As divers we are constantly on the quest for new dive sites and adventures. There is no time that this is more evident than during the winter months where we’re scraping our windshields and shoveling snow. Of course the option always exists to jump on a plane to a tropical destination or brave that freezing quarry once again. More often than not those aren’t really viable. Either the boss or family obligations preclude you simply driving to the airport and taking to the skies. With respect to the freezing quarry…well, most often there are only so many times you can handle huddling around a fire or dumping warm water down your thick wetsuit. Of course there is a third option…aquarium diving! With most large metro areas having public aquariums, many also offer dive experiences as a way to keep divers active and to boost their bottom line. To add to that, quite a few aquariums have volunteer diver programs. I mean, you may be burning your bottom time vacuuming up fish waste but hey…you’re still blowing bubbles right? So, let’s take a look at just a few large aquariums and their SCUBA opportunities.
Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Illinois
Shedd Aquarium right up the street from our shop offers a pretty cool volunteer diver opportunity. They often seek volunteer divers in their Caribbean Reef, Marine Mammals, and Wild Reef Exhibits. The general requirements to be a volunteer diver is a minimum age of 21 and nationally recognized SCUBA certification with at least 30 logged dives.
National Aquarium, Baltimore Maryland
If you’re in the Washington DC metro area, the National Aquarium offers a volunteer diver program to help support their Dolphin Discovery and Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibits. The general requirement to be a volunteer diver is a minimum age of 18 and an advanced SCUBA certification from a nationally recognized agency with at least 30 logged dives.
Just want a cool dive experience? The National Aquarium has you covered there also. For a fee of 195 dollars, you get a 1 hour orientation and a 30-45 minute dive experience in their Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibit. The minimum requirements are 18 years old and older with a nationally recognized SCUBA certification.
Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Georgia
The Georgia Aquarium located right in the heart of Downtown Atlanta offers a rather awesome SCUBA experience swimming with whale sharks and other sea life. The cost of the program is 350 dollars. The requirements are to be a minimum age of 12 and be a certified SCUBA diver with a nationally recognized agency. Participants under the age of 18 must have a waiver and be accompanied by their parent guardian on the dive. The program lasts 2 and a half hours with a 30 minute dive and an opportunity to see some of the inner workings of the exhibit.
This is just a small sampling of SCUBA programs available to certified divers at many of the aquariums that dot the landscape of the world. So if you’re in the mood for a different type of dive experience, I encourage you to reach out to an aquarium near you. No airline tickets or freezing required!