The Occidental College dive program is a certified scientific diving program that follows all AAUS scientific diver standards.
2016 AAUS Scientific Diving Courses
All divers must be AAUS certified before they can participate in Occidental's dive program. The Ocean Studies Institute (OSI) AAUS Research Divers Certification Program is a 14 day course focused on technical, academic and scientific diving skills. During the course divers will complete a total of 14 dives which include, boat dives, deep water dive, night dive, beach dive, and aquarium dive. The course concludes with an overnight trip to Catalina Island to conduct various types of technical dives including a night dive, and the culmination of rescue training. If you are interested in enrolling in this course, please visit the OSI website or contact Matt Robart, our on-campus Dive Safety Officer for more information.
Winter 2016 Research Dive Course
January 3rd - 17th; Application Deadline: December 3rd, 2015
Information for Student and Volunteer AAUS Certified Divers
All Occidental dive program participants are expected to provide and maintain their own dive gear (see below for equipment requirements, we provide tanks). Divers are also expected to log all program dives through Oxy’s AAUS Logging System. Dive days are usually scheduled for Wednesday and Friday, but could be any weekday depending on staff schedules and the weather.
Before you start diving for the Vantuna Research Group, you must submit the following to our on-campus Dive Safety Officer, Matt Robart.
- a letter of reciprocity from your DSO
- proof of annual regulator service
- proof of active DAN dive insurance
- current certification for first aid, CPR, and DAN oxygen administration
- create a user through Oxy’s AAUS Logging System
- a signed copy of either the Occidental Student SCUBA Waiver or the Volunteer SCUBA Waiver
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. Any wetsuit 7mm or thicker will work. Our staff scientists prefer the Aqualung SolaFX, or custom made suits from local companies like JMJ and Coral Reef. 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.
Buoyancy Compensator Device
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.
Computers and Gauges
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. Several divers in our program use the Zoop by Suunto, which is relatively inexpensive and easy to operate. Prices for a dive computer 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.
Mask and Fins
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. Some of us 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.
Other Required Equipment
A dive knife or other cutting tool is required to dive in our program. Some divers prefer scissors over a dive knife, but most of our program divers dive with a knife, either attached to their BC or strapped to their calf.
Where to Buy:
Located just down the block from King Harbor. Plenty of gear and Jocko is lightning fast with repairs.
Located near SCMI in San Pedro. Quick turnaround on repairs, a lot of equipment, and often some of the best prices in town.
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