Peter Southwood

Graduated from University of Stellenbosch with B.Eng. (Mechanical/Marine), did national service on Strike Craft as engineering officer and worked as naval architecture consultant in Cape Town for a short time, during which he attended his first diver training at Underwater World, qualifying as the equivalent of a one star diver, before returning to Stellenbosch as a lecturer in mechanical engineering. During this time he joined the Stellenbosch Underwater Club (1983) and really got involved. SAUU Two star was quickly followed by Compressor Operator and Club Instructor, and he took over the committee position of equipment officer, which he held for several years.

A shortage of competitors for the university Scuba Orienteering team encouraged him to have a go, and the technical challenges kept him interested. Several experimental rigs and a lot of practice later, he managed first place overall at the SA Universities Scuba Orienteering competition (1985), closely followed by the National Championships (1986). This introduction to underwater navigation led to an enduring interest in navigation, equipment R&D and surveying of dive sites, which has grown over the years. Around this time he bought a Nikonos 2 and assorted accessories and started taking a special interest in marine invertebrates, as they tended to stay still for long enough to take decent macro photographs. Three star followed, as did Provincial Instructor and a stint as chairman of the Western Province College of Underwater Instructors.

He attended a NAUI ITC in Cape Town in 1986, qualified, and soon afterwards helped complete a friend's yacht and sailed for the Caribbean, with stops in St Helena and Brazil, for some emergency repairs. He spent about a year in the Caribbean as an archaeological diver, dive-master and instructor, returning to SA in 1987. He was awarded SAUU Four star diver and National Instructor in 1989.

He worked in yacht building for a few years then went into partnership in a light engineering business, also doing some R&D in diving equipment, and is now retired.

During this time he also trained and qualified as a Class 4 commercial diver and has done mostly scientific diving work as a freelance diver and volunteer work for local researchers and the Two Oceans Aquarium. He subsequently qualified as Class 4 Nitrox diver, having just written the training manual, followed by Class 4 Supervisor and later Class 3 diver, mainly to help with writing training materials. He is currently registered as a Class 3 Instructor and is an advisor to the Department of Labour on commercial diver training. On the technical side he has also qualified as NAUI SCR Rebreather diver, CMAS Normoxic Trimix Diver and Gas Blender. He has attended a GUE Fundamentals course, but as a frequent solo diver, has not applied for registration.

He assisted with public comment on the Diving regulations 2007 and the Codes of practice for commercial diving, which were published in 2007. Current volunteer work on the Diving Advisory Board includes reviewing and updating commercial diving training standards, Codes of Practice for various applications of professional diving and Commercial diver training, and review and updating the Diving Regulations to the Occupational Health and safety Act.

He has contributed to several citizen science projects in connection with marine biology, including operating the Reef Life Survey research vessel Reef Dragon on part of its trans-Pacific expedition in New Zealand, and on part of its circumnavigation of Australia

He is busy with a long term project of surveying and mapping the dive sites of Cape Peninsula and False Bay (SURGMAP), and recording the species found at each site, later recording the biodiversity by digital photography. This project started as a purely personal effort, but it has slotted in with several official projects. He has contributed significantly to the SANBI SeaKeys project by way of data collection, uploading observations on the iSpot Citizen Science database and producing training materials on a Moodle platform for the South African Diver baieBIO and Fundi skill recognition system, and for the training of instructors for the project. The South African Diver project is a collaboration led by fellow SURG member Georgina Jones.

At present he is retired, doing increasingly rare consulting work in small craft design and plan approval (for money), and writes diver training manuals, operations manuals and codes of practice, and provides input for commercial diver training policies (for which money has not been offered, but somebody has to do it).

Areas of interest and specialised knowledge:
  • Dive site topography mapping (SURGMAP) and recording marine biodiversity. (iSpot)
  • Diver training and assessment standards, methods and materials. (Diving Advisory Board)
  • Scientific diving legislation, procedures, and codes of practice.(Diving Advisory Board)
  • Special purpose diving and research equipment.(SURGware)
  • Low tech and cost effective engineering solutions.(Southwood Engineering)
  • Rebreather design.

Areas dived within South Africa:

Eland's Bay, St Helena Bay, Cape Columbine, Langebaan Lagoon, Cape Town (Robben Island to Rooi-Els), Hangklip, Betty's Bay, Botrivier Vlei, Hermanus, Gansbaai, Struisbaai, Mossel Bay, Knysna Lagoon and Heads, Plettenberg Bay, Storms River Mouth, Port Elizabeth, Scottsburgh, Aliwal Shoal, Durban, Sodwana Bay, Wondergat, Various inland dams and quarries.

Areas dived internationally

St. Helena island, Bequia, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Barthelemy, St. Christopher and Nevis, Saba, Mozambique (Guinjata Bay), North Island of New Zealand from Three Kings to White Island, and Southern Australia from Perth to Adelaide and the east coast of Tasmania

  • Southwood, P.B. 1987. Scuba Orienteering Manual. South African Underwater Union
  • Southwood, P.B. Hanekom, P. and Truter P. 2003. Class IV Nitrox Diver Training Manual. Research Diving Unit, University of Cape Town
  • Southwood, P.B. and Beresford M. 2006 Normoxic Trimix Diver Training Manual. CMAS-ISA
  • Southwood, P.B. 2007. High Pressure Breathing Air Compressor Operator Training Manual and training aids CMAS-ISA

  • Hempson, T. 2006. Symbionts of comatulid crinoids in False Bay. University of Cape Town.
  • Wikipedia: WikiProject Scuba diving Portal:Underwater diving, and a large range of free online encyclopaedia articles on all aspects of diving (ongoing)
  • Wikivoyage: Free online travel guides for scuba diving, particularly Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay, including site maps (ongoing)
  • DIVE South Africa: baieBIO and Fundi diving ecological observer and instructor training programme and materials, and associated Moodle website. (ongoing)
  • Department of Labour Commercial Diver web-based external examination system on a Moodle platform. (ongoing)

Photographic Contributions - Magazines and Books

  • Koornhof, A. 1991 and later editions, The Dive sites of South Africa. Struik publishers, Cape Town.
and others...
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