Scientific Diving, Subtidal Research and Underwater Research

The Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island is an ideal location for underwater research and offers convenient access to nearshore and open water environments. The island labs are situated on Big Fisherman's Cove where a marine life refuge, established in 1988, offers soft clean sediment, kelp forests and a wide diversity of marine life. The waters just a short distance offshore are deep enough for blue-water diving.

Waterfront facilities at the lab are equipped to support scientists who need to use scuba or snorkeling for their research. Waterfront facilities include scuba cylinders, air fills and safety equipment. Nitrox in standard and custom blends is available to qualified divers.

Research at the Wrigley Marine Science Center and within the marine refuge must be approved by the WMSC Laboratory Manager, Lauren Czarnecki Oudin: you can reach her by email at or by phone at (310) 510-4002.

Underwater research plans also must be cleared with the USC Diving Safety Officer, Eric Castillo, at or (310) 510-4022. For an on-line dive plan form check here.

Underwater research at the Wrigley Marine Science Center requires an active research diving certification for every member of a diving party. View the Scientific Diver Entry Process (PDF).

For information about fees, rentals and other costs, check here.

For information on space availability, contact Katie Chvostal, WMSC Event Coordinator, at (310) 510-4015.

Scientific Diving Program

The USC Wrigley Institute conducts a university diving safety program in accordance with the standards of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS). USC is an organizational member of the AAUS, and we recognize dive certifications at other AAUS institutions through reciprocity. Nitrox training workshops are available to divers in the USC scientific diving program and in other AAUS programs. For details, please contact the dive safety officer at the Wrigley Marine Science Center. You may also look at our Dive Safety Manual (PDF File) or download the dive log spreadsheet (Excel File).

The Kevin Flanagan Student Travel Award provides up to $800 to undergraduate and/or graduate students interested in diving science to attend American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) scientific meetings. To donate or apply visit: Kevin served as the Wrigley Institute's Dive Safety Officer from 1998-2000.

Your Diving Equipment

For safety reasons, you must provide your own dive gear to conduct underwater research at the Wrigley Marine Science Center. 80 cf aluminum cylinders with yoke-type valves are provided and a few lead block weights are available. If your regulator has a DIN connection, please bring an adapter. If you require a specific weight configuration, please bring it. Please be sure your equipment is complete and functional. A limited selection of dive equipment is available locally at the Two Harbors Dive and Recreation Center for those who forget a required component.

The following equipment is required:

A mask and snorkel, fins, gloves, booties, hood, exposure suit (wet or dry), weight belt and lead, regulator with redundant second stage (also known as an "octopus"), buoyancy compensator, pressure gauge, depth gauge, timing device, compass and cutting tool.

USC requires that you wear a dive data recorder (Sensus Ultra by ReefNet) for all of your dives under USC auspices. It is a small, automatic device that we will issue for your use when you arrive. We use the information it gathers (time, depth and temperature) to log your dives for our insurance carrier. These data are not shared in a format attributable to a specific diver, but we can provide you with your own dive profiles if you request them. Please be sure to return the units when you leave or a replacement charge will be added to your bill.

The following equipment is recommended:

A dive computer, calculator, extra pencils, dive light, marker lights for night dives, replacement items for a "save-a-dive" kit and a slate capable of holding an 8.5" x 11" data sheet.