Program contact: Vin Malkoski

A diver uses a slate to record underwater observations.
A diver uses a slate to record underwater observations.

The MarineFisheries Scientific Diving Program was established in the late 1970s to manage scientific diving conducted under the auspices of the Division. The use of diving to collect or directly observe marine organisms is a valuable, scientifically valid technique that provides very high resolution data and the ability to observe behavior without the limitations imposed by laboratory experiments.

In 1989, the MarineFisheries Scientific Diving Policy was updated to comply with the scientific diving exemption from the OSHA commercial diving standards to promote the protection of scientific divers from accidental injury and/or illness and to set forth standards for training and diving operations. The policy created a Diving Control Board (DCB) to establish and maintain certification, health, and equipment standards and ensure that all MarineFisheries divers are qualified to work as scientific divers. The Scientific Diving Policy also provided for the appointment of a Diving Safety Officer (DSO) to conduct the day-to-day operation of the diving program and ensure operational safety.

Research and collaborative projects supported by the MarineFisheries Scientific Diving Program include:

  • Artificial reef construction and monitoring
  • Eelgrass restoration and monitoring
  • Habitat mapping
  • Lobster population dynamics
  • Shellfish collection and gear evaluation
  • Tagging and temperature instrument placement
  • Whale-safe neutral buoy line research

Outreach and Educational:

  • Bay State Council of Divers
  • MA Marine Educators workshops and career day events
  • Participation with the Association of Dive Program Administrators (ADPA) and the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS)
  • Program-related Elementary and Dive Club diving presentations
  • Support of Project REEF Environmental Education Foundation (REEF’s) volunteer efforts in New England

With the formation of the Marine Fisheries Institute (MFI), a collaborative effort to develop and operate a structured scientific diving program joined the practical experience and operational knowledge of MarineFisheries with the expertise and educational capabilities of the UMass School of Marine Science and Technology. This structured scientific diving program benefits the MFI and MarineFisheries through the collection of needed data and provides graduate students with majors in marine science and technology an opportunity to gain proficiency in techniques that will better prepare them to compete for jobs and function in the workplace.