Penn State Scientific Diving

The Penn State Scientific Diving Program is an administrative unit functioning under the Office for Research Protections. The Program supervises all Scientific-Diving symbolcompressed gas diving for scientific and educational purposes under Penn State policy RP09 - Scientific Diving at Penn State.

The Program is administered by a Diving Control Board and the operations of the program are defined by a set of Dive Standards.

The Penn State Scientific Diving Program is an Organizational Member of the American Academy of Underwater Scientific (AAUS).

Solely recreational diving operates under the student organization -- Nittany Divers -- and Penn State Outdoor Adventures, and adheres to an independent Standard Operating Procedure. Recreational dive courses are also available for credit through the Department of Kinesiology.

Become a Certified Scientific Diver

Before you apply for entry into the scientific diver program at Penn State, please review our process to become a certified scientific diver.

Participation in the Penn State Scientific Diving Program is by application only. The application process includes a signed waiver of liability and requires a medical exam. Medical exams are also required at periodic intervals in order to maintain active diving status. A Dive Medical History Form must be completed each year and submitted to the Scientific Diving Program. Complete the dive application process in the Bloop diving management system.

Managing Compliance within the Program

Scientific divers must be up to date on relevant certifications and training. A diver can track their compliance using the online diving management system called Bloop. After logging into Bloop, the appendicies listed below can be located on the left-side menu under "Documents". We recommend bookmarking the Applying to the Dive Program web page as it has many useful tutorials to help you navigate Bloop. Learn what documents you need to upload to Bloop by visiting the Applying to the Dive Program web page.  Additional information can be found in our frequently asked questions section below. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

Participants are required to submit a log of each dive (accomplished under the auspices of Penn State) which must be done in the Bloop diving management system:

Appendix Name  [Bloop Certification Name]

  • Appendix 6 AAUS Medical Evaluation of Fitness for SCUBA Diving Report --> [Medical Exam / Dive Fitness Physical]
  • Appendix 6b AAUS Medical Evaluation of Fitness for SCUBA Diving Report & APPLICANT'S RELEASE OF MEDICAL INFORMATION FORM --> [Medical Information Release Form]
  • Appendix 7 Diving Medical History Form --> [Medical History]
  • Appendix 9 PSU Diver Questionnaire --> [Emergency Contact Information]
  • Appendix 10 Application for Diving Certification – Diving Resume --> [Diving Resume]
  • Appendix 11 Scientific Diving – Safe Diving Practices --> [Standards for Scientific Diving Manual]
  • Appendix 12 Statement of Voluntary Consent General Release & Waiver of Liability --> [Liability Waiver]

Approval for Scientific Diving Plans

The Diving Control Board or its delegate, the Diving Safety Officer, must approve all scientific diving conducted by Penn State researchers, staff, and students. No scientific diving should be conducted unless the dive plan has been approved.  Before submitting your plan for approval, please see the Penn State manual of Standards for Scientific Diving.  You can submit your diving plan for review by completing the process in the Bloop diving management system.

Dive plans should be submitted to the DSO through Bloop at least 2 weeks prior to diving.


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Wetsuit Recycling

Did you know that wetsuits can be recycled into material for children's playgrounds? Learn more about how to recycle your old wetsuits through TerraCycle


Student Opportunities

Learn more about a number of student opportunities for those interested in scientific diving:  Read about some of our student success stories.

Scientific Divers in Action

See videos of Penn State scientific divers in action across the globe!  Visit

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is the difference between a Dive Project and Dive Plan?

A brief description of each one is listed below. 


Dive Project: A Dive Project establishes the location, objective and considerations of the project, as well as the Principal Investigators and divers who will be diving under the research project.  Scientific Divers no longer need to create their own Dive Project before creating a Dive Plan. Instead, a generalized program-wide Dive Project has been created for all divers to use. The name of the program-wide Dive Project is called “Research Dives.” This project should be selected for your research dives whereas the “Proficiency and Training Dives” Dive Project can be selected for dives that are completed for training purposes only.  

Dive Plan: The Dive Plan, on the other hand, captures information that describe the activity, anticipated hazards, emergency action plan, etc. of the planned dive.  

How are Dive Plans reviewed?

The Dive Safety Officer (DSO) is responsible for reviewing Dive Plans. There are some occasions when the DSO may ask the Diving Control Board (DCB) to review a Dive Plan as well. Examples include, but are not limited to, requests that are outside of the Standards for Scientific Diving Manual. 

How far in advance does a Dive Plan need to be submitted before traveling to the dive site?

A Dive Plan should be submitted a minimum of two weeks prior to the date that the first dive is scheduled. This allows time for the DSO to review the Dive Plan and ask questions before it is submitted.  

What types of Dive Plans/other items need DCB approval?

Examples of Dive Plans that would require DCB approval may include but are not limited to the following.

  • A Dive Plan that includes non-Penn State divers who are certified by an organization other than AAUS. 
  • Requests that deviate from the minimal safety standards for scientific diving, which are outlined in the Standards for Scientific Diving Manual. 
  • Requests for a diver who returned to a Diver in Training Status but was unable to meet all of the requirements to return back to a Scientific Diver (due to non-compliance or otherwise). 

How complete does my Dive Plan need to be? Can I fill in some information when I return from my trip?

Bloop requires certain fields to be completed before you can submit a Dive Plan. All of the information that demonstrates you will be complying with the requirements as stated in the Standards for Scientific Diving Manual needs to be provided upfront.   

What criteria constitutes a scientific dive?

As outlined in Univeristy Policy RP09 Scientific Diving at Penn State:  “Scientific Diving” is diving performed solely as a necessary part of a scientific, research, or educational activity by employees and students whose sole purpose for diving is to perform scientific research, scientific teaching and training, and/or scientific outreach tasks.  See Title 29 CFR 1910 Subpart T, Appendix B, “Guidelines for Scientific Diving,” Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA).

If I am traveling for personal reasons and think I may be able to dive, what criteria is needed to count the dives I complete towards my 12 required dives per year?

This would be considered on a case-by-case basis. At minimum a dive plan should be submitted importantly including that emergency oxygen will be onsite.

What is the process to request a dive that counts towards a scientific dive with a non-Penn State diver that is certified by an entity other than AAUS?

The request to dive with a non-Penn State diver can be made under the Activity Description of your Dive Plan in Bloop. There is a “Documents” section where the supporting information can be uploaded.

What information/acceptable qualifications are needed from non-Penn State divers who are certified by entities other than AAUS so that my diving is accomplished in compliance with PSU standards?

The information needed may vary on a case-by-case basis. However, the information below provides a few examples of what a non-Penn State diver would need to provide for you to submit with your Dive Plan:

  • Evidence of certification – SCUBA and highest level of SCUBA certification
  • Evidence of current first aid/CPR training.  
  • Evidence of a medical evaluation of fitness for diving.  
  • A letter from the diver’s supervisor stating that they will be diving under the auspices of their institution. 
  • Documentation that their equipment has been maintained to manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Can checkout dives be completed in a pool?

No, they must be done in open water.

Are there tutorials available on how to use Bloop?

Instructions can be found on the Scientific Diving website. 

Where can the Standards for Scientific Diving Manual refresher slides be found?

The Manual refresher slides can be found in Bloop and in Canvas. Access to the location In Canvas can be requested by emailing In Bloop, the slides can be found under the “Courses” tab.