Mission & Goals

The mission of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) is to advance and facilitate safe and productive scientific diving. The AAUS was officially chartered in California in 1983 by individuals and organizations involved in the effort to obtain the scientific diving exemption from OSHA commercial diving standards. In the years since, the AAUS has expanded from the original six organizational members to more than 130 organizational members and over 1100 individual members. Organizational membership includes colleges and universities, government agencies, museums and aquaria, environmental and archaeological consulting firms, and community science groups sharing a common thread of the use of diving as a research tool and a commitment to the health and safety of scientific divers. AAUS produces consensual standards for the training and certification of scientific divers and the operation of scientific diving programs, maintains statistics detailing scientific diving activities and incident rates, conducts annual symposia and topical workshops, and directly supports student research.

In the Spotlight

The environmental DNA (eDNA) era for reef fish surveys?

Every time I get to SCUBA dive in Vava’u for my PhD fieldwork, I have to pinch myself to make sure it is for real. Vava’u is the most northern island group in the beautiful Kingdom of the Tonga (Image 1). This archipelago sets halfway between the hotspot for fish diversity called the Coral Triangle, and the south Pacific islands of French Polynesia. I chose this location as the focal point for my research because of the gap in knowledge about their reef fish fauna, and more specifically about cryptobenthic reef fishes (CRFs). Cryptic, because they are good at hiding (Image 2), and benthic because they live on or near a substrate. But the most striking characteristic of these fishes is their very small size. Adults are 1-2 cm long, which is a great adaptation if you want to make use of all the crevices that a coral reef ecosystem provides. . 

Current Organizational Members

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Organizational members comprised of both US and International members in Academia, Aquariums, Government and Consulting firms.


Scientific dives logged by members since 1998

0.324 per 10,000 dives

DCI rate for AAUS divers, 1/10 that of recreational divers


Scholarship money given out since 1996


Amount of science dollars supported by AAUS diving in the last 5 years

Contact Us

American Academy of Underwater Sciences
Heather Albright – Operations Manager
PO Box 9067
Mobile, AL 36691-9067



Support the Foundation

The AAUS Foundation is a 501c3 charity that provides internships and scholarships to students who utilize scientific diving as a research tool or study scientific diving. Partner with us as we help fund up and coming diving scientist!
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