UCSC Dive Program History. 

By Steve Clabuesch - UCSC's DSO 2000-2022

UCSC was founded in 1965 and as part of the initial physical education program offerings a SCUBA program was started in 1968. Bob Widman was hired to structure and manage a recreational SCUBA program that initially consisted of Open Water One classes (Basic SCUBA) but quickly expanded to include Open Water Two (Advanced SCUBA). In the 1990’s the offering was expanded to include Rescue Diver, Divemaster and Instructor. Since Bob had the diving expertise, he was tapped in 1970 to become the first Diving Safety Officer (DSO) in the nascent UCSC Scientific Diving Program (SDP). Other UCs (UCSD/SIO, UCLA, UCSB and UCB) all had established SDPs and were west coast leaders in the development of SDP methods and training. UCSD/SIO is considered the originator of Scientific Dive training (1954) through Conrad Limbaugh and Jimmy Stewart’s leadership.


In 1972 John Pearse taught his first Kelp Forest Ecology class (“Neritic Ecology”). The only requirement for taking the class was to have a Basic Scuba Certification. Seeing a need for more training after this initial class a Scientific Dive training class was developed as a prerequisite. This class today is known as Bioe75 – Scientific Diving Techniques. The initial instructors for this class were Bob Widman and Rob Ricker. In 1973 the UCSC SDP was “certified” as a qualified UC SDP by Jimmy Stewart.


In 1977 OSHA promulgated commercial diving standards that include SDPs. These rules would create hardships in SDP operations that could potentially eliminate Scientific Diving. Realizing this, a group of SDP managers led by the UC dive program DSOs created the California Advisory Committee on Scientific and Technical Diving (CACSTD). This was the precursor organization of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS). In 1979 AAUS petitioned OSHA for an exemption from commercial dive standards based on their exemplary safety record dating back to 1954. An exemption was granted in 1982 with a final rule issued in 1985. This created a separate standard for Scientific Diving. AAUS is the de facto standard setting body for all Scientific Diving in the US and all member organizations are required to adhere to these standards.


In 1976 Doug MacDonald became UCSC’s second DSO followed by Dave Nagel (1988-1992) then Don Canestro (1992-2000) then Steve Clabuesch (2000-2022) and now Dave Benet. UCSC’s Diving Safety Program averages 100 Science Divers each year, averaging 3500 science and training dives spending over 150,000 minutes underwater.

Diving Control Board

The Diving Control Board (DCB) has independent and autonomous oversight of the scientific diving program's operation as per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The DCB also serves as the policy making body for the Diving Safety Program under UCSC's Environmental Health and Safety Department providing safety oversight and support for all campus SCUBA diving activities.

The DCB provides focus and guidance to the Diving Officer, and has responsibility to: establish and/or approve training programs and diving projects; recommend changes in policy and procedure; review and approve proposals for research and recreational programs which require diving under UCSC auspices; recommend new equipment or techniques; review, revise, and assure compliance with the diving safety manual.

The DCB also acts as a Board of Appeal to consider diver-related problems; periodically reviews the Diving Officer's performance and program; takes disciplinary actions for unsafe practices; suspends diving programs which it considers to be unsafe or unwise; and serves as a Board of Investigation to inquire into the nature and cause of diving accidents and violations of the UCSC diving safety manual.

The DCB is made up of a majority of active scientific divers including faculty members, staff and affiliated researchers, the DSO, Environmental Health and Safety personnel, Institute of Marine Sciences staff, and both graduate and undergraduate student representatives.

For more information about DCB meetings, minutes from previous meetings, UCSC diving policy, or for questions about the DCB, please contact the Diving Safety <divingsafety@ucsc.edu>.

Diving Control Board Members

Steven Loveridge

EH&S Representative: 

Reseach Safety Program Manager, EH&S (sloverid@ucsc.edu)

Pete Dal Ferro

USGS Representative

Unit Diving Officer USGS (pdalferro@usgs.gov)

Calvin Munson

Graduate Student Representative 

Graduate Student, Deparment of EEB (cmunson@ucsc.edu)

Ashley Vizurraga 

Staff Representative


Director, Long Marine Lab (ashviz@ucsc.edu)


Undergraduate Representative

Undergraduate, Department

Traci Kendall

Aquarium Diving Program

Manager of MMPP, Long Marine Lab, (tkendall@ucsc.edu)

Steve Lonhart 

NOAA Representative

SIMoN/MBNMS, steve.lonhart@noaa.gov

Randolph Skrovan

Facilities Representative

Long Marine Lab Facilities Manager, (rskrovan@ucsc.edu)

Dan Abbott

Reef Check California Representative

Central California Regional Manager (dabbott@reefcheck.org)

Dave Benet

Diving Safety Officer

Diving Safety Program (benet@ucsc.edu)

Mark H. Carr

DCB Chair and Faculty Representative


Professor, Department of EEB (carr@ucsc.edu)

Giacomo Bernardi 

Faculty Representative 

Professor, Deparment of EEB (bernardi@ucsc.edu)

Kristy Kroeker

Faculty Representative 

Assistant Professor, Department of EEB (kkroeker@ucsc.edu)