Monday, May 20, 2024
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The Cambrian Foundation: Promoting the Science of Today and Inspiring the Scientists of Tomorrow

One of the most exciting things about diving is that it’s very easy to make your way to the frontier.

Until the middle of the 20th century, the average person had about as much access to the deep as they did to the space beyond our orbit. There’s still plenty to explore, and myriad ways to be a pioneer. That is an opportunity that is precious and rare in a time when it can seem like there is nothing new under the sun.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as any surprise that diving is filled with the scientific-minded, whether they be academics, professional researchers, or autodidactic amateur naturalists. For the deeply curious, diving offers access to an environment that few ever get to observe. The ocean offers us so much — untold adventure, exotic creatures, and a wealth of information, but divers have a rather heartwarming tendency of giving back measure-for-measure.

That symbiotic relationship is exemplified by the hard work being done over at the Cambrian Foundation. After seeing a couple of their ambassadors roaming around DEMA Show 2015, got word that the woman to talk to about their program was Amy Giannotti, the president for the past 10 years.

Cambrian Foundation President - Amy Giannotti
Cambrian Foundation President – Amy Giannotti

She was kind enough to correspond with us about the goals and activities that the Cambrian Foundation has been involved with since its inception in 1997. Their mission statement avows that they are:

“Dedicated to research, education, preservation, and exploration of the aquatic realm.”

In practice, that plays out two ways. The first is education through outreach.

Amy estimates that the Foundation reaches nearly 15,000 students each year. They visit classrooms and community gatherings to share their passion and knowledge about diving, conservation, and history. Where they can, they build in opportunities for students to visit the field as part of the team, finding roles for them alongside technical divers, marine archaeologists, even the occasional National Geographic videographer! When they reach high school and college, the Cambrian Foundation welcomes young citizen-scientists aboard as interns, where it’s not uncommon for them to stay on as volunteers once their term is over. And, as one good turn deserves another, the Foundation provides free scuba classes as way to honor those contributions.

In addition to their work with students, the Cambrian Foundation exploits their unique skill set as advanced technical divers to grow the body of scientific knowledge on everything from submarine caves to century-old shipwrecks. Partnering with groups like NOAA and the US Navy, team members have conducted research such as archaeological artifact recovery on the wreck of the USS Monitor at 240 feet and sediment sampling 408 feet down at the bottom of Belize’s Blue Hole.

Lending their expertise to further the work of researchers from many disciplines and sharing their enthusiasm for the ocean isn’t free, however.

The Foundation relies on grants, contributions from private donors, and sponsorships from their partners, plus a semi-yearly fundraiser. To say nothing of their all-volunteer staff.

Inspiring the scientists, divers, and ecologically-minded citizens of the future while furthering the efforts of those already on the path is a labor of love. If these goals strike a chord with you, take advantage of the Cambrian Foundation’s Holiday Fundraiser, their partnership with AmazonSmile.

Anytime you shop with Amazon this season, log in through and choose the Cambrian Foundation as the organization you wish to support. They’ll get .5%, and you’ll officially be a patron of the advancement of knowledge about the ocean. Fine holiday fun!

Their website had just gone for a massive overhaul, so check it out at to learn more about what they do and to see how you can get involved.

Remember what it was like when you first fell in love with the ocean? Help the Foundation share that feeling with the next generation so they can grow up to be the explorers and cutting-edge researchers of tomorrow. Check out their Facebook page here.

Erin Durbin-Sherer
Erin Durbin-Sherer
Erin began diving in 2012 as preparation for a trip to Hawaii and before the year was out she'd left her old life behind to work in the dive industry full-time. When she's not out exploring the deep and collecting c-cards, you might find her making art or working on her master's thesis in cultural anthropology at San Diego State University. Erin is an Associate Editor with


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