University Marine Biological Station Millport
Diving at UMBSM
The sheltered waters and varied sites around Cumbrae and further afield on the west coast of Scotland provide ideal conditions for underwater observation, sampling and experimentation. Many research projects and educational activities at UMBSM are supported by scientific diving. The Station has a diving team comprising the Diving Officer, Chief Diver and two full-time diving technicians. The dive unit has a workshop, changing and shower facilities, SCUBA diving equipment, underwater scientific equipment, fixed and portable compressors, and three small boats. Both of the Station's research vessels are capable of supporting diving operations.
UMBSM operates a two-compartment recompression chamber for treating divers with decompression illness, commonly known as the "bends". Although the chamber is primarily on standby for our own divers, we provide a 24 hour on-call service for other divers, funded and audited by the National Health Service.
In the event of suspected decompression illness (any abnormality within 48 hours after diving):
- at sea or the coast: contact the Coastguard on VHF Channel 16 or telephone 999
- inland in Scotland: call 08454 086008 and ask for the On-call Hyperbaric Consultant
- inland in England, Wales or Northern Ireland: telephone 07831 151523 and ask for the Duty Diving Medical Officer
UMBSM is a member organisation of the UK Scientific Diving Supervisory Committee (SDSC), a body which represents employers of scientific divers. UMBSM staff have chaired the SDSC in two previous periods of office. The Station also hosts a Special Branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club (No. 902) to provide recreational diving opportunities.
If you are planning to undertake scientific diving at UMBSM, please contact the Diving Officer, Dr Philip Smith, well in advance to discuss your requirements. Please note that in accordance with the Scientific and Archaeological Approved Code of Practice and guidelines of the SDSC, students wishing to dive at UMBSM as part of their course work must have a medical certificate issued by a doctor. Self-certification is not accepted.