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Underwater Naturalist Certification

Welcome committed divers and underwater naturalists!

We know you already think exploring the ocean is awesome, but you want to know more about what you see. You feel that diving is more than just a sport; it’s a way to connect with underwater nature. We understand you love diving, but you want to do it better to avoid negatively impacting marine habitats.

So, get ready because I’m going to talk to you about underwater naturalists.

Sure, it’s great to see sharks, octopuses, and corals on your dives, but can you imagine getting to know those other fish you don’t even know the names of, knowing where they hide, how they behave, and why they are so important to the ecosystem? If you’re passionate about diving and feel like a guardian of the ocean, take a look at the table of contents.

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1. What Is an Underwater Naturalist?

Who wouldn’t be excited to see hawksbill turtles busy crunching coral with their beaks to eat it, or an octopus giving a camouflage class? But an underwater naturalist goes beyond the “ooohs” and “aaahs.”

They’re like detectives of the marine habitat. Underwater naturalists dive to discover and understand the secrets of the ecosystem. So, we search for relationships between species, who eats whom, who lives with whom, and how they manage to live together in the same habitat. We don’t just want to see Nemo and his friends; we want to understand how their world works!

That way, when we see a moray eel and a grouper inspecting a reef together, we know they’re cooperating to hunt; that the shrimp willingly entering the mouths of other fish aren’t potential suicides or about to be swallowed, and that the bush over there, resembling a fan, isn’t a plant but small animal polyps gathering in that shape to feed.

Most importantly, by understanding these behaviors, we can help take care of the ocean.


2. What Skills Are Important for An Underwater Naturalist?

To be skilled at identifying underwater creatures and ecosystems, you’ll need these abilities.

The underwater naturalist is a proficient diver: mastering safe and responsible diving techniques, as well as having excellent control of buoyancy, trim, and fin kicks to move smoothly. They excel in underwater navigation and communication with dive buddies.

They have observational skills:

Observing without disturbing: it’s vital to observe and interact with marine life without disturbing them. There’s no other way to understand food chains and symbiotic relationships.

They possess a scientific spirit: they know how to classify animals, train their eyes to distinguish a mollusk from a crustacean without breaking a sweat, take detailed notes of their observations, including location, date, time, and environmental conditions, and research them later.

They’re often skilled underwater photographers and share their photos with other naturalists and diving enthusiasts to contribute to the dissemination and conservation of the marine environment.

They put their knowledge into action: all that knowledge comes into play during their dives. They’re aware of the impact their presence has on the underwater environment and dive responsibly.

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3. How to Become an Underwater Naturalist

  • Read books and articles: Deepen your knowledge with books and articles on marine biology, underwater ecology, and naturalism techniques.
  • Attend conferences and events: Stay updated on the latest research and discoveries in the marine world by participating in specialized events.
  • Watch documentaries and educational videos: There are numerous documentaries and educational videos about the marine world that you can find on platforms like YouTube or Netflix. These audiovisual resources can help you become familiar with different underwater species and ecosystems.
  • Join diving clubs and online communities: Engage in local diving clubs or online communities of underwater naturalists. Interacting with other enthusiasts allows you to learn from their experiences, receive advice, and find opportunities for dives and observations together.
  • Contact non-governmental organizations (NGOs): Many NGOs dedicated to marine conservation offer courses in underwater naturalism and often have a more specific focus on the region or ecosystem that interests you.
  • Get certified as an Underwater Naturalist


4. Courses and certifications for Underwater Naturalists

You can take any Underwater Naturalist Specialty Courses with Dressel Divers in all our locations.


  • 4.1. PADI Underwater Naturalist

In the PADI Underwater Naturalist course, you will learn about:

  • The main groups of marine life: fish, invertebrates, algae, and more.
  • The complex interactions between species: symbiosis, predator-prey relationships, the role of aquatic plants, and much more.
  • Marine habitats and their importance for underwater life: reefs, caves, sandy bottoms…
  • Threats to marine ecosystems and how we can protect them.


  • 4.2. SDI Marine Eco Systems Awareness Diver

What does the SDI Marine Eco Systems Awareness Diver course cover?

Ocean secrets: Temperature, salinity, light, waves, tides, currents, and nutrient cycles. You’ll become an expert on how the sea operates!

Marine flora and fauna: Plankton, aquatic plants, aquatic animals, specific local animals, and food chains. You’ll get to know all the inhabitants of the sea!

Animal behavior: How animals change their behavior according to the day and time. Fascinating!

Underwater ecosystems: Tropical reefs, temperate reefs, and freshwater ecosystems. You’ll discover the diversity of the underwater world!

Sustainable diving: Environmentally friendly diving techniques, buoyancy control, kick technique, and local considerations. You’ll become a responsible diver!

Threats to the ocean: Global habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing, coral bleaching, and interactions between divers and animals. You’ll learn how to protect the sea!

Observation techniques: Grids, passive observation, and collection methods. You’ll become an underwater scientist!

Diving information recording: How to record your observations and contribute to marine research. You’ll become a citizen scientist!

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5. Is It Worth Taking an Underwater Naturalist Course?

Definitely! Divers who have taken the courses have very positive opinions. They highlight that it has allowed them to:

  • Enhance their appreciation for diving: by better understanding marine life, each dive becomes richer and more exciting.
  • Contribute to ocean conservation: with the knowledge gained, you can be a more active advocate for marine ecosystems.
  • Become a better diver: by interacting with wildlife in a responsible manner.


6. Where To Practice Underwater Naturalist Diving in The Caribbean?

If you’re looking for an ideal destination for naturalist diving in the Caribbean, Cozumel is the place to be. This paradisiacal island boasts the best reefs of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest in the world.

Why Cozumel?

  • Marine diversity: Cozumel boasts one of the greatest marine diversities in the Caribbean, with over 800 species of fish and 250 species of corals.
  • Exceptional visibility: The crystal-clear waters of Cozumel allow for underwater visibility of up to 50 meters, perfect for observing marine life in detail.
  • Accessibility:  Dressel Divers Cozumel offers courses for beginners, experienced divers, and even Underwater Naturalist courses.
  • Infrastructure: Cozumel has extensive tourist infrastructure, with hotels, restaurants, and shops to suit all tastes and budgets.

Naturalist diving allows you to go beyond just observing fish and corals. Become a guardian of the ocean by understanding the underwater ecosystem, identifying creatures, and contributing to their conservation with underwater naturalist courses and certifications… Enjoy more enriching and responsible dives!


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