Several research projects led by ECIM researchers involve scientific diving along the coast of continental Chile, from Arica to Magallanes, Antarctica, as well as the oceanic islands of Juan Fernández and Easter Island. Scientific exploration of the rich benthic communities of the energetic and diverse Pacific Ocean is indeed one of the core contributions that ECIM makes to the country of Chile and the entire world. This exploration is conducted in different manners, including core samples of the sea bottom, deployment of instruments, ROV video and photographic exploration and, in many cases, scientific research projects involve autonomous (SCUBA) diving. Diving is one of the most fascinating activities conducted by marine biologists around the world and the comparatively unexplored Chilean waters offer great opportunities to learn about the diversity of marine life and the functioning of marine ecosystems. The group of researchers associated with ECIM develop underwater research projects in the kelp forests and rocky bottoms of the rich temperate waters of central Chile, in the extremely diverse cold waters of the Patagonian fjords, the beautiful temperate waters of Juan Fernández Archipelago, and in the tropical, coral-dominated ecosystems of the mystic Easter Island.
Autonomous diving exposes researchers to risks that must be well known by all participants and must be reduced and possibly eliminated for a safe and successful diving experience. Researchers in charge of the respective grants are individually responsible for conducting a safe diving operation and must adhere strictly to ECIM UC regulations if they are associated in any manner or form to the laboratory. ECIM does not offer diving courses or formal instruction classes. All divers must therefore have proper training and certification before attempting scientific diving at ECIM.
To support and improve safety of all scientific diving operations, ECIM has a small Diving Program and SCUBA diving facilities. All divers, including residents and visitors, who intend to dive using any of ECIM facilities or in association to any of the UC research grants, must read the “ECIM Program Fee Waiver Application Form”, fill all the required forms, get authorized by the Dive Officer, and adhere strictly to the procedures and regulations stated in the Reglamento de Buceo. For the safety and success of the scientific diving operations, ECIM Director and the Dive Officer can deny permission to dive under the sponsorship of ECIM to any person at any given time.