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News & Announcements

Huish Outdoors Recall - 07/31/18

Huish Outdoors has recalled approximately 4500 Oceanic and Hollis scuba diving regulators. The scuba diving regulators can restrict airflow at low tank pressures (below 500 psi), posing a drowning hazard to divers. Customer should contact Huish Outdoors toll-free at 888-270-8595 (ext 4) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday or online at www.Hollis.comand http://www.OceanicWorldwide.comand click on recall at top of page, or https://recall.hollis.comand http://recall.oceanicworldwide.comfor more information.


University of Alaska Southeast Dive Semester - 07/31/18

Students interested in fisheries, diving, and marine biology can round out their studies with a field-based program in Sitka, Alaska in the Spring of 2018 (January 14 - May 03). Students will have the opportunity to work with UAS faculty and become accomplished research divers. Over the semester, students will learn everything from basic dive skills, to underwater rescue procedures, to underwater data collection techniques and will become familiar with local fish and invertebrate species while participating in new and ongoing marine-related research projects. Additionally, students will develop skills in basic skiff handling and small engine maintenance techniques. For more information, visit http://divesemester.alaska.edu/or contact Dr. Reid Brewer at 907-747-7799.

Women Divers Hall of Fame Inducts 2018 Class - 04/30/18

The Women Divers Hall of Fame proudly inducted their 2018 new members at the Beneath the Sea Awards Banquet in Secaucus, New Jersey on Saturday, March 24, 2018.

This year’s outstanding inductees include: Diana Hollingshead, Eugene, Oregon, USA – Instructor, Scientific Diver, Marine Biologist; Nathalie Lasselin, Montreal, Quebec, Canada – Explorer, Filmmaker, Speaker; Sharon Kwok Pong, Hong Kong, China – Marine Conservationist, Wildlife Protection Activist, Environmental Advocate; Erin Quigley, Los Angeles, California, USA – Photographer, Educator, Speaker; Patty Seery, Durham, North Carolina, USA – Educator, Women’s Advocate, Facilitator; and Patricia Wuest, Maitland, Florida, USA – Dive Magazine Journalist, Scuba Gear Tester, Ocean Conservationist.

"This eagerly anticipated celebration of women divers from around the world is a special opportunity to honor women who have made a contribution in many different segments of the diving industry,” points out WDHOF Board Member Bonnie Toth. “We look forward every year to the induction ceremony and all of the opportunities to get together with so many of our sea sisters.”

For a list of current members, biographies, nomination requirements and deadlines visit www.WDHOF.org.

2019 AAUS Diving for Science Symposium Host - 10/24/17

Please be reminded that all proposals to host the 2019 AAUS Diving for Science Symposium must be submitted to the AAUS office no later than December 30, 2017.  Please contact the office for information on what should be included with the proposal.  If you submitted a proposal in 2017 and would like to resubmit, please contact the AAUS office.

The Antarctica Series - 05/30/17

Join Rob Robbins (2016 AAUS Conrad Limbaugh Awardee) in four virtual-reality films that take you on, above and below the Antarctic ice. This film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival, was featured in the New York Times and will show at Cannes later in the month. This amazing VR experience is just like being there only not as cold!


Four virtual-reality films that take you on, above and below the Antarctic ice. - 05/18/17

Join the 2016 AAUS Conrad Limbaugh award winner, Rob Robbins, as he takes you on a VR tour of the waters of Antarctica. It's just like being there, but not as COLD! This film is featured by the NY Times, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and will show at Cannes later this month.


Spring 2017 Presidential Update - 03/31/17

Presidents Message - Spring BOD Meeting 2017

The AAUS Board of Directors held its annual spring meeting February 25-26 in Durham N.C. It was a productive meeting, tackling day to day operations, as well as larger initiatives. Special thanks to the Divers Alert Network (DAN) and its staff for hosting the meeting at their headquarters.

Meeting Highlights

Standards: The Standards Committee is actively moving forward with a manual rewrite under the direction of Liz Kintzing.  Additionally, this committee will be working with membership to help remediate any OMs with standards violations. 

Finance: Vin Malkoski, Finance Chair, is continuing to investigate additional funding sources for the AAUS to support infrastructure, scholarships and upcoming programs.

Scholarships: Dr. Jennifer Smith, Scholarship Committee Chair, announced the AAUS scholarships will now be called the Masters and Doctoral Scholarships.

Statistics: Dr. Tim White, Statistics Chair, reported 53 OMs have submitted statistics. Please submit those stats ASAP.

AAUS IT: Mike Anghera is spearheading the effort to upgrade the AAUS web logging site and is currently distributing an RFP. Given some difficulties and challenges with the current platform for the main AAUS website, Mike is now investigating expanding that RFP to include a redesign of that site as well.  More to come on this as it becomes available.

DSO Certification: A draft curriculum outline, developed by Rick Gomez and Sean Harrison (ITI), was presented for the board to review. This outline was created utilizing the DSO certification program AAUS developed in 2008 along with ITI’s knowledge base for developing this type of training/qualification program that will help validate the final program. The BOD discussed and revised the document at the meeting and continues to provide follow up feedback as we work to fill in the curriculum.  The goal is to release this curriculum and the path for implementation for membership review in late summer. 

Program Development Conceptual Model: A new big picture conceptual model that ties all AAUS services and programs together was presented. Chris Rigaud submitted a summary that is included in this edition of the E-Slate. Please see Small Pieces, Big Picture below for more information.   

AAUS Site Visits (previously referred to as Accreditation):The site visit committee, chaired by Jim Hayward, is continuing to address some of the concerns voiced at the 2016 symposium, reviewing and revising the guideline document for how AAUS will conduct site visits. There will be much more to come regarding the site visit program in upcoming E-Slates.

As you can see we had a very busy and productive BOD meeting. My thanks go out to all the BOD members for their hard work and dedication to AAUS. And, a special thanks to Heather. Without her help, organization, and attention to detail the BOD would struggle to accomplish anything.

Please feel free to contact individual committee chairs or me directly if you have any questions, comments or concerns about these on-going projects.


Rick Gomez (rgomez@rsmas.miami.edu)

Small Pieces, Big Picture- Programmatic Conceptual Model - 03/31/17

Small Pieces - Big Picture

For many years, the AAUS community has struggled with two emerging programs, Accreditation and DSO Certification.  These initiatives have been debated and discussed over the course of multiple administrations, featured prominently in recent strategic plans (2008, 2015), and each have seen various beta-tests.  Yet, as of 2017, neither program has been fully implemented. 

In 2016, the AAUS Accreditation Committee attempted to revitalize the emerging accreditation program by planning a series of accreditation site visits.  This initiative was halted for multiple reasons, not the least of which were alarms raised by members of the AAUS community regarding a lack of information sharing and transparency.  In response to these concerns the Accreditation Committee and Board of Directors decided to reevaluate the development and implementation of the program. 

In the months following the 2016 AAUS Symposium, a conceptual model was created to connect existing and proposed AAUS programs.  The rationale behind the model was to describe and visualize how various small pieces might fit together to create a big picture for the Academy.  A draft form of the concept was approved by the Board of Directors at the spring 2017 Board meeting.

The AAUS Board of Directors is now presenting this idea to the AAUS community (full description).  We are requesting feedback and input on the concept as a whole.  The specific details of each piece/program will be presented for review as they become available from the AAUS committees charged with their development.

We anticipate and encourage open community discussion on this topic via the DSO google-group/list, however, to allow access to all members of our community and provide a centralized and cohesive mechanism for tracking commentary, a discussion forum has been created on the AAUS website.  Please utilize this web-forum as the primary venue for communication with the Board of Directors.  

2017 AAUS Diving For Science Symposium - Call for Abstracts - 03/31/17

2017 AAUS Diving for Science Symposium

The 2017 AAUS Scientific Diving Symposium will be hosted by Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, MI from September 12-16, 2017. We welcome diving scientists, students, diving safety officers and anyone with an interest in diving science to participate in this event.

The week will be filled with technical workshops ranging from Guardian FFM, PSI and DAN courses to diving workshops covering the geology of the great lakes, task loading and much more. Following opportunities for diving as well as social and networking events, we will wrap up the week with the national DSO meeting, a two-day science symposium, poster session, and annual awards banquet.  Registration will be open by mid-April.

Call for Abstracts

AAUS is now accepting abstract submissions for the 2017 AAUS Diving for Science Symposium. This year AAUS will accept short abstracts (less than 800 words), extended abstracts (800-1200 words) or full manuscripts. Abstracts should be submitted electronically to aaus@disl.orgby June 16, 2017. Please put "2017 AAUS symposium abstract" followed by your name in the message line to facilitate tracking. Notification on the disposition of submitted abstracts will be returned to the first author electronically by July 15. The deadline for final abstract/manuscript submission is August 04 to allow the published proceedings to be available at the fall meeting. No presentation will be allowed unless the final abstract or manuscript has been cleared for publication in the proceedings.

All submissions MUST use the template, which includes formatting instructions. Templates can be found at www.aaus.org/annual_symposium

2016 Presidential Addresses - 01/12/16


Rick Riera-Gomez

University of Miami

It is an honor and a privilege to move into the President position of the AAUS Board of Directors (BoD) and I look forward to the next two years with great excitement. But first I have some thank yous to mention. I would like to say thank you to outgoing AAUS President Amy Moran for her steady leadership. Her calm demeanor and thoughtfulness was great to have on the BoD as we worked through some very difficult situations.  I would also like to thank outgoing BoD members Elliott Jessup and Lora Pride for their service to the Academy.  I wish you both a great 2016 in your “real” jobs.

Special thanks must go to longstanding outgoing BoD member Michael Dardeau who has served on the AAUS BoD for the past 12 years. Michael, thank you for your friendship, service and ability to bring an invaluable perspective to the BoD.

With the turnover on AAUS BoD I would like to welcome the following people for stepping onto the 2016 BoD – Marc Slattery, Mike Anghera, Chris Ledford and Vin Malkowski.  I look forward to working with you all.

As you may recall, in 2015 the AAUS BoD developed a strategic plan (SP). This SP started in 2014 with a large fact finding period that gathered information from many different groups including the organizational membership, individual membership and past AAUS Presidents. The BoD then worked through this information and identified the strengths and weaknesses of the Academy.  The SP puts forth a clear and ambitious path for 2016. During the next 12 months, the AAUS will move forward with initiatives in the SP that membership has identified as priorities.

Some Strategic Plan Highlights for 2016

One of the major initiatives that received overwhelming support from the membership is development and implementation of an accreditation program. We have been working on this program for a while and will be starting with a full accreditation process this spring. This will be a voluntary program and will have some associated costs. We will be sending out details over the next couple of months so please watch for announcements.

Another major initiative that received much support is the development of an AAUS DSO qualification program. We have also been working on this for a few years and it’s time to move it forward. This will also be a voluntary program with associated costs. More details about this will also be forthcoming in the next couple of months.

Some of the other actions identified in the strategic plan that we will be working on in 2016 are increasing communication links, improving collaborations between AAUS and its membership and other community stakeholders, and exploring alternative revenue streams for AAUS, just to name a few.

As you can see we have an ambitious 2016 ahead but I, and the 2016 Board of Directors, welcome the challenge.




Amy Moran

University of Hawaii 

December marks my final month as President of the AAUS, and it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to serve as president for the past two years and on the AAUS Board of Directors for five.  We’ve accomplished a great deal in the last five years, none of which would have been possible without the efforts and dedication of too many people to name. 

Donors:  thank you to for your financial support and donations, large and small, which allow the AAUS Foundation to continue providing support to promising young scientists, and thank you to the organizations, individuals, and institutions that have donated funding, space and resources that allow our meetings and Symposia to be so productive;

AAUS volunteers:  thank you to all the AAUS members who’ve contributed their time and expertise to planning, committee work, strategic planning, meeting support, etc. etc.!

I do need to mention a couple of people by name.  Mike Dardeau, who’s been on the Board longer than anyone I know of, is stepping down as of January 1.  Mike has served on the Board since 2004 and has been Treasurer since 2006, and for most of that time he’s been the main person keeping the AAUS solvent and functional.  We all owe Mike a huge debt of gratitude. 

Heather Fletcher, who started working with the Board right around the same time that I did, is the heart of the AAUS and I can’t thank her enough for everything she’s done. She’s wonderful to work with and I hope she’ll be with the organization for many years to come.

Finally, to all the Board members I’ve served with: Tim, Rick, Pema, Neal, Narineh, Mike, Michael, Marc, Lora, Liz, Kevin, Jim, Jenn, Jen, George, Elliott, Diana, Christian, Chris, Cheryl, Bill; thank you for making my time as president tremendously productive, and also a lot of fun.

The Academy is in great hands with incoming President Rick Gomez and President-Elect Marc Slattery, and I have full confidence in both of to move the goals of the AAUS forward in the next four years. 

 Best wishes to everyone for a great 2016!

AAUS 2016 Board of Directors - 01/12/16

The AAUS Board of Directors undergoes changes in 2016 as four long-standing members step down and a new President-Elect, Secretary and two new directors join.  We would like to extend our thanks, gratitude, and appreciation to Amy Moran, Mike Dardeau, Elliott Jessup and Lora Pride for their many years of service and hard work.  You've been a great pleasure to work with and you will be missed!

We welcome Chris Ledford as our new Secretary and Marc Slattery as the President-Elect.  We also welcome two new Directors to the Board:  Mike Anghera and Vin Malkowski. Chris Rigaud will transfer from a director’s position to that of the Treasurer. We look forward to working with all of you in 2016 and beyond.

2nd European Conference on Scientific Diving, 9-11 May 2016 -Call for abstracts - 11/05/15

This year the conference will be held in Sweden at The Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences-Kristineberg. This meeting highlights scientific outputs achieved principally through the use of scientific diving as a research tool.

Deadline for abstract submission 4th December 2015

Deadline for registration 31st January 2016

For more information please visit our home page: www.loven.gu.se/english/research/ecsd2016

2015 AAUS Scholars - 10/22/15

2015 Kathy English Scholars

Amalia Harrington
The Unviersity of Maine

I am a first year PhD student in the Marine Biology Program of the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine. I was SCUBA certified as a high school student and did some recreational diving while attending the University of San Diego for my undergraduate degree. However, it wasn’t until I attended San Diego State University for my master’s degree that I became an AAUS certified Scientific Diver. I am broadly interested in understanding how organisms interact with and use their environment, particularly in the context of survival. In my master’s thesis work, I examined habitat use and sheltering behaviors of the California spiny lobster within and outside of a series of recently established marine protected areas (MPAs) through the use of diver-based transect surveys. I also conducted a series of field and laboratory experiments to assess antipredator behaviors and potential survival strategies in subadult lobsters. Together, these data provided a baseline for the lobster population to assist in future assessments of reserve efficacy.

At the University of Maine, I hope to continue exploring the relationship between marine organisms and their surrounding environment using the American lobster as a model organism. Specifically, my dissertation will focus on the response of lobster populations to a changing ecosystem as a consequence of global climate change. I will examine both the direct and indirect effects of climate change on the American lobster through a combination of laboratory and field based experiments. Funding received from the Kathy Johnston English Scholarship from the AAUS Foundation will assist me in completing the research diving component of my PhD research project during the 2016 field season.

Chelsie Counsell
University of Hawai’i at Manoa

I am a third year Marine Biology Ph.D. student at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and I am lucky enough to be conducting most of my dissertation research on SCUBA. Broadly my research interests are the biotic and abiotic drivers of marine communities. While I was pursuing my Bachelors of Science degree at Elon University, I completed an honors research thesis focused on the distribution of various grouper species including an assessment of adult and juvenile habitat use. I was also able to spend a summer at the University of California at Davis’s marine lab in Bodega Bay researching the impacts of climate change on an intertidal snail. Before I began my graduate studies, I worked as a Science Instructor at the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute in the Florida Keys and as a Waterfront Research Intern in the Turks and Caicos Islands with the School for Field Studies. I was able to participate in a large variety of research projects ranging from lionfish diet composition, to shark mark-and-recapture, to an assessment of reef communities on artificial reef habitat. For my Master’s thesis, I worked with Felicia Coleman and Kevin Craig at Florida State University to investigate how the distribution of sharks and dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico is impacted by seasonal low oxygen events. As an AAUS diver, I assisted with research on goliath grouper spawning aggregations near Jupiter, Florida, tropical reef surveys in Panama, and benthic surveys along the gulf coast of Florida.

My dissertation work is focused on community dynamics within a model coral reef community. With the support of my advisor, Megan Donahue, and NOAA, I have already been able to conduct surveys around O’ahu and within the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. With the AAUS Kathy English Scholarship award, I will be able to complete my surveys of this community throughout the Hawaiian archipelago by surveying at sites around Maui and the island of Hawai’i. This dataset will enable me to look at large scale biogeographic patterns in coral reef community composition and to determine how changes in the community are correlated with different anthropogenic effects, e.g. overfishing of top predators, deterioration of reef habitat.


2015 Kevin Gurr Scholars

Miranda Brett
San Diego State University

 I am a third year master’s student at San Diego State University in the Biology, emphasis in Ecology program. Since I began scuba diving at 15-years-old, I have been fascinated by marine life. When I started college I became AAUS and scuba instructor certified, which allowed me to work as a scuba and marine biology instructor in San Diego, Bahamas and Caribbean islands, as well as a scientific diver on a variety of research projects.  When I began my masters program I immediately began diving and observing the interactions in the rocky reef and kelp forest habitats off our coast. I found that Egregia, or feather boa kelp, has distinct grazing scars on its fronds formed by a host specific limpet, Lottia insessa. It appeared that these grazing scars led to breakage of the Egregia fronds, and I was compelled to find out whether a predator of the limpet could be playing a role in regulating the limpet’s abundance, and in turn benefit the kelp. Through lab experiments, I have found the abundant microcarnivorous fish, the senorita, Oxyjulis californica consumes the limpets, and the presence of senorita decreases limpet movement and grazing, which in turn increases Egregia’s breaking strength. I have tested the relative importance of these consumptive and non-consumptive effects and demonstrated the non-consumptive effects drive the majority of the interaction. A large gap in the scientific literature is whether these cascading non-consumptive effects found in the lab are in fact driving factors in nature. I am currently testing if these interactions found in the lab are occurring in the field through caging experiments. If we find an effect, this will be the first study to demonstrate a cascading non-consumptive effect in the subtidal marine environment.


Genoa Sullaway
San Diego State University

I am a graduate student in the Ecology program at San Diego State University studying kelp forest ecology. I aminterested in using primary production as a metric of ecosystem function, specifically in subtidal algae communities. For my thesis work I am studying how an invasive alga, Sargassum horneri, alters algal biodiversity, and how this in turn may affect ecosystem function in California Marine Protected Areas. S. horneri was first documented in southern California in 2003 and has since spread to the nearby Channel Islands, throughout the southern California bight and down to Baja California Sur. However, the ecological consequences of this invasion is largely unknown as this is the first time this alga has been found outside of its native range.

My experiences with the ocean started when I was young, sailing and surfing in San Diego, but my interest in science and the desire to combine science and the ocean did not become instilled in me until a Marine Biology class in high school. I completed my undergraduate degree at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo where I gained valuable research experience. Additionally, this is where I started SCUBA diving and became inspired to continue in marine subtidal research. 

My graduate research is conducted at three sites in Southern California that have been heavily invaded by S. horneri. The Kevin Gurr scholarship will ameliorate my travel costs and aid in my research efforts to assess the impact that S. horneri has on native algae biodiversity and how this may alter the intrinsic functioning of the kelp forest ecosystems it has invaded. 



2015 Scientific Diver Lifetime Achievement Award - 07/30/15

2015 Scientific Diver Lifetime Achievement Award

The 2015 American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) recipient of the Scientific Diver Lifetime Achievement Award is Charles Birkland.

Charles Birkeland earned his PhD at the University of Washington by determining how sea pen populations were able to persist despite the intense combined predation pressure from seven species of predators, some of which were specialists on sea pens. Also while a student, he dived from a Coast Guard buoy tender on Cobb Seamount 280 miles off Washington and found that the most common invertebrates on the top at 110 ft depth were ordinarily found in the intertidal and were brooding species that did not disperse larvae in the plankton.

In 1970, he spent a continuous three weeks on Tektite and in 1978 spent a week on Hydrolab and published the results from each. The science career of Charles Birkeland has always been underwater where he combined his ecological field experiments with natural history observations.

Birkeland was a post-doc at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute from 1970-1975 where he did the first experimental underwater field studies of coral recruitment and demonstrated the importance of nutrient input to the survival of coral recruits and that recruiting larvae often survive better in places they do not actually grow as rapidly. These studies on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Panama led to an understanding of how nutrient input affects ecological processes differently on a large scale on coral reefs among the geographic regions of the world.

Birkeland was a professor at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory from 1975 to 2000 and at the University of Hawaii from 2000-2010. He has done much of his field work in American Samoa since 1979. He established a research program to determine the capacity of corals to adapt (genetic changes in populations) or acclimatize (behavioral, physiological or morphological changes in individual colonies) to environmental change in pools on the small island of Ofu in American Samoa where the temperatures often fluctuate 6°C daily. He has guided and supported important field transplant experiments that have determined the changes in genes and proteins that come with stress from environmental change, indicating potential to successfully respond to climate change. He had also determined that nutrient input from terrestrial runoff into the coral-reef ecosystem leads to crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks through fertilization of phytoplankton blooms that feed the starfish larvae. This was controversial for a while because the loss of predation by over-collection of triton shells was the popular explanation, but recent laboratory and field studies on the Great Barrier Reef have proven Birkeland’s hypothesis correct.

Birkeland’s current interests are presented in his latest book “Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene” which is expected to be available from Springer Science this coming September. One of the messages of the book is that the trophic structure of the coral-reef ecosystem provides the greatest gross productivity and the least net productivity, perhaps of any natural system. To extract a substantial supply of food for humans, the net production is enhanced by reducing the upper trophic levels, and this had generally been happening widely before coral-reef science became active.  Some islanders harvest reef resources for subsistence and local market, yet maintain the integrity of the original coral-reef system, by harvesting the intermediate-sized individuals from fish populations. This maintains the stock because large fishes potentially produce exponentially more offspring and the juvenile fishes grow the fastest. The larger individual fishes of species such as parrotfishes fulfill their role in maintaining the ecosystem by clearing algae from the substrata and facilitating coral recruitment, while smaller parrotfishes have little effect even when common. Palauans have exemplified the favorable globalization of their economy while maintaining the integrity of their coral-reefs systems by keeping resource consumption local and having their international economy service-based (tourist) rather than export-based.


Birkeland has authored or edited four books, 70 papers in scientific journals, dozens of technical reports, and numerous other publications. He was the third President of the International Society for Reef Studies, organized the seventh International Coral Reef Symposium, was given the first Excellence in Research Award by the University of Guam, the award for "Outstanding Scientific Advancement of Knowledge" by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, and was elected Honorary Fellow of the Pacific Science Association. 

AAUS Standards Change 2013-Required Adoption - 07/29/15

In October of 2013, AAUS implemented a change to Sections 4.0 and 5.0 of the AAUS Standards.  These changes coincided with the launch of the AAUS Certification Program and adoption of the new format was initially required only for OMs who chose to participate in the program. However having 2 manual templates that are essentially the same, but written in different formats has caused some issues and confusion. So as of January 2016, all AAUS OMs will be required to adopt and incorporate these changes into their manuals.  This should not affect how AAUS OMs conduct their diver training programs, as the standards and procedures have not changed. This does not mean that all OM’s are required to offer the AAUS/ITI certification program. This is a first step in streamlining and un-complicating the AAUS manual. Questions regarding these changes should be directed to Liz Kintzing (ek@cisunix.unh.edu), AAUS Standards Chair; questions regarding the AAUS Certification Program should be directed to Christopher Rigaud (crigaud@maine.edu).

AAUS Standards Change 2013-Required Adoption - 06/30/15

In October of 2013, AAUS implemented a change to Sections 4.0 and 5.0 of the AAUS Standards.  These changes coincided with the launch of the AAUS Certification Program and adoption of the new format was initially required only for OMs who chose to participate in the program. However having 2 manual templates that are essentially the same, but written in different formats has caused some issues and confusion. So as of January 2016, all AAUS OMs will be required to adopt and incorporate these changes into their manuals.  This should not affect how AAUS OMs conduct their diver training programs, as the standards and procedures have not changed. This does not mean that all OM’s are required to offer the AAUS/ITI certification program. This is a first step in streamlining and un-complicating the AAUS manual. Questions regarding these changes should be directed to Liz Kintzing (ek@cisunix.unh.edu), AAUS Standards Chair; questions regarding the AAUS Certification Program should be directed to Christopher Rigaud (crigaud@maine.edu).

Spring 2015 New DSO Orientation - 05/14/15

Spring 2015 New DSO Orientation

The spring 2015 AAUS New DSO Orientation was held April 27, 2015 at Northeastern University Marine Science Center. This program is designed to provide an orientation for new Diving Safety Officers and for existing DSOs who would like more information and an update on particulars of running an AAUS Diving Safety Program at their respective institutions or organizations. Also open to non AAUS organizations who would like more information about AAUS.  The meeting was was well attended by a diverse group of participants from University of Rhode Island, University of Vermont, NOAA, University of Connecticut, University Systems of Georgia, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and others.  AAUS would like to thank our host, Liz Magee, and the presenters, Rick Riera-Gomez, Jim Hayward, Mike Dardeau, Chris Rigaud, Lora Pride and Narineh Nazarian for making this meeting a success.

2015 Awards - 05/14/15

2015 Conrad Limbaugh Memorial Award

The AAUS General Membership has nominated the following candidates for consideration as a recipient for the 2015 Conrad Limbaugh Memorial Award for Scientific Diving Leadership; Jeff Bozanic, Danny Gouge, John Reed, and Rob Robbins.   Nominee bios can be found at https://secure.aaus.org/2015_cl_award. Please cast your vote by logging to your individual member profile and selecting ‘voting and polling’ no later than 11:59 p.m. PST. on May 30, 2015.  You must be a full voting member to access the poll.


Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award

Nominations are now open for the 2015 Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented annually to an individual from the scientific diving community who has made a significant contribution to advancing underwater science and technology. Nominations are sought from the AAUS general membership, and selected candidates are voted for by the AAUS past presidents and previous award recipients. Nominations close May 31, 2015. Please submit the names and contact information for nominees, along with a one-paragraph justification at http://www.aaus.org/lifetime_achievement_award or to John Heine jheine@ucsd.edu


2014 Year End AAUS Foundation Update - 12/01/14

AAUS Foundation Update

The AAUS Foundation has had a productive 2014, disbursing nearly $13,000 in scholarship funds, including for first place and runner-up awards for both doctoral and master candidates, an Our World Underwater (OWU)/AAUS intern award, a Best Student paper award, and two Kevin Flanagan Student Travel awards. We have also had some fundraising success. Our donation drive at the Sitka symposium raised nearly $6000 for the Kevin Flanagan Student Travel award, bringing the fund to within

$17,000 of the $60,000 required to make this a permanently endowed award. Additional efforts during the Bubble Breaker resulted in more than $5000 raised for scholarships. As 2014 comes to an end, the opportunity to make a tax deductible donation in this year is closing fast. Since every dollar raised in 2014 will be matched by AAUS, the value to the Foundation for any donation will be doubled.  We ask for your support to make the most of this. To donate, go to http://www.aausfoundation.org and click on the 'Donate' button.  Be sure to include a comment if you would like to direct your donation to the Kevin Flanagan award. We are grateful to all our donors and wish you well in the upcoming year.

Aqua Lung to Expand the SureLock II Rubber Handle Recall - 11/06/14

Two years ago, Aqua Lung recalled SureLock II rubber weight pocket handles because the rubber handles could separate from the SureLock latching mechanism. At that time, we asked you to replace those rubber handles with a revised version that was identified by a raised crescent of thicker rubber material.

Aqua Lung has now seen failures of the revised rubber handles too. While the method of failure is different and much less frequent, we feel that the time has come to take all rubber handles out of service.

In parallel, over one year ago, Aqua Lung designed a new SureLock II weight pocket handle that moved away from rubber altogether. The new design uses webbing to attach the handle to the SureLock mechanism. This web-based handle was placed into BC production in November 2013.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using their BCs with Sure Lock II rubber weight pocket handles. Bring the pockets to your nearest authorized Aqua Lung Dive Retailer or Dive Center. They will be able to replace your handles for you while you wait, as changing handles is a quick process. The replacement is made under warranty and you will not incur any charges.

This recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Consumer Contact - for additional assistance please call (855) 355-7170 or visit www.aqualung.com and click on the Recall Notice.

2014 AAUS Foundation Scholarship Winners - 10/14/14


Kathy English Scholarship

First Place - Marissa McMahan (Northeastern University)

I am in the second year of a Ph.D. program in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at Northeastern University. My research interests focus on changes in predator-prey dynamics in the Gulf of Maine. Currently, I am working to better understanding the impacts of emergent species on local ecology, food web dynamics, and fisheries productivity. In light of recent and continuing climate change, emergent species are becoming more common in areas such as the Gulf of Maine. Specifically, I am interested in the recent range expansion of the black sea bass, Centropristis striata, into the Gulf of Maine. Large predators are rare in the nearshore waters of the northern Gulf of Maine. While pursuing a M.S. at the University of Maine, I studied the influence of Atlantic cod on the movement behavior of the 
American lobster, Homarus americanus. My research suggests that the drastic decline in cod stocks in the 1980s may have contributed to the exponential increase in lobster that followed in the 1990s. This research is particularly important to me because I have directly experienced the cascading effects of food web altercation while working as a commercial fisherman over the past decade. My background in both the fishing industry and marine ecology provides me with a unique perspective on the interaction between ecological changes and resulting impacts to fisheries.
The emergence of black sea bass as a potential new predator of lobsters and other native species in the northern Gulf of Maine is cause for concern. The increase of black sea bass in the southern Gulf of Maine, and the arrival of black sea bass in the northern Gulf of Maine, could have potential negative impacts on native species and subsequent fisheries. Through this research, I hope to understand how emergent species impact food web dynamics and ultimately influence both the ecological and economic resilience of the Gulf of Maine.
Second Place - Allison Tracy (Cornell University)
I am a coral disease biologist in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD program at Cornell University. Before moving into the field of coral ecology, I studied the effects of environmental stressors on disease and immunity in organisms as diverse as cattle and lobsters. Although pathogens are an important part of healthy ecosystems, environmental stress may exacerbate morbidity and mortality caused by disease. The relationship between the host, the pathogen, and the environment is the foundation of my doctoral research on the Caribbean sea fan, Gorgonia ventalina. This system is particularly tractable as G. ventalina is the subject of past research on coral disease, survives well in a laboratory setting, and has several known pathogens. Over the past two years, I have conducted a series of underwater surveys and a factorial laboratory experiment in La Parguera, Puerto Rico to explore the separate and combined effects of stressors, such as temperature and water pollution, on coral disease and immunity. I am especially interested in the immune response of corals in a changing environment. An enhanced understanding of the repertoire of coral immune defenses is critical for understanding disease resistance and has the potential to shed light on the evolution of immune systems. 
Kevin Gurr Scholarship
First Place - Caitlin Hanley (Florida Atlantic University)
I am pursuing my M.S. degree at the Department of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University. I became a certified SCUBA diver two years ago and completed my AAUS scientific dive training shortly after. I received my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Geology from FAU where as an undergraduate I examined deep sea sediments from the Northwestern slope of the Great Bahama Bank. This project revealed the existence of an unusual micro benthic assemblage residing on a steep underwater talus slope that did not exist within similar depth ranges south of Victory Cay and north of South Bimini. This project heightened my interests in marine microorganisms and their functionality in an underwater ecosystem.  My current research focuses on foraminiferal assemblages on natural and artificial reefs off the coast of southeastern Florida. Foraminifera have long been used as environmental indicators due to their relatively small size, abundance, and similar water quality requirements they share with zooxanthellate corals. The goal of my AAUS funded research is to provide baseline data for micro benthos biodiversity on natural and artificial reefs and to improve the understanding of artificial reef development.
Second Place - Katie Davis (University of California, Santa Barbara)
I am a graduate student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California Santa Barbara. My graduate research is focused on the spatial ecology of coral reef herbivores, specifically how community structure influences the movement and foraging ecology of parrotfishes. More broadly, I am interested in the ecology of kelp forest and coral reefs: how these habitats are structured by herbivory and how direct and indirect interactions with humans modify the processes of herbivory in these systems. Before starting graduate school, I spent several years working in the Santa Barbara Channel conducting dive surveys as part of a long-term large-scale kelp forest monitoring program with the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO). Monitoring the Marine Protected Areas in the Channel Islands (established in 2003) over the course of the last seven years I have been a witness to some significant community shifts as anthropogenic impacts have been restricted in these areas. This has piqued my interest in further understanding the roll of fishing (and its effects on herbivory) in these coastal communities. 
My graduate research is mainly conducted at Palmyra Atoll which has an unfished reef system managed by US Fish and Wildlife. Because the reef communities are unaltered by human extraction, we are able to establish baseline patterns of fish movement in this system. With the AAUS Kevin Gurr scholarship award, I will be able to conduct a comparative movement study, in a fished location, to determine how community alteration affects individual movement in these ecologically important species.
Hollis Gear Award
Victoria Sindorf (University of Hawaii, Manoa)

My name is Victoria (Tori) Sindorf; I’m a second year PhD student in the Marine Biology Graduate Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where I work at the Kewalo Marine Lab under my advisor, Dr. Robert Richmond. My love of the ocean started at a young age, even before I first donned a mask and snorkel and stared transfixed at my first glimpse of a coral reef. It wasn’t long before I started begging my parents to let me learn how to scuba dive. Since then I have had the pleasure and privilege of diving in many different environments in diverse regions of the world. Working as a research diver in Mexico and Kenya exposed me to the intricate ways in which human well-being and culture are dependent on the health of ocean ecosystems – a truth we have lost sight of in much of America. These experiences only solidified my desire to do research not just for the sake of knowledge, but with the intent of developing effective conservation strategies to help ensure that coral reefs can continue to provide resources and enjoyment for future generations. 

My dissertation research is focused on investigating the chemically mediated interactions between coral and algae on the reef. Since many coral reefs are being overfished and polluted with excess nutrients from shore, phase shifts from rich, diverse coral-dominated ecosystems to relatively lifeless algae-­dominated ecosystems are a very prevalent concern. These ecologically devastating events reduce fish abundance and size, increase shoreline erosion, and destroy the aesthetic appeal of both reefs and beaches – causing huge economic losses for the tourism industry. It is my hope that my work will help establish more effective means of monitoring and managing phase shifts to reduce these events and preserve ecosystem function. 

Scuba diving is a vital component of my ongoing research, and it is with great excitement and overwhelming gratitude that I gladly accept the 2014 AAUS Hollis Equipment Award.  The diving gear produced by Hollis is among the best in the world, designed to endure extreme use in demanding environments. I am thankful to the AAUS and to Hollis for their vote of confidence in me and my research, and for providing this grant to upgrade and expand the tools of my trade- my scuba kit.

Photo Credit: David Slater

New AAUS Foundation Website - 08/28/14

AAUS Foundation Website

The AAUS Foundation website, www.aausfoundation.org, has gotten an upgrade!  It can now be viewed on your mobile devices.  Visit the site and check out our new design.

Veron receives 2014 AAUS SDLA Award - 08/01/14

2013 AAUS Foundation Scholarship Recipients - 09/30/13


Lillian Tuttle
2013 Kathy Johnston English Scholar

I am a PhD. student starting my fourth year in the Department of Zoology at Oregon State University, under the direction of Dr. Mark Hixon.  I was born and raised along the Kentucky River, where I first learned to appreciate living things both above and below the water.  At sixteen I became scuba-certified in a filled rock quarry, and got hooked on diving.  I stayed close to home for college by attending Centre College, a small (but mighty!) liberal arts school in Kentucky.  As an undergraduate I made my way to the ocean with internships in coastal Oregon and the Virgin Islands, during which I studied the fascinating world of fish-parasite ecology.  After college, I spent a year as a Fulbright Advanced Student in southern France at the Université Montpellier 2, where I studied fish “eco-immunology,” and I volunteered as a tutor for three months at an elementary school for orphans in rural Kenya.  I was honored to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2010, when I began my career as a graduate student at OSU.

            My ecological love affair is with species interactions, and how these interactions both affect and are affected by invasive species.  My dissertation has focused on lionfish, an invasive species on Atlantic coral reefs that pose a major threat to native fish communities.  My research has discovered that lionfish have extremely few parasites infecting them compared to other fish in the Caribbean, perhaps allowing lionfish to divert more energy toward feeding and reproduction.  I’m also investigating whether or not lionfish eat or alter the behavior of cleaning gobies, little fish that pick parasites off the skin of larger fishes.  Ultimately, if lionfish change cleaning behavior they could indirectly alter parasite transmission, and native fish health and diversity on coral reefs.  I’ve conducted my research at three locations: the Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman, the Perry Institute for Marine Science in the Bahamas, and the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) in the Bahamas.  I’m looking forward to another summer of intensive fieldwork at CEI, thanks to the Kathy Johnston English Scholarship!

Darcy Bradley
2013 Kathy Johnston English Scholar

Darcy Bradley is a PhD student at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she studies interactions between humans and large marine predators in structuring coral reef ecosystems.  Darcy is particularly concerned with the precipitous decline in shark populations that has accelerated in recent decades; while declines in pelagic shark species are well documented, similar population depletions are thought to exist for previously untargeted coral reef associated sharks. Yet, to date the majority of reef shark abundance estimates are derived from visual survey data that are plagued by a lack of comparability and reproducibility.Crucially, these estimates also fail to account for shark behavior, which may significantly bias results.

In the spring of 2013, Darcy was invited to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy and the Palmyra Atoll Research Consortium in mark-recapture reef shark population study at Palmyra, a remote U.S. National Wildlife Refuge in the central Pacific Ocean. Over the next year, Darcy will make several site visits to Palmyra with the goal of establishing a baseline measure of grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus)population size without the biases inherent in visual survey estimates. However, as much of the world’s reef shark abundance assessments rely on data collected in underwater diver surveys, Darcy is further working to quantify a behavioral response by reef sharks to human SCUBA diver presence. Reef shark behavior will then be incorporated into a bias correction factor that will be used to update and reevaluate abundance estimates throughout the central Pacific.


Scott Gabara
2013 Kevin Gurr Scholar

Scott Gabara is pursuing his M.S. degree at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) and is conducting research on the ecology of rhodolith beds around Santa Catalina Island.   Scott received his B.S. from University of California Santa Cruz in 2007 while volunteering for the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO).  He completed his AAUS scientific diving training at UCSC.  Scott was employed by PISCO for three years and developed his diving skills through subtidal surveys and oceanographic instrument maintenance and boating skills by operating inflatables and small boats.  Scott became a NAUI Instructor which led to employment at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories where he currently helps teach marine science diving during the summer and fall, and helps run the MLML diving program.  At almost 900 dives and 24 hours underwater, Scott believes his strong foundation in diving has lead to a lifelong pursuit of conducting his own marine research and teaching science diving.  His research on understanding energy flow through rhodolith beds, an understudied habitat, has suggested that rhodolith beds around Santa Catalina Island benefit from giant kelp drift, which subsidizes the base of the rhodolith bed food web.

Danielle Claar
2013 Kevin Gurr Scholar
I am a first year graduate student at the University of Victoria under the direction of Dr. Julia Baum. Our lab seeks to understand how human activities are altering marine ecosystems, and my dissertation focuses on how human impact can affect interactions between corals and their algal symbionts (Symbiodinium). The goal of my AAUS funded research is to evaluate the dynamics of Symbiodinium diversity on Kiritimati atoll (Christmas Island). Symbiodinium diversity is important because it can indicate the overall health of a coral, and provide insight into the history of coral bleaching. This past summer, I traveled to Kiritimati for a month to collect baseline ecological research and coral-Symbiodinium samples. My research is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Ruth Gates at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, where I will travel to conduct training and genetic analyses of coral-Symbiodinium samples from Kiritimati. Ultimately, my goal is to further our knowledge of coral-Symbiodinium interactions in order to better understand the fate of coral reefs in a changing environment. 
Melanie Garate
2013 Hollis Gear Award Recipient

I received my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental, Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Boston in August of 2012 where as an undergraduate I examined the land use effects of the Neponset River watershed and the microbial composition of the Dorchester Bay to determine the water quality at these two sites. For two and a half years, throughout undergraduate and conducting research, I volunteered over one-thousand hours in several departments of the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA, which mainly focused on educating the public about the marine environment as well as ensuring all exhibit animals were getting the best care. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. at the University of Rhode Island under Dr. Serena Moseman-Valtierra examining how anthropogenic nutrient pollution and benthic invertebrates are affecting the biogeochemistry of intertidal and subtidal coastal zones. 

Emily Aiken
2013 Hollis Gear Award Recipient

Emily Aiken grew up in the desert in southern California, where she obtained her AA in Liberal Arts at a local community college.  At this point in her life, SCUBA diving was foreign and intangible to her because she was land-locked and did not personally know a single diver. Three years ago, she transferred to CSU Monterey Bay as a first generation college student and switched her major to Marine Science. The handful of times she did visit the beach, filtering the sand for sand crabs and exploring the abundant life in tidepools, is what kindled her passion to pursue her adventures in the many unique outlets ocean science has to offer.

During her college career, Emily enrolled in the SCUBA open water course taught by Frank Degnan and shortly after, she completed her advanced, rescue, master, drysuit, and AAUS scientific diving certifications. In the meantime, she volunteered as a cleanup diver for Monterey Harbor, a maintenance diver for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Animal Research and Care Center, a TA for CSUMB’s SCUBA program, and was elected as the undergraduate representative on the Dive Control Board. She was one of the two students at CSUMB to conduct an underwater research project as her Honors Thesis, studying the interaction between invasive and native organisms in Monterey Harbor in collaboration with NOAA. Apart from her Honors Thesis, she works with Marine Protected Areas as a research assistant at the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology. She broadened her role in the marine science community by establishing CSUMB’s first Marine Science Club as the club president. This past summer, she brokered a research diving experience through Florida International University, where she studied how the grazing rates of different-sized herbivorous fishes impacted coral reefs off the Florida Keys. Through all of these experiences, Emily has defined her passion for marine science and underwater research. She plans to pursue her research through getting a Ph.D. to contribute knowledge about marine ecology so that decision makers, managers, and the public have a better understanding about how to conserve our ocean. 


2012 AAUS Scholarship Recipients Updates - 05/15/13

Julia Stevens
2012 Kathy Johnston Scholar

I am a doctoral candidate finishing my fourth year of Ph.D. work at the University of Alabama under the direction of Julie B. Olson, Ph.D. The graduate program here has a broad focus in biological sciences reaching from molecular and cell biology to ecology and evolution. Our lab is a marine microbial ecology lab, and my dissertation focuses on the bacterial communities associated with the invasive lionfish in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic and in their native Indo-Pacific region. The funds I received through the Kathy Johnston Scholarship Fund awarded by AAUS are allowing me to travel to the Smithsonian research island of Carrie Bow Cay, Belize in June. The work I will complete while there, will allow me to analyze the chemical composition of lionfish mucus for antimicrobial activity as a potential chemical defense mechanism against disease. I am also testing the lionfish-associated bacteria for antimicrobial activity against known fish pathogens. Results could have implications for explaining the success of lionfish in the invaded range as well as potential host-microbe interactions. This project stemmed from previous work of ours, which showed that lionfish harbor a significantly different bacterial community than native Caribbean fishes.

 Photo of Julia Stevens and a lion fish by Cheih-wen Wang


Alexander Modys
2012 Kevin Gurr Scholar

My name is Alexander Modys, and I'm from Fort Myers, Florida. My interests are freediving, SCUBA diving, spearfishing, and surfing. I am currently a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, where I am working on an MS degree in Geology in the Department of Geosciences. My degree focuses on Marine Geology and Paleoceanography. I became interested in marine science at a very early age, exploring the estuary and Gulf of Mexico waters where I grew up and snorkeling the reefs of the Florida Keys. 

My AAUS funded research focuses on a relict Holocene reef system off the coast of Boynton Beach, Florida, constructed from Acropora palmataand Acropora cervicorniscorals. Using a combination of reef coring, stable isotope analysis, and remote sensing, I am working to reconstruct the Holocene reef environment at its northermost termination during the Holocene. Specifically, I am working on determining Holocene reef zonation patterns, paleo-temperatures, and exact age of the reef termination. Using this crucial new data, I will compare Holocene shelf-edge acroporid reef growth at this site to modern shelf-edge acroporid reef growth throughout the Florida Keys. Ultimately, our findings will reveal information on the long-term ecological stability of shelf-edge acroporid reefs in the southeastern Florida.


Jennifer Hellmann
2012 Kathy Johnston Scholar

I am a second year PhD student in the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology department at The Ohio State University. My laboratory studies the evolution of sociality and my research focuseson the formation, structure, and fitness benefits of social networks. Being well connected within a social network provides several advantages, including increased offspring survival, greater mating opportunities, and higher social rank. However, social networking has not been widely explored outside of primates, and we do not know to what extent individuals in other taxa make decisions on the basis of networking opportunities. My research uses Neolamprologus pulcher, a species of African cichlid with a highly complex social system, to better understand how social networks function in fish. This past spring, I traveled to Lake Tanganyika to examine how colony density affects the ability of individuals to interact with their neighbors. Specifically, I explored how density affects how often males are able to mate with females on other territories and how easily subordinates are able to move between groups in the colony. Social network structure has important implications for information flow, disease spread, mate choice, and social stability, and this project will help elucidate the extent to which spatial patterns and social interactions align, which will provide valuable insight into the evolution of social structures and group organization.

 Photos by Susan Marsh-Rollo


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