Underwater Surveyor training for citizen-science divers

Distance line training (Simon Rogerson / BSAC)
Distance line training (Simon Rogerson / BSAC)

Underwater Surveyor is the latest course to be launched by the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), devised in partnership with conservation charity Seawilding to help divers and snorkellers participate in citizen-science projects.

Surveying gives participants a new appreciation of the underwater world and is the first step in implementing conservation measures, says BSAC, adding that “with many citizen-science projects it can be challenging to get started, knowing how and what to survey and, in particular, what to do with the data that is collected”.

Underwater Surveyor comprises an eLearning module available through BSAC’s website, followed by two in-water practical training sessions during which two surveys have to be completed. These sessions are delivered either through branches, regionally organised events or commercial dive-centres. 

Students must hold BSAC Ocean Diver or Snorkel Diver qualifications (or equivalent) as a minimum and be current club members. Surveys are conducted within participants’ qualification and experience limits.

BSAC Underwater Surveyor course
Divers on a survey trip (BSAC)

The course covers survey safety and risk assessment, skills and techniques from easy to advanced, equipment and use of survey data. 

“As the ‘eyes under the sea’, our members will be given the skills, confidence and sense of purpose to make a positive contribution to marine conservation,” said CEO Mary Tetley. “We know members are keen to get involved in Operation Oyster or the Great Seagrass Survey, and Underwater Surveyor promises to make ocean science fun and accessible to all.”

Seawilding tackles the climate and biodiversity crises by restoring marine habitats that store carbon and shelter abundant life from its base in Loch Craignish, Scotland.

It says it is pioneering practical, low-cost restoration methodologies to empower other coastal communities to carry out similar projects, and has so far planted out hundreds of thousands of hand-harvested seagrass seeds and restored 350,000 native oysters to Loch Craignish.

A Seawilding group survey
A Seawilding group survey

“Our oceans are under threat as never before, and there are a whole army of divers and snorkellers out there with the skills and passion to do something about it,” commented the charity’s science and survey officer Katherine Knight. 

“The best way to get involved is to be the eyes beneath the waves and record what you see by surveying. So little is known about our oceans that any information gathered is immensely valuable, and qualified BSAC Underwater Surveyors are going to collect rigorous data that can actually make a real difference.”

The BSAC Underwater Surveyor Skill Development Course (SDC) course costs £45 for members. Non-members are welcome to do the eLearning module, costing £30, but would need to join the club if they decided to go on to do the practical, that part of the course costing them a further £25. A Q-card is available on completion.

Also on Divernet: BSAC Liberty CCR course launching at show, BSAC at 70: Where to from here?, Shore Surveyor trains seaside spotters, Great Seagrass Survey surprises organisers, Dive teams home in on native oysters

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