

volunteer diver in Philippine Coral Reef tank

The Academy's volunteer dive program conducts more dives onsite than any other program. Volunteers from all walks of life collectively spend more than 6,000 hours annually diving and maintaining the Academy's aquarium facilities. Our team of volunteers gear up for three dives a day and present more than 700 educational dive shows each year. While the application process can be long and the requirements rigorous, working at the Academy as a volunteer diver is extremely rewarding and a great way to give back to the community.

Aquarium Husbandry Diving

Aquarium divers

The exhibits in Steinhart Aquarium are some of the best representations of natural marine ecosystems in the world. These beautiful communities of organisms couldn't function the way they do without the aquarium's husbandry staff caring for them on a daily basis. Aquarium biologists dive in many of our large exhibits in order to maintain the systems and care for the organisms found in each. In addition to their work at the aquarium, our husbandry divers often participate in research expeditions and conservation efforts.

  • Cleaner wrasse in action
    Cleaner wrasses
  • Cleaner wrasse in action
    Cleaner wrasses
  • Cleaner wrasse in action
    Cleaner wrasses

Research Diving

Scientific diver rolling into the water

From the Philippines and the Red Sea to Ascension Island, Academy research divers travel the world seeking to discover and document the biodiversity of the world’s oceans. Our scientific divers discovered more than 300 new species during just two field seasons in the Philippines' Verde Island Passage in 2014 and 2015. 

Mesophotic Diving

A mesophotic diver during a decompression stop

Among our group of scientific divers is an interdisciplinary team specialized in exploring mesophotic coral ecosystems. This region of depth has been dubbed the “twilight zone” by researchers because it exists between the well-lit surface waters and the complete darkness of the deeper ocean. The team uses rebreather technology to study life between 40 and 150 meters below the ocean surface, well past the depth range of conventional scuba but shallower than ROVs and submarines typically operate.

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