Chris Olstad, BS., AQ

Chris Olstad is a biologist and underwater technologist with  the Marine Resources Development Foundation, and has operated their  Key Largo based manned underwater laboratory habitat "MarineLab" since 1984. 

Chris has overseen and directly participated in over 575 scientific  and educational compressed air and normoxic nitrox saturation missions (24 hours to 30 days duration, involving well over 1,200 aquanauts) in MarineLab, the nearby Jules Undersea Lodge, and Scott Carpenter Station. Missions have involved NASA, NOAA, the US NAVY as well as many colleges, universities and high school students throughout the United States. Aquanaut projects have included investigations in; marine biology, ocean engineering, human physiology, alternative life support systems, microbiology, human behavior & performance,  computerized remote sensing/actuating, and robotics.

As an aquanaut Chris has saturated in the three above mentioned habitats and has been an invited guest to experience sub-saturation exposures in NOAA’s Aquarius Habitat at both the US Virgin Islands and Key Largo Site (for technology transfer/pre-saturation aquanaut mission training exercises, and general systems briefing … respectively).

Directly involved in studying the human physiological effects of  shallow saturation exposures, Chris along with the University of  Pennsylvania's (IFEM) and Canada's (DCIEM) has co-investigated and  co-authored NOAA (NURP) funded research presented at Undersea  Hyperbaric Medical Society Meetings, and published in the journals  of Applied Physiology, and Undersea Biomedical Research.

Prior to joining Marine Resources, Chris worked as a submersible  mechanic/technician with Perry Oceanographics (submarine builders division) assembling, integrating, & testing; deep diving saturation chambers,gas consoles, submersibles, and remotely operated vehicles (one which operated at depths of 20,000 feet). At Continental Shelf  Associates, Chris worked as both a marine biologist and commercial diver, which included; undersea biological surveys and research techniques with their dive team (under contract with the Federal Bureau of Land Management) to asses the impact of an offshore oil rig near the Flower Gardens Bank in the Gulf of Mexico. Other commercial diving experience has included; underwater cutting & welding, culvert stabilization, search & recovery, and pier restoration.

A regular speaker on the “History & Technology of Manned Undersea Habitats” at Marine Resources, Chris has recently been presenting on “Internet Micro-ROV Applications from Manned Undersea Stations” at the VideoRay International Partners Symposiums, and the Underwater Intervention Conference.

Chris has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Lynchburg College in Virginia, and an Associate Degree of Science in Underwater Technology from Florida Institute of Technology. Professional interests include; manned undersea habitation, undersea research & exploration, and subsea robotic systems.


Chris has logged more underwater hours living and working from undersea habitats and has directly supervised more aquanauts on more missions than any other human. We specifically selected Chris to be our Chief Aquanaut because he has no equal under the sea.