Lombardi and Drs. Marc Slattery of the University of Mississippi and Michael Lesser of the University of New Hampshire make the first mixed-gas dives for science at NOAA’s Caribbean Marine Research Center. This marked a significant milestone in US government supported diving for science programs, where new operational standards were drafted for this NURC center. While time at depth was extremely limited, a dozen new species of marine sponge were discovered. This moment in discovery largely catalyzed Lombardi’s new found obsession for improving deep diving for science techniques.