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Aquatic invasive species can be transported on SCUBA gear. In one example, killer shrimp attached themselves more effectively to diving wetsuits (compared to two species of amphipods), and is able to survive up to 3.5 days out of the water between layers of diving wetsuits*

SCUBA and Snorkeling Gear Protocols


  • Guidelines from the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force

    • Clean Inspect and clean off visible plants, animals and mud from wetsuit, dry suit, booties, mask, snorkel, fins, buoyancy compensator (BC), regulator, cylinder, weight belt, boat, motor, and trailer before leaving water access.

    • Soak gear used in saltwater dives in 5% dishwashing liquid solution (1 cup/gallon)1 ;or gear used in freshwater dives in 3.5% (½ salt solution (½ cup/gallon) 2 for 30 minutes,

    • Rinse inside and outside of gear with hot water.

    • Drain water from BC, regulator, cylinder boot, boat, motor, and any water containing devices before leaving water access.

    • Dry everything at least five days, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

The following protocol was developed by the USGS:

  • All dive gear and equipment should be inspected and cleaned. Any debris removed from equipment must be thrown into the trash and never into a body of water or flushed down a drain.

  • All dive gear must be washed thoroughly by soaking in warm, soapy water and rinsing in warm, chlorinated tap water. Water temperatures greater than 110 °F have been found to be effective for killing larval zebra mussels; however, water temperatures exceeding 120 °F should not be used as it may damage certain temperature–sensitive dive gear and void some manufacturers’ warranties. Also, Guidance for USFS Eastern Region--Forestry 42 acidic or basic solutions (including vinegar or bleach) should not be used as they may compromise the integrity of thermoplastic materials.

  • Buoyancy compensators must be flushed internally with warm tap water and dried completely using standard procedures as recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Commercial dive gear cleaners, such a wetsuit shampoos, may also be used in the decontamination process.

  • Drains in washing facilities must be attached to a source for wastewater treatment (municipal sewer) and must not discharge into external waters.

  • All dive gear and equipment must be completely dry for a period of at least 24 hours before use in a new water body. Note: wetsuit seams should be closely inspected to insure that the material is completely dry.

Decontamination of SCUBA diving equipment and underwater gear after diving in waters containing zebra / quagga mussels (USGS 2016).


Decontamination of SCUBA diving equipment and underwater gear after diving in waters with diseased corals (USGS 2017).

*Bacela-Spychalska, K., M. Grabowski, T. Rewica, A. Konopacka, and R. Wattier. 2013. The "killer shrimp" Dikerogammarus villosus (Crustacea, Amphipoda) invading Alpine lakes: overland transport by recreational boats and scuba-diving gear as potential entry vectors? Aquatic Conservation 23(4):606-618.

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