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Diving into science in Ontario

Throughout Canada, if an academic institution is interested in scientific research diving, the Canadian Association for Underwater Science (CAUS) defines the training standards that need to be followed to carry out the work involved. However, in Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Labour requires by law (Occupational Health and Safety Act, Ontario Regulation 629/94 Diving Operations) that scientific divers be trained to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Z275.4 Diving Competency. These CSA standards are designed for traditional commercial diving (e.g., underwater construction, dam or pipe inspection, welding, explosives, vessel recovery). This commercial dive training is a full, one-year program ($13 500 minimally), and constitutes a level of training that is well outside the time and financial constraints of Masters or Ph.D research programs. As a consequence, academic-based research diving in Ontario has either been driven underground or has stopped completely.

To overcome these above constraints, faculty from Carleton University, Guelph University and Queen’s University collaborated to design and run a 2 1⁄2 week practical Restricted Occupational Diving course recently approved by the Ontario Ministry of Labour (July 2013) and accredited by the Diving Certification Board of Canada (January 2014). This new course trains the academic research community (i.e., fourth-year undergraduate students, Master or Ph.D. students, and Lab Technicians and Faculty) to conduct scientific dives in compliance with Ontario regulations. Upon successful completion of the course, including all formative and summative activities, students will be able to design, develop, and illustrate a comprehensive research dive program in accordance to their stated research objectives, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act Ontario Regulation 629/94 Diving Operations.

Specific learning outcomes include:

●  Describe safe diving practices as a (a) diver, (b) safety diver, and (c) dive tender in accordance to the Occupational Health and Safety Act Ontario Regulation 629/94 Diving Operations.

●  Explain diving physics, physiology, equipment, diving hazards, communication and rigging as these relate to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Z275.5.

●  Design safe non-decompression multi-day research dive-plans using Canadian DCIEM dive tables.

●  Compare the advantages and disadvantages of various sampling methodologies used by research divers (e.g., transects, quadrats, benthic sampling, habitat profiling, sediment coring, behavioural observations, photo stratification, video transects) to address different research goals.

●  Choose appropriate statistical models to analyze complex data sets typically obtained from scientific research diving activities.

Course Details:

  • Schedule: July 10th - July 26th, 2015. The daily routine comprises morning and afternoon dives (min. 25 required) with evening classes.
  • Location: Queens University Biological Research Station (QUBS) 280 Queen's University Rd., RR #1, Elgin,ON
  • Accommodations: Registration fee includes accommodation and daily meals at QUBS, and airfills for the duration of the course.
  • Registration fee: $2200/participant (estimated)
  • Equipment: Participants are required to provide personal dive gear including: a cold water wetsuit or drysuit, dive knife, weight belt & weights (sufficient for drysuit diving), mask, snorkel, fins, dive flashlight, bottom timer (e.g., dive watch or dive computer), dive compass, 2 tanks, and regulator and BCD (serviced within 6 months of course beginning). A sleeping bag and pillow is also recommended. A laptop is also required.

To register for this course, participants must have:

  • Received medical clearance to dive through completion of an occupational diving medical.
  • Achieved at minimum, an open-water sport diving certification from a recognized sport diving organization.
  • Minimum of 20 dives and 10 hours bottom time logged.
  • Current First Aid and CPR.
  • Current Oxygen Provider certification.

For more information on the course and to register, contact Dr. Nigel Waltho, Carleton University, tel: 613-520-2600 x8764, email:, or Dr. Geof Hall, Queen’s University, tel 613-533-3412, email:

On-line membership is now open!

SCL is pleased to announce that members can now join through the website. It's as simple as visiting our registration page, choosing the membership option that's right for you, and voila, you are in. Registering also allows you to create a member profile, which you can edit any time, and provides a means of connecting with other members through the website.

We will keep our discounted 1-year membership rates active until February 14th, 2015. Our 2-year subscriptions remain our best value.

While you're registering, please don't forget to make a donation in support of our Rob Peters Award- this award recognizes the best student paper in the field each year, and is made possible by the generous donations of our members.

Welcome to our new members in 2015!

Great meeting in Ottawa!

Another year, another fantastic meeting with CCFFR in Ottawa!

The meeting kicked off early for some with a workshop on the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area, discussing progress in the first year as an independent entity, as well as upcoming field courses and proposed experiments.

"The Smoker", which is the annual mixer that officially kicks off the meeting, was fantastic. Lots of great conversation as friends and colleagues come together and meet again.

This year had a strong set of presentations, and started off in fine form with plenary lectures by Martin Krkhosek (Stevenson Lecturer, U of T), Daniel Schindler (Rigler Awardee, University of Washington), our very own Alison Derry (UQAM), Anne Phelps (DFO) and a delightfully insightful and provocative talk by Jake Rice (DFO senior scientist). The regular sessions then went into full swing, with SCL-led sessions on Multiple Stressors, Dynamics of Aquatic Nutrients and Algal Blooms, and the Experimental Lakes Area. In all, 213 contributed talks and 72 posters were presented over three days.

Last, the organizing committee held a "student success workshop" with panel discussions on a range of topics, from getting published, science communication and outreach, scoring that job or next grad position, and working at the interface of science and policy. Judging by the reviews on twitter, this was one of the most talked about sessions at the conference, and was very well received.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to the Local Organizing Committee this year (John Lark, Steve Cooke), and the army of volunteers who made it all happen, as well as the generous sponsors and donors (listed in the program), bot those who exhibited and those who supported the conference in so many other ways.

Looking forward to next year in St. John's! Until then...

Accusations of bias no Smol matter

[The following post will appear as an Opinion Editorial in our upcoming issue of our newsletter, "The Current". Please visit back for the release of the latest issue next week. While you're there, check out some of our past issues as well.]

john_articleThis summer, member John Smol was the focus of some surprising and unusual attention. Freedom of Information requests by journalist Tom Korski had unearthed internal government documents (dated Feb 8, 2013) authored by the then Deputy Minister to the Minister of Natural Resources Canada accusing Dr. Smol of “a lack of neutrality” in his communications around a paper he co-authored with a post doc in his lab (Joshua Kurek) and government scientists at Environment Canada, and bemoaned the level of media attention the paper received.

Dr. John Smol is among the most highly decorated and recognized scientists in the country. A past Rigler Award winner for his achievements in Limnology (1995), Dr. Smol is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada, to abridge a long list of accolades and recognition for his outstanding work as a scientist.

The documents disclosing the accusations, while made internally, are telling of how both the government and industry have aligned their messaging on the issue (click here for the briefing and industry response). Continue Reading

CCFFR/SCL meeting in Ottawa Jan 8-11 2015!


We are pleased to announce the upcoming annual society meeting in conjunction with the Canadian Conference of Fisheries Research, January 8-11 2015. Abstract submission is now open, and the deadline for submissions is Nov. 3, 2015. Be sure to check back on our website for all the latest details, including registration and the Clemens-Rigler Travel Award, as they become available. We also hope to announce our 2015 Rigler Award recipient prior to the abstract submission deadline this year, so stay tuned. Continue Reading

Hello, World!

old site expWelcome to our long over-due, shiny-new website! We hope you'll enjoy it. We are hopeful that this new presence on the web continues to better facilitate the reach of our society and member engagement.

Some features that we're pretty excited about are:

  • Society blog. We hope to use this to post not just society information, but use it as a venue for guest blogs by our memberships. Want to show of your blogging chops? We look forward to your submission.
  • An updated and integrated membership renewal form, which dovetails with our website. Updating your membership on our website will also make you a member on the site, and will allow us to better facilitate communications, and keep reminders about when your membership is due.
  • Joining on our website will also provide you with the option to generate and personalize your own member profile.
  • A searchable Jobs board where we place all jobs, placements and graduate opportunities sent to us by the membership.

Continue Reading