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Diving Safety Program

The Diving Safety Program (DSP) provides oversight of compressed gas diving activities conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The DSP reviews CDFW diving activities, supports ongoing projects, and provides initial and recurrent training for CDFW divers. The DSP is administered by the Marine Region and is supported by staff from throughout CDFW. The DSP is an Organizational Member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS).

Program Divers

There are approximately 70 active divers in CDFW's diving program. These Scientific Aides, Environmental Scientists, Wildlife Officers, and Engineers log nearly 2000 dives annually for biological, ecological and hydrological research and monitoring; as well as for enforcement and public safety along the coast and in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs of California.

Standards and Policies

Only divers that meet CDFW criteria and have successfully completed CDFW training are eligible to dive using scuba in support of CDFW projects and programs. CDFW diving policies and procedures are based on the standards set forth by AAUS and are vetted by CDFW's Diving Safety Board. These policies and procedures may be found in CDFW's Diving Safety Manual (PDF) (File size 1.0 MB)


CDFW is an organizational member of AAUS. As a member in good standing, the CDFW diving program has reciprocal working relationships with university, government agency and other scientific diving programs. Researchers may dive on CDFW-hosted projects by first providing the DSO (at least 2 weeks in advance) with:

  • Letter of Reciprocity/Verification of Diver Training from your home institution
  • Evidence of Liability Coverage (CDFW form coming soon)

Please contact your sponsoring investigator or the DSO for further information.


2014 Schedule and Course Overview


The Diving Safety Program offers a Scientific Diver Certification Course, annual Recertification Workshops, and Specialty Courses for authorized CDFW divers. Training offered by the DSP is limited to CDFW employees and is not open to the public.

Diver Certification Course:You must be a CDFW employee to enroll in this course. Supervisor, Regional Manager, and DSO permission is required. Per the Diving Safety Manual, staff wishing to use scuba in support of Department projects and programs must first complete Department training and evaluation. Upon successful completion, divers are certified to the Scientific Diving Standards of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, and are authorized to dive under the auspices of CDFW. Topics include diving physics, physiology, decompression, night diving, dive planning, and research techniques, among others. The course is an intensive training that employs lectures, workshops, field work, and in-water evaluation of diving skills. It is not basic SCUBA training and candidates must meet course prerequisites, demonstrate in-water aptitude, and receive DSO approval prior to enrolling. Maximum class size is eight. Please contact the DSO for more information.

2014 Offering

  • Catalina, May 11-16. Current wait list.

Recertification Workshops: Active CDFW divers must re-qualify annually. Recertification Workshops cover swim testing, first responder training, diver rescue skills, proficiency and depth qualification diving, and workshops in specialty diving modes. Attendance at one meeting is mandatory to maintain CDFW diving authorization. RSVP required.

2014 Offerings

  • Ft. Bragg, August 19-21. Recertification and research field work
  • Catalina, September 9-11. Recertification and Skills Workshop
  • Monterey, October 21-23. Recertification and Skills Workshop

Specialized Diving Modes: Training for active CDFW divers is available by request for the following specialized diving modes.

  • Altitude
  • Black water / low visibility
  • Blue water
  • Depth greater than 130 fsw
  • Dry suit
  • Light maintenance
  • Nitrox
  • Rebreather
  • Staged decompression
  • Swift water
  • Tended or tethered

Diving Support Roles: Training is available to CDFW divers and non-divers performing diver support functions.

  • Cylinder Handler Safety
  • Fill Station Operator

The Diving Safety Board (DSB) provides consultation and guidance to the Diving Safety Officer to help ensure a safe and efficient diving operation. DSB members serve as CDFW's technical and policy advisors and assist the DSO when conducting diver training and safety programs.

  • Peter Haaker Scientific Program and Training Consultant
    Senior Biologist, Ret.
    Los Alamitos
  • Sonke Mastrup Diving Safety Manager
    Program Manager
    California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Marine Region
  • Jonathan Nelson Scientific Program Representative, Trainer
    Senior Environmental Scientist
    California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Fisheries Branch
  • David Osorio Diving Safety Officer
    Environmental Scientist
    California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Marine Region
  • Ian Taniguchi Board Chairperson, Scientific Program Representative, Trainer
    Senior Environmental Scientist
    California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Marine Region
    Los Alamitos
  • John Ugoretz Agency Representative
    Ecologist, U.S. Navy
    Santa Barbara
  • Mark Windham  Training Officer 
    California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Marine Region
  • Vacant Medical Advisor
  • Vacant Law Enforcement Representative
    California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Law Enforcement Division

Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
Main Office: 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey, CA  93940  |  (831) 649-2870
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Program Administration

Diving Safety Program operations are overseen by the Diving Safety Officer (DSO). The DSO is responsible for training divers and diver candidates, and for overseeing diving operations to ensure compliance with CDFW, AAUS, and OSHA standards for scientific and workplace diving. For more information, please contact:

David Osorio
Environmental Scientist, Diving Safety Officer
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: (831) 649-7195
Fax: (831) 649-2917