written by Jeanie Luu
About 71% of the Earth’s surface is water, and people spend most of their lives on the surface. But there are some who dive further to explore a whole new world
Scuba diving gives us a chance to breathe, see and swim deep underwater to observe and study the marine world that we can’t live in, but hugely depend on. For those of us who don’t scuba dive, we are lucky to see snapshots of this underwater world in the habitats in the Vancouver Aquarium. There are researchers and volunteer divers with Ocean Wise who aim to learn more about aquatic life. Last year, they completed 1278 dives! Volunteer divers with Ocean Wise dive in exhibits and may also go out on field dives where some of the best cold water diving can be done, around B.C. waters.
“I came to dive,” recalls Dwight, a valued volunteer diver, who says that his passion led him to begin volunteering about 20 years ago. As an avid diver, he shares that diving is therapeutic. “As long as you have air, everything is going to be ok.”
What keeps Dwight coming back after twenty years
“I love the people and the atmosphere. The Diving team always makes sure that we’re safe and prepared for a successful dive.” He also noted the important role of Ocean Wise in teaching the public about how marine life is interdependent to land life as a contributing factor.
He started as a Husbandry Volunteer Diver cleaning algae off of the habitats, making sure that the animals homes looked their best. He remembers having to use suction cups to clean around territorial catfish that wouldn’t move at all to let him clean the glass.
Although the role of a volunteer diver has changed throughout his time volunteering, Dwight’s experiences are those he’ll never forget. One of his favourite memories was the first time he ever dove with the Belugas that used to be at the aquarium. There were crowds of visitors with their noses pressed up against the glass admiring the majestic creatures from the other side. But Dwight didn’t notice them because he felt like it was just him and the belugas underwater. He witnessed their interactive nature when the belugas played with water bubbles, bumping and rolling them around.
Dwight has helped to keep the exhibits clean and sparkly, and now for the past few years, he is the exhibit! I hear that he works very closely with Scuba Claus around Christmastime.
Whatever it may be, Dwight is grateful for the time that he gets to spend underwater and being a part of the Ocean Wise mission.
Ocean Wise volunteer divers are expected to be a minimum of 19 years of age, have at least 5 or 25 cold water dives logged (depending on the type of diving volunteer), be SCUBA certified, have their own gear (except tank), and be first aid/CPR certified. Being a safe and responsible diver is mandatory. You will have an important role either on-site, maintaining and cleaning the habitats, or off-site accompanying the Fish Research Team in Howe Sound. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer diver with Ocean Wise, please visit www.vanaqua.org/volunteer.