Diving In, Literally!

My name is Tori and I have been a volunteer in the Education department at the Aquarium since 2007. I am now a part of a team of ten students selected to learn how to scuba dive and then travel to the Bahamas on a learning and research expedition.

Tori carrying her steel tank.

The second Sunday session was one of the most fun, productive, and rewarding days. This was the first day that we were able to use the scuba tanks and buoyancy control devices (BCDs). Regulators, as well as a pressure gauge and a tube to connect to the BCD, are attached to the tank. One regulator is for primary use, while a second regulator (usually colored bright yellow) is a backup and can be used if a buddy diver needs to share air. The pressure gauge lets a diver know how much air is in their tank.

The BCD fits like a vest and can inflate to obtain positive buoyancy, or deflate and work with either integrated weights (weights inside the BCD) or a weight belt (weights connected outside the BCD), to obtain negative buoyancy. The goal of most divers, however, is to obtain neutral buoyancy, so the combination of these pieces of gear is very important. Once we all got our wetsuits on, we were all given our BCDs and tanks, and we learned how to use them and correctly set them up.

Tori sets up her gear.

Then, we entered the water!

We weighted ourselves down and took our first breaths underwater -- an incredible feeling! After we were comfortable swimming around and breathing underwater, we started to learn some skills, such as removing our regulators underwater or taking our masks off underwater. Taking my mask off underwater was one of the scariest things that I had done so far. After a while, though, I got used to breathing without a mask on and was able to complete the skills.

After a much-deserved lunch, we entered the water again...this time, to the large pool! While in the large pool, we practiced sharing air with a buddy diver, and practiced ascents and descents (going up and going down in the water).

Students practicing air sharing skills.

At the end of the day, we took a group photo underwater with our gear!

Group photo in the deep end of the pool.

Scuba diving for the first time was certainly an exciting, and somewhat overwhelming experience. I most definitely cannot wait to scuba again!

- Tori

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