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A Brief History of AAUS

The mission of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences [AAUS] is to advance and facilitate safe and productive scientific diving.

The American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) is a non-profit, self-regulating body dedicated to the establishment and maintenance of standards of practice for scientific diving.
The AAUS is concerned with diving safety, state-of-the-art diving techniques, methodologies, and research diving expeditions.

The Academy's goals are to promote the safety and welfare of its members who engage in underwater sciences. These goals include:

  • providing a national forum for the exchange of information on scientific diving
  • advancing the science and practice of scientific diving;
  • collecting, assessing, and distributing exposure, incident and accident statistics related to scientific diving;
  • promoting just and uniform legislation relating to scientific diving;
  • facilitating the exchange of information on scientific diving practices among members; and,
  • engaging in any or all activities which are in the general interest of the scientific diving community.


Organized in 1977 and incorporated in 1983, the AAUS is governed by a Board of Directors. An Advisory Committee of Past AAUS Presidents members provides continuity and a core of expertise to the Academy. Individual membership in AAUS is granted at the Member, Associate Member, and Student Member categories. Organizational membership is open to organizations currently engaged in scientific diving activities.





  • For the diving scientist, AAUS provides a forum to share information on diving research, methodologies and funding;
  • For the diving officer, AAUS provides an information base of the latest standards of practice for training, equipment, diving procedures and managerial and regulatory experience, and;
  • For the student, AAUS provides exposure to individuals, agencies and organizations with ongoing programs in undersea research.

Scientific diving means diving performed solely as a necessary part of a scientific activity by employees whose sole purpose for diving is to perform scientific research tasks. Scientific diving does not include tasks generally associated with commercial diving such as: rigging heavy objects underwater, inspection of pipelines, construction, demolition, cutting or welding, or the use of explosives. Scientific diving programs allow research diving teams to operate under the exemption from OSHA commercial diving regulations. This reduces the possibility of an OSHA fine and some concern regarding civil liability. Civil suits examine whether the "standards of practice of the community" have been met. Diving programs which conform to AAUS standards reflect the standard of practice of the U.S. scientific diving community and allow divers from different institutions to perform underwater research together. This reciprocity between programs is the product of years of experience, trust and cooperation between underwater scientists.

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