The VRG dive program is now a certified scientific diving program that follows all AAUS scientific diver standards. All new divers must be open water certified with a minimum of 12 logged open water dives (not including certification dives), pass a number of practical field exams and a written test, as well as have current first aid, DAN oxygen training and dive insurance. All divers must own their own equipment, and proof of annual regulator service must be submitted to on-campus DSO Laurel Zahn.
First AID and oxygen courses are scheduled once or twice a year at SCMI, or can be done at a number of other locations. Cost of certification, including materials will be around $70 and is tax deductible.
Most diving occurs on Wednesday or Friday from 7am until 4 pm. Many science students take two labs on one day in order to free up a day for diving. VRG divers are also required to work a minimum of 5 hours per week in the lab in order to be eligible to dive.
AAUS, VRG, and Occidental Forms
A series of very important forms can be found here. These form ensure that you (by AAUS standards) are healthy enough, smart enough, and skilled enough to dive. Accidents happen, but the more you are prepared the less likely they are to occur. Occidental College and the VRG require these forms in order for you to dive.
As of January 1 2012, dives MUST be logged through Oxy’s AAUS Logging System.
Cold water diving requires more equipment than many new divers anticipate. Our research is conducted year round, and in winter the water temperature can reach as low as 8ºC. These extreme conditions demand at least a 7mm full-body wetsuit, a hood, gloves, and booties. Many of our divers have purchased Body Glove X2 or Excursion, Henderson H2, Pinnacle, Aqualung SolaFX, or custom made suits. The most important thing do think about when deciding on which wetsuit to buy is fit: it should be snug, but not uncomfortable. A good new wetsuit costs between $250 and $500. A hood, booties, and gloves will cost another $100 to $150. Wetsuits can last between 2 and 4 years, depending on how much diving is done. At up to 200 dives per year, my wetsuits begin to disintegrate after about 6 months
A variety of BCs are available and range from $300 to over $500. Our divers wear a variety of weight systems, including integrated, soft-pack weight belts, solid lead weight belts, or a leaded backplate. There are BCs that are cut for women, such as the Seaquest Libra which offer a more comfortable fit for female divers.
A quality regulator is a must for the amount and type of diving we do. There are first stages and second stages to think about. The major differences in types of regulators are balanced and unbalanced systems. Balanced systems provide a consistent, comfortable airflow to the second stage no matter what the depth, or how much air you have. Divers who have had to “suck” the air out of their tank at depth or on a nearly empty bottle were most likely breathing through an unbalanced system. Our diving is mostly shallow water, so either will do, but you should think about any other diving you might do later on. Your regulator is a long term investment. Regulators range from $300 to well over $600.
Most diving done today is with the aid of a dive computer. They maximize bottom time while allowing divers to stay well within their no-decompression limits by constantly recalculating dive tables based on depth and dive time. Computers can be attached to gauges, or worn separately. Prices range from $300-$1000.
If price is a concern, a simple depth gauge, compass and air pressure gauge can be purchased for about $150, however you will have to strictly adhere to dives planned using conservative dive tables.
This basic gear should be as comfortable as possible. When buying a mask, one thing should be on your mind: best fit. Sometimes the cheapest mask fits the best, other times, its the most expensive. As you gain more experience, you might find that you prefer certain features, like a nose purge, but comfort and fit is a must.
Fins come in a variety of styles. The two major types are split fin and solid fin technology. Split fins generate thrust with minimal effort, however overall power is compromised. Some of our divers with ankle and knee injuries swear by split fins. I prefer the very short, stiff “jet-fins” because of the power that comes out with each kick without the sideways torque. Once again, fit is the most important thing to consider.
Where to Buy:
Dive n’ Surf – Located just down the block from King Harbor. Plenty of gear and Jocko is lightning fast with repairs.
Pacific Wilderness – Located near SCMI in San Pedro. Quick turnaround on repairs, a lot of equipment, and often some of the best prices in town.
New England Divers - Located near CSULB in Long Beach. A great option for equipment, rentals and air fills during the AAUS scientific diving course with Jim Cvitanovich.
- Vantuna Research Group:
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
- Phone: (323) 259-2955
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org