“There’s an underlying reality that I can never forget. If someone’s under 100 feet of water and something breaks…it’s my fault.”
Talk about a sense of responsibility.
Jeremy Heywood, the Vancouver Aquarium’s diving safety officer, says any little mistake he makes in servicing the Aquarium’s dive gear could lead to injury or death. That’s why he has to be meticulous in making sure all the gear is in perfect condition and that all Aquarium staff are following the diving safety protocols.
One of the dive operations he oversees at the Aquarium is the regular cleaning of the tropical cylinder exhibit in the Canaccord gallery. It’s a group effort involving three people that takes place before the Aquarium opens to visitors: the diver (doing the cleaning), the observer (watching from outside the exhibit) and the tender (who monitors from up top). Jeremy says that in addition to this exhibit, there are about 15 other exhibits, including the dolphin and beluga habitats, that staff dive into for cleaning purposes.
Overseeing diving operations at the Aquarium is just one part of Jeremy’s job. He also has to make sure things go smoothly when Aquarium divers are off-site. This, he says, is his favourite part of the job. With the Aquarium, he’s had the opportunity to dive all over southwestern B.C., although he adds with a laugh that people would be surprised to know just how little diving he actually does as part of his job.
While a child may grow up dreaming of being an astronaut, dancer or veterinarian, Jeremy says he never knew this type of occupation even existed. He’s the only diving safety officer at the Vancouver Aquarium, and one of only a handful across the country.
His family visited the Aquarium on a road trip from Ontario when he was a teenager. At the time, like many whale-struck teens, he wanted to be a marine mammal trainer. Looking back, he has no regrets about the different career path he ended up taking.