The divers you see in our Shark Reef exhibit are staff members and volunteers with two things in common: they’re certified SCUBA divers and they’ve passed our rigorous assessment process.
Becoming a volunteer diver in our aquarium is a multi-step process. First, you must already be a certified SCUBA diver. You must also complete a dive physical and become CPR/AED certified.
Certified SCUBA divers interested in joining our dive program are encouraged to come to our informational meeting January 30, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. to learn more about the program. After attending this meeting, prospective volunteers must fill out an online application. If selected, candidates will participate in an interview with our volunteer program manager, aquarium curator, and dive safety officer.
Divers who pass the interview must then participate in a skills evaluation at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. During this evaluation, our team will gauge participants’ comfort in the water as well as their fitness level. Skills are based on the standards set forth in our Dive Safety Manual (which is based on OSHA standards for commercial diver). The evaluation includes:
- A 400-meter swim (16 laps!)
- Towing a buddy 25 meters across the pool, unaided
- Retrieving a 10-pound weight from the bottom of the pool
- Treading water for 10 minutes
- Swimming underwater for 25 yards on one breath
After the skills evaluation, seven modules of classroom work are required before participants can actually get into the water for a checkout dive in our Shark Reef exhibit’s acclimation pool. During the checkout dive, divers will get comfortable in the water, check weights and practice emergency situations in a safe, controlled environment.
Once comfortable with our equipment, divers will participate in a double dive in our 90,000-gallon Shark Reef exhibit. During this session, the volunteer will receive orientation and learn the rules of the road when it comes to working around animals before joining our dive safety officer in the water. Using a microphone system that enables the pair to communicate, the diver will have the opportunity to ask questions during this experience. This step can be repeated multiple times until the diver feels confident.
At last, it’s time for the diver to enter the tank solo! The first time this occurs, the diver’s microphone is not active for communication with our guests. This enables the diver to focus on the task at hand. Solo dives can also be repeated until the diver is comfortable. Then, he or she can participate in the educational dive talk and communicate with our guests about the experience!
During each dive, a GSC staff member is stationed at the top of the exhibit. This person’s role is to control diver’s air, monitor time, ensure no lines are tangled, stay alert for any animal movements, and be an extra set of eyes for the diver. He or she is in constant communication with the diver. In addition, a member of our education team is in front of the tank when a diver is in the water to act as yet another extra set of eyes as well as provide information to our guests!
We are currently looking for 4 – 5 divers to join our program. If interested, please join us on January 30, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. to learn more!