The history of diving along the Channel Islands

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This one-person atmospheric diving suit displayed at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is used primarily in oil industry projects. The suit has a hard magnesium shell and can descend 2000 ft below the surface. It weighs nearly 800 pounds above water. Photo credit: Carolina Starin/KCRW

The Conception fire marks the largest loss of life in the history of the Santa Barbara Channel.  The cause of the fire is now the subject of an intensive investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other federal and county agencies. 

Despite the Santa Barbara Channel’s difficult water and weather patterns and history of disasters, it has served as the birthplace of commercial and recreational diving.

The needs of fishermen and oil company divers in the Santa Barbara Channel helped advance the technology of commercial and recreational diving suits and helmets. Photo credit: Carolina Starin



  • Greg Gorga - Executive Director, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum


Carolina Starin