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Everyone who dives at STRI facilities must be certified by the diving officer, or have a letter of reciprocity from their home research institution. Please contact Raul De Leon, STRI’s diving officer, at least three months ahead of your visit to make arrangements.

The Smithsonian Institution Scientific Diving Program is overseen by the Office of the Under Secretary for Science. The program promotes and supports the underwater research activities and diving safety of Smithsonian scientific divers. Smithsonian policy regarding diving activities conducted under its auspices is published by the Scientific Diving Control Board and this information is updated on the dive program’s website.

There are three types of Smithsonian scientific diving authorizations: for Smithsonian employees, visiting scientists with diving reciprocity, and temporary diving authorization.

Please note:

Consult the Smithsonian Diving Safety Manual.

Smithsonian Employees

If you are staying at STRI for less than three months, you will access the Internet through STRI’s Visitor Zone/Guest network. If you will be staying at STRI for longer than three months, you will have the option to sign up for a STRI email and network account.

Please note:

Smithsonian Employees are required to receive authorization from the Scientific Diving Program (SDP) before diving. Scientific diving must be part of the employee's official duties and states as such on their performance plan. Smithsonian Employees fall under SI-SCIENTIFIC DIVER requirements.

Visiting scientist with diving reciprocity

The Smithsonian may, at its discretion, grant diving privileges to scientific staff from other research organizations. If the scientific diver is currently employed by an American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) organizational member institution, you can initiate the diving certification process by completing the online form at DECOSTOP. A full list of requisites can be found here.

If you were previously certified by an AAUS scientific diving program but are no longer employed at that organization, please refer to the temporary diving authorization instructions.

Contact the Scientific Diving Office well in advance regarding submission of information and completing the online form at DECOSTOP.

Please note:

  • You must complete the Smithsonian Scientific Diver Reciprocity form in order to dive with the Smithsonian.
  • Dive computers are to be used as the primary means of determining decompression status.
  • A prospective diver’s CPR and oxygen administration training must have been completed within 12 months.
  • Third party diving reciprocity (i.e., a diver authorized by your program who is not employed by your organization) requires special consideration by the Smithsonian Scientific Diving Officer.
  • University students: Some state statutes do not provide Workman's Compensation/Disability Benefits for students. It is the home institution diving officer's responsibility to ascertain whether or not these individuals are covered by these provisions.
  • Divers-in-training are not eligible for scientific diving reciprocity at the Smithsonian.
  • A copy of all dives logged at the Smithsonian must be submitted to the unit diving officer upon completion of diving activities.

Temporary diving authorization

The Smithsonian may authorize diving activities on a temporary basis for scientists visiting Smithsonian facilities or projects. Temporary diving authorization is the mechanism used to authorize scientists who are not employed by AAUS organizational member institutions. If you were previously certified by an AAUS organizational member program, please have that diving officer contact the Smithsonian. To initiate the diving authorization process, you must complete the online form at DECOSTOP. A full list of requisites is here.

Once the Scientific Diving Office has reviewed your dive training and experience, you will be requested to complete the items listed on the Temporary Diving Authorization.

Please contact the Scientific Diving Office well in advance regarding submission of a dive plan and allow at least four weeks to complete the requirements for the Smithsonian Scientific Diving Authorization. Temporary divers must meet the same standards as Smithsonian employees.

Please note:

  • The Smithsonian diver medical certification form must be submitted by your physician.
  • This temporary scientific diver authorization is only valid while diving under the direct control and supervision of the Smithsonian.
  • Coverage for workman's compensation/disability is not provided by the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Smithsonian dive logs must be submitted at DECOSTOP at the completion of diving activities.


STRI’s diving officer

Raul De Leon

Diving Safety Officer
+507 212.8726
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