Antarctic diving

A diver deploys the seapHOx instrument at the ocean acidification study site in O'Brien Bay
A diver deploys the seapHOx instrument at the ocean acidification study site in O'Brien Bay (Photo: antFOCE team)
A scientific diver collects data on seaweed under the sea ice at Casey.A diver deploys mini-chambers on the sea floor at O'Brien Bay, Casey.A diver moves along the surface of open water at Davis.Man in old fashioned diving suit

Marine research is a vital component of Australia's Antarctic science program.

A huge variety of scientific projects investigate both the physical and biological components of the marine environment, from oceans to coasts, and from surface waters to the seabed. Many aspects of marine research are conducted remotely from boats and ships using specialised sampling equipment and instruments.

For some projects, however, the only useful way to obtain results is to get into the water to make observations, collect samples and to manually deploy and retrieve experiments.

In 1997 the Australian Antarctic Division established a multi-year summer diving program to support near-shore marine science.

Initially, the program focused on research into marine contamination at Casey station. The scope and type of supported research has broadened considerably since then, with a wide variety of Australian and international research programs made possible by the dive team's efforts.

In 2014/15 the dive program enabled Australian scientists to use underwater chambers to measure the impact of ocean acidification on seafloor (‘benthic’) communities in O'Brien Bay, near Casey.

Diving has been conducted at both Casey and Davis stations.