Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, June 3, 2016

Try SCUBA at the Chattanooga Market June 4 and 5

A volunteer diver in the Tennessee Aquarium’s Nickajack Lake exhibit. - (Photo by John Bamber)

Mark Craven, the Tennessee Aquarium’s dive safety officer, has been working with the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) to bring a 15,000 gallon mobile pool to Chattanooga.

The Go Dive Now Pool travels the U.S. to give the public the chance to try SCUBA diving in a safe environment – free of charge.

“People will be able to try the sport of SCUBA diving and learn about the Aquarium’s volunteer dive program,” said Craven. “It’s a great way to experience the sport and gain a new perspective on our underwater world.”

The Go Dive Now Pool will be set up adjacent to the Chattanooga Market, near the First Tennessee Pavillion, Saturday, June 4 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 5 from noon to 4 p.m. Anyone, ages 10 and up, will be able to “gear up” and spend a little time underwater. Kids ages 10 to 12 must be accompanied in the water by a parent or guardian. Participants will need to bring their own swim suit and a towel, but all of the other equipment will be provided. Changing rooms will be available on site.

The Aquarium has 185 volunteer SCUBA divers who help clean and maintain exhibits, feed animals, and even deliver live education programs while underwater. These divers come from all professional walks of life and a wide range of ages. Last year, volunteers logged more than 6,000 dives in the Aquarium.

More than half of the divers travel a considerable distance to take advantage of the volunteer SCUBA program at the Aquarium. Some divers travel from as far away as Kentucky for the opportunity to spend time in crystal-clear waters with sea turtles, sharks, rays, and massive catfish, sturgeon, and paddlefish.

“We have an incredible group of volunteers who enjoy interacting with our animals while keeping their diving skills sharp and supporting our mission,” said Craven. “But because we dive at the Aquarium 363 days each year, we could always use more divers from the local area.”

Craven says there’s no waiting list to become a volunteer diver at the Aquarium. Anyone who meets the requirements and successfully completes a pool test can join the next class when recruiting begins again in January.

According to DEMA, there are as many as 3.5 million active SCUBA divers in the U.S., which is nearly half of the active SCUBA divers worldwide.

Interested divers can learn more at www.tnaqua.org/volunteer-opportunities/volunteer-diver.

Source: Tennessee Aquarium