Twenty years ago, we called it ‘Technical Diving for Science’, but it has grown to mean so much more than that…
Technical diving itself has always been about adopting new technology or techniques to help safely and efficiently extend the range of any given diving endeavor. Things like nitrox, mixed-gas, staged decompression, and rebreathers of today have all run their course in becoming progressively more standardized as tools of the more ambitious diver.
Within the occupational setting of scientific diving, where diving is used as a tool to gather data for the advancement of science, adoption of progressive technology and techniques can be very, very slow given the bureaucracies of the institutional realm. This leaves the majority of progressive program development coming from the private sector. At the same time, private sector innovations are needed to take science to new depths, and even new frontiers. The gap that lies in this technology transfer is the bottleneck for future advancement in human intervention.
To make substantial advancements in ‘technical diving for science’ today, our community is in need of a massive paradigm shift that again puts the human at the center of underwater problem solving across the spectrum of depths and novel environments. While not a replacement for undersea robotics and autonomous vehicles or sensors, ‘the human element’ is forever needed to provide the value of experience, reaction time, situational and spatial awareness, and immediate problem-solving and response to change.
Ocean Opportunity Inc. was born in response to some of these challenges, and keeps ‘the human element’ central to its evolving programs. We engage in developing new policies, drafting standards, funding related R&D, and demonstrating new diving technologies through productive programs that advance scientific exploration and lead to many new discoveries that improve our quality of life.