American Academy of Underwater Science
The American Academy of Underwater Science (AAUS) is an organization formed in 1977 in California to oversee scientific diving. They are the leading organization that sets the guidelines and standards for all scientific diving programs. Their mission is “to facilitate the development of safe and productive scientific divers through education, research, advocacy, and the advancement of standards for scientific diving practices, certifications, and operations.”
Institutes, individuals, organizations, and universities that do any from of scientific diving become members of AAUS. The AAUS works with Organizational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as the governing official of scientific diving. They set all the guidelines and standards that are necessary to ensure that scientific diving is safe and healthy.
When groups like NOAA or Stanford University want to send a group of scientists or scientists-in-training underwater for research purposes, they must meet the AAUS rules to be exempt from OSHA regulations. This means that the diving control board is the absolute authority over their operation, that the project is used only for the advancement of science and is nonproprietary, that the scientists can only be observers and data gathers, and that the only people allowed to work on the operation are scientists and scientists in training.
The AAUS ensures that all member groups meet these exemption regulations. In return the AAUS helps protect the groups from fines and civil suits. The scientific diving community also relies on the AAUS’s publications that come out monthly and on a yearly symposium to spread the word about scientific diving. The AAUS publishes scientific papers about the research being done by different scientific diving teams around the world. They also alert scientific divers about equipment recalls, funding and scholarships, calls for proposals, upcoming scientific diving events, job opportunities, and new publications.
Possibly the most important aspect of the AAUS is that of reciprocity between organization members. This allows research groups to share information about their projects. This collaboration allows science to take greater steps forward more quickly.
The AAUS is the organization for scientific diving. It is the group that brings all scientists and scientific diving teams together to promote the knowledge of the underwater world.