Beyond The Basics

Introduction to Our Underwater Marine Environment

The PADI Underwater Naturalist Course
In this course, you will build an increased awareness and knowledge base about our underwater environment. With this new knowledge you will develop a better appreciation and respect of the responsibility that comes with this new awareness. What is ecology and what is an ecosystem?  You've heard these terms but what do they really mean and how does it apply to what we see underwater and contrast to our terrestrial environment.

You can earn this specialty with 2 ocean dives.  During your Adventure or Advanced Open Water, the Elective Naturalist Dive may also be counted toward Naturalist Dive One of this specialty. 

PADI Underwater Naturalist Specialty goals are:
1. Comparison of the land and aquatic environments
2. Aquatic life mythology and human perceptions of aquatic life.
3. Survey of aquatic life and relationships between aquatic animals.
4. Responsible human interactions with aquatic life. 

The Fun Part

A large proportion of all life on Earth exists in the ocean. Exactly how large the proportion is unknown, since many ocean species are still to be discovered. The ocean is a complex three-dimensional world covering about 70% of the Earth's surface. Because of its depth it contains about 300 times the habitable volume of the terrestrial habitats on Earth. There are more than 21,000 species of fish worldwide. Because there are so many different marine species, it would be impossible to learn all of them or even most of them. Through a basic understanding of key characteristics — along with some essential ecological information — you will have a introduction and foundation to identify common, local aquatic life and to practice diving techniques that keep you from negatively impacting the aquatic environment. You will have the chance to identify examples of relationships between aquatic organisms and indications of impact by man on the local aquatic environment. Also, you will have additional time to refine and improve your diving techniques further.


What You Learn

The purpose of the Underwater Naturalist Specialty Course is to introduce divers to develop knowledge, and observation skills to learn more about why some creatures behave the way they do and what their role is in the marine or aquatic ecosystem.

Look closer to see more on your next dive. Look for symbioses, predator/prey and other relationships between aquatic plant and animal life. Learn not just what fish and animals are, but how they interact with each other and the environment.
  • The major aquatic life groupings, interactions and factual information that dispels negative myths. 
  • The role of aquatic plants, food chains and predator prey relationships 
  • Responsible interactions with aquatic life 
  • The underwater naturalist’s view of organisms and their roles in the environment 
You will put this information into practice during your two open water dives.  Check out this BBC video of our local kelp ecosystem.
The Scuba Gear You Use
You will use the basic scuba diving equipment, Fish identification slate, Data collection slate, etc. Check with Malibu Divers about gear rentals and packages offered with this course. You can find most everything here. 

The Learning Materials You Need
Accurate fish identification is based on thoughtful preparation. With that in mind: Discover the Underwater World — Snorkeler’s Field Guide, Nav-Finder, and A.W.A.R.E. Our World, Our Water manual are highly recommended.

You must be at least:

Minimum Age for this Course: 10 years old 

* Minimum pre-requisite certification level: (Jr) Open Water or equivalent.

Your Next Adventure
If you are interested in becoming an underwater conservationist or documenting what you encounter, you’ll also enjoy these specialty courses::AWARE Fish Identification
Apply for the rating of Master Scuba Diver if you are a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (or have a qualifying certification from another organization) and a PADI Rescue Diver (or have a qualifying certification from another organization) with certification in four other PADI Specialty ratings. This Specialty course certification also counts as one of five Specialty certifications required for Master Scuba Diver certification.

For more information