Meet Scott Chapman

Dive Safety Officer

Interview by Emilio Orozco, high school student and former Aquarium Student Oceanography Club (SOC) member


Describe your job here at the Aquarium.

My primary job function is to ensure all diving-related activities conducted under the auspices of the Monterey Bay Aquarium meet or exceed occupational and scientific diving standards. This includes oversight of in-water tasks conducted by staff, volunteers or individuals from other institutions participating in diving, snorkeling or swimming with the Aquarium. Thankfully, I don't do this alone—there are five of us in the Dive Office tackling various aspects of managing the Aquarium's dive program. We recruit volunteers, evaluate and train dive team members, run a surface-scuba program for kids, maintain dive gear and constantly hone our skills in dive safety and rescue techniques. Also, I get to dive a lot participating in animal collections, exhibit maintenance, feedings, field projects and much more!

What experience or skills do you need to work in this field?

You need strong leadership skills and an extensive dive training background. You need to understand diving physics and physiology and have training in dive accident management—you also need to be able to teach these concepts and skills to dive team members. It's essential that you understand occupational and scientific diving regulatory standards. Strong communication skills and computer literacy are a must. You should be able to maintain and repair dive equipment. An understanding of marine science and oceanography are also beneficial, along with boating experience.

"Learn as much as you can about the ocean, dive gear, diving techniques and safety."

What did you study?

I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from San Jose State University. I returned to SJSU and received a master's in exercise physiology. Then I went through the scuba program at West Valley College, receiving most of my diving certifications.

What do you like the most about your job?

The fact that I get paid to dive still blows my mind! I really love teaching. My most rewarding days are when I'm in the water training new dive team members.

What's your advice for students interested in your career?

Dive, dive, dive! Learn from a variety of scuba instructors—borrow their best techniques. Volunteer or intern with an academic or occupational dive program (e.g., Monterey Bay Aquarium). Learn as much as you can about the ocean, dive gear, diving techniques and safety. And, when you're ready for it, read through OSHA diving standards.

What's your favorite Aquarium experience?

Taking kids with exceptional needs into our Great Tide Pool during the Underwater Explorers Days of Discovery event. We refer to it as "the best day of the year." Working with these amazing kids and their families and sharing the experience with volunteers and staff is extremely rewarding for all.


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