Scientific diving team | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Scientific diving team

VLIZ has a scientific diving team consisting of seven members, supplemented with about five volunteers, all in the possession of the required diving certificates to perform scientific diving operations in the North Sea and the inland waters. The diving team is equipped with modern diving gear and safety equipment.

Diving equipment

The diving team of VLIZ is equipped with modern diving equipment.

Five complete diving gears (drysuit, bottle with wing, relaxers, diving computers, etc.) with accompanying safety equipment (medical oxygen sets, first aid cases, CPR system for reanimation, throw lines and a net for rescue operations in the water) are present. The NITROX installation allows both air and NITROX mixtures with an oxygen level up to 40 %, allowing the selection of the ideal breathing mixture based on the planned diving depth.

Lift balloons for recovery of equipment and recording devices for taking underwater footage are available. The pictures are obtained using an Olympus TG-3 or TG-4 with underwater housing and flashlights. Videos are made using a GoPro Hero 3 or 4 with Huygfot GoPro+ OW-housing and double Green Force Squid 1850 lightning.

The GAPS positioning system allows to localize the divers at any time.

Scientific diving operations

The scientific diving team operates usually from the RV Simon Stevin, but also other research vessels or even hired vessels may serve as a base of operation. The availability of a rigid inflatable boat RIB Zeekat enables a flexible deployment of the team.

The activities which the diving team can perform varies from sampling (sediment, water, epifauna ...) over placement of devices on the seafloor (acoustic receivers, hydrophones) to performing observations and shooting underwater footage. Localizing and recovering lost (scientific) equipment also belongs to the possibilities.

The scientific diving team has already been deployed for various scientific projects, including LifeWatch and SeArch. In the framework of LifeWatch, a number of sensors have been installed in the Belgian Part of the North Sea. Two of these sensors are the Fish acoustic receiver network and the Cetacean passive acoustic network. Hydrophones have been installed at strategic locations for both networks. Where possible, navigation buoys were used, but if these were not available, underwater structures, like ship wrecks, have been used. The receivers on the underwater structures have been placed by divers. Within the SeArch-project,the Hogere Zeevaartschool from Antwerp, in collaboration with Onroerend Erfgoed, started investigating corrosion and decay of steel ship wrecks. For this project, scientific divers from Onroerend Erfgoed and VLIZ made thickness measurements of the steel plates of several wrecks in the North Sea.

Also, VLIZ is a member of the Belgian Working Group on Scientific Diving, which is in charge of the training of scientific divers according to the guidelines of the European Marine Board Panel on Scientific Diving.


Contact VLIZ for more information regarding the scientific diving team.