Why Project Baseline is Important to GUE

If it wasn't for GUE, I wouldn't have known about Project Baseline in the first place, because Project Baseline forms the Conservation branch, being one of the three GUE pillars next to Exploration and Education.

Dr. Todd Kincaid (cofounder of GUE) saw an opportunity to help visualize changes in aquatic environments by encouraging GUE trained divers to document changes in their favorite dive locations. Project Baseline became the platform for uploading basic data in the form of photo's, temperature and visibility, but also to create public awareness of the fragile underwater environment. 

The amount of Project Baseline locations grew considerably in the last few years up to 85 projects worldwide since the start of Project Baseline in 2009.

My dive buddies and myself started Project Baseline Haarlemmermeerse bos / The Netherlands on November 27th, 2011, not long after completing a GUE course.




Most divers continue following dive courses to reach their goal, but there are also divers that are done and just want to dive. It's a bit like getting your driver license and just driving for the rest of your life.

How many of you actually kept training, years after the last dive course?

GUE training was based on diving responsibly, effectively, and safely in fragile aquatic environment in the name of science. To me it's obvious that you can train those GUE skills best, while doing what GUE was based on. Project Baseline measurements for instance.

Project Baseline locations always need to have data collected over a very long period of time, but how do you reach those divers that have little or no interest in collecting data? Well I think Project Baseline can play a role.


Off course you can train, but that can be just as boring as doing visibility measurements every so often. Combining training and logging data can spice up your dive and is productive at the same time.

Doing visibility measurements, does actually help you to keep your basic skills such as buoyancy and back kick in tiptop condition and especially in clear waters where a back kick can last forever.

It's that back kick that often becomes a forgotten skill.

Here are some examples how to train and collect data at the same time.

I've only tried the first three. Regarding the fourth, I usually give orders.

The fifth is yet to come. 

Visibility measurement at twice the speed. 

One holds the Secchi disk and the other diver then operates the spool while both divers do a back kick. 

Taking a temperature measurement at every meter from bottom to top in the blue or green.

You could do this with or without a Surface Marker Buoy (nice task for your buddy) and writing down the data in your wet notes at the same time. It can be quite a challenge at a thermocline. I do use an alcohol thermometer for that, because it responds quicker and is more accurate. For the true Die Hards, a lagging dive computer has an average sampling rate of 20 seconds, so you would at least have to stay at depth for one minute or more. 

Taking a photo of a station or object close to the bottom, without touching the bottom. Photo Credit: Project Baseline Haarlemmermeer

In freshwater lakes, light sediment can really turn into a silt out.

Brain training and task load.

Getting multiple tasks from a Project Manager can be a challenge too, because the moment we stick our heads underwater, we tend to forget things more easily.

Try to remember everything you've seen during a dive. It’s hard to do.

Out of gas situation, while performing a measurement or taking a photo.

It helps to create more awareness and make split second decisions on what to do with your equipment. Do you drop it or have you already clipped away unnecessary equipment?

Social aspect


Project Baseline's local events should act as a broad platform to meet divers from all trades. Remember Project Baseline certainly isn't there for GUE divers alone, because the pool of GUE divers is not endless. Project Baseline is ideal for all divers who seek a new challenge and purpose to diving. Some even may run into certain limitations, when doing Project Baseline tasks. After a while they just might pop the question where you've learned to dive and want to know more about it.

Well that is why Project Baseline is important to GUE, next to the other things I've mentioned.


Submited by: Axel Gunderson-Project Manager-PB Haarlemmermeerse bosplas / The Netherlands.

Photo Credit: PB Haarlemmermeerse bosplas 


Project Baseline has been at the forefront of increasing awareness of Florida reef decline as well as monitoring the health index for nearly 70 marine and freshwater environments world-wide since 2009. Watch as Project Baseline takes CNN underwater for special media coverage on Florida reefs - http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2016/06/26/florida-dying-reefs-sanchez-nd.cnn