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Georgia Aquarium Blog

Georgia Aquarium provides an entertaining, engaging and educational experience inspiring stewardship in conservation, research and the appreciation for the animal world. Visit us at www.georgiaaquarium.org.




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Wednesday
Oct212015

Tech Diving Training


October 21, 2015

Tech Diving Training

Written by: Chris Duncan
Dive Immersion Coordinator

Hippocrates said “Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases.” Now, the famous Greek scientist probably wasn’t referring to SCUBA diving and most likely wouldn’t classify it as a disease. On the contrary, SCUBA diving is very much a disease – moreover, an addiction. It’s an addiction fueled by the deep need for exploration, adventure and discovering anything worth discovering. SCUBA divers are of a breed that share their addiction with anyone from an astronaut to a surfer. What happens when these individuals have suppressed their disease and become somewhat bored? What is their remedy? New planets are discovered, untouched, remote swells are surfed, and the diver goes even deeper.

Technical diving is a step beyond recreational diving. It allows divers to go deeper and stay down longer to fill a void they can’t achieve in a conventional dive. Where recreational diving limits hit 130 feet, tech divers are able to reach depths beyond the recreational limits by breathing special mixtures of gas rather than compressed air. Tech diving requires decompression when the diver is ascending. The divers may also have to switch gasses at different depths. This type of diving opens many new opportunities in the underwater world. It is neither for the faint-of-heart nor the novice diver, but it does offer broader immersive opportunities for exploration.

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Monday
Oct192015

Freediving: Out of My Comfort Zone


October 19, 2015

Diving Out of My Comfort Zone

Written by: Sophie Gaze
Dive Immersion Senior Divemaster

“Whether you think you can, or you can't, you're right." - Henry Ford

I feel like after a certain age, let’s say 25 years old, you get locked into a daily routine of work and play, and it is rare to have the opportunity to do something that truly challenges your mind and body. Yes, you may go for a hard run after work, or be assigned a project by your boss that gives you a headache at the end of the day, but I’m referring to something that really takes an exhausting amount of determination to accomplish. Despite being 25 and pretty set in my comfortable routine of scuba diving with whale sharks every day, I was fortunate enough to recently experience this profound sense of achievement after completing my Intermediate Freediver course. 

Let me backtrack a bit – I have been in and out of the water, skin diving and freediving for as long as I can remember. My parents have home videos of me as a 5-year-old girl trying to dive down to 10 feet so I could keep up with my older brother. Although I enjoyed it, freediving was not something I ever considered myself to be good at. The thought of not breathing for any extended period of time really made me uncomfortable, to say the least.

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Sunday
Oct112015

#ThrowbackThursday #Halloween


October 15, 2015

#ThrowbackThursday #Halloween

Written by: Sophie Gaze
Dive Immersion Senior Divemaster

Georgia A-Scary-Um has finally kicked off and our dive team could not be more excited! To get you in the spirit, we have found our favorite costumes from previous years to share with you! Be sure to come watch the Dive Show in Ocean Voyager Built by The Home Depot on October 30 at 12:00 and 12:30 p.m. to see our divers in this year's underwater costumes!

 

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Thursday
Sep102015

Lights, Camera, Whale Sharks!


September 10, 2015

Lights, Camera, Whale Sharks!

Written by: Sophie Gaze
Dive Immersion Senior Divemaster

“Most photos are worth a thousand words. Underwater ones are worth at least a million.” – Stephen Frink, professional underwater photographer

In the Dive Immersion Program, we pride ourselves on delivering the best experience possible for our guests. From check-in on the dry side, to the bottom time, to the debrief in the classroom, we have meticulously calculated every detail of the program to make sure that Georgia Aquarium is continuing to be a leader in customer service within the SCUBA industry. 


While our guests dive or swim with the whale sharks, we shoot underwater footage of their journey. We then efficiently edit the raw clips into a smooth video that the participants view and can purchase at the end of their program. This process has taken a great deal of perfecting since our program’s inception in 2008, and we are very demanding of our staff to put every effort in to produce a high quality product for our guests. This is the keepsake that participants can view whenever they want to return to that magical, watery world, and we are determined to make sure that this memory is produced with an equal amount of significance.

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Wednesday
Aug122015

Scubapro Regulator Technician Class


August 12, 2015

Scubapro Regulator Technician Class

Written by: Sophie Gaze
Dive Immersion Senior Divemaster

Did you love to play with Legos when you were younger? I did too. There was always something so satisfying about when you finished reading the instructions and meticulously placing each piece to build a working toy. In a way, I still play with Legos, only now the tiny pieces, made from very special materials such as chrome and aluminum, have been perfectly designed and assembled to keep me breathing in 30 feet of water.

Just like choosing a car, in SCUBA diving there are lots of options when it comes to purchasing equipment. When buying a new car, we must consider the price, mileage, safety, convenience, appearances…the list goes on. It’s a very similar process when selecting SCUBA equipment. Since Georgia Aquarium opened, we have trusted Scubapro for the majority of our equipment, including the all-important regulators.


The regulator is the apparatus that attaches to the cylinder, or tank, and delivers air to the diver. The air in the cylinder is filled with filtered, compressed air that is too high in pressure for a SCUBA diver to breathe directly from the tank. Therefore, a regulator reduces the pressure of the air to a safe level, which the diver then breathes via a demand system.

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Wednesday
Jul292015

Operation Grace White: Journey with Gentle Giants


August 1, 2015

Operation Grace White: Journey with Gentle Giants

Written by: Sophie Gaze
Dive Immersion Senior Divemaster

Even in a job as wildly cool as ours, there are some days when I wake up and would prefer to lie on the couch binge-watching Netflix rather than take on a day at “the office.” July 16th was one of those days for me. It was the last day of my work week and I was looking forward to a few days off with friends. I walked into work with a coffee in hand, totally unaware that this day would be one that I held in my heart forever. Then I checked our daily roster and remembered: today I get to meet Grace White!

When Grace White’s family appeared on the deck of our exhibit, a sea of redheads came running out of our classroom: first Charlotte, Grace’s two-year-old sister, then her older siblings, Sophia and Jackson, and finally Grace and her parents, Scott and Amy. To all of our divemasters they looked like any other guests coming through our program, but Grace and her family are fighting an important battle.

Having a "whale" of a time: Grace, Sophia, and Charlotte come face to face with our beluga whales.

Grace is a young girl who has been diagnosed with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), a type of brain tumor that affects mostly children ages five through seven. DIPG is relatively rare with only 100 to 150 diagnoses each year in the United States. Due to lack of extensive research, this specific type of cancer has a 0% survival rate, with 90% of patients leaving this world within the first year. Despite these odds, Grace is 100% courageous and determined to fight this battle with guns blazing, and that’s exactly what the White family has set out to do.

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Tuesday
Jul282015

One Fish, Two Fish, Old Fish, NEW FISH!

July 28, 2015

One Fish, Two Fish, Old Fish, NEW FISH! 

Written by: Constance Towles
Georgia Aquarium Divemaster

Have you visited Ocean Voyager Built by The Home Depot lately? The fish are amazing and more colorful than ever! Headlining the show, along with our whale sharks and mantas at Georgia Aquarium, are well over a thousand new teleosts. Many different species of these ray-finned fishes have made homes along the 100-foot-long underwater tunnel in the middle of Ocean Voyager. For a diver who loves fish identification, this place is incredible!

As I dove over the tunnel this morning, so many colorful fishes danced before me that I couldn’t believe it! A huge school of more than 1400 smallmouth grunts, or Haemulon chrysargyreum, engulfed me, obscuring my view in a swirling cloud of yellow. A pageant of blue angelfish (see photo below), or Holacanthus bermudensis, swam by, trailing streamers of brilliant blue and yellow. French angelfish danced around in elegant yellow and black. I even caught a glimpse of a few royal grammas (Gramma loreto), also called fairy bassalets, hiding behind rocks and in reef balls. 

One of four new French angelfish.

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Thursday
Jul092015

My Favorite Coworkers


July 10, 2015

My Favorite Coworkers

Written by: Sophie Gaze
Dive Immersion Senior Divemaster

What do icicles, vending machines, champagne corks, coconuts, cows, bees, hot dogs, mosquitos, and deer all have in common? Well, they are all more likely to kill you than a shark.

Sharks have received a great deal of negative attention in the media this summer due to the growing number of "attacks" on the east coast of the United States. However, "shark attack" isn't necessarily the best term to describe these occurrences. Most of these incidents are cases of mistaken identity. Due to the media's spotlight on sharks right now, the public's fear is needlessly growing. Let me put your fears to rest.

Divemaster Jessica Catanzaro smiles in the shadow of one of our Gentle Giants.

At Georgia Aquarium, we have put nearly 30,000 guest divers in the water with a total of eight different species of shark since 2008. All of our guests exited the water unscathed and with a greater appreciation for these magnificent animals. So why do beachgoers in the open ocean seem to be in such danger right now? Experts speculate that it could be a combination of environmental and biological factors contributing to this "perfect storm" of unfavorable shark interactions. Warmer waters, changes in animal migration patterns and increased beach attendance may all be playing a factor. Whatever the cause is, it is important to know that the sharks are not to blame.

One of the common questions I get asked by guests touring Georgia Aquarium is "what's the most dangerous animal in the environment?" I always laugh at this question, because I have two, very real and honest answers.

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Friday
Jul032015

Home of the Free, Because of the Brave


July 3, 2015

Home of the Free, Because of the Brave

Written by: Sophie Gaze
Dive Immersion Senior Divemaster

Independence Day is one of the most awesome American holidays: barbecues, sunshine, cold drinks, family, friends and fireworks. It is a day of patriotism through and through. In the Dive Immersion Department at Georgia Aquarium, we hold this day even closer to our hearts. For our divers, July 4th represents the extraordinary guests who have come through our Veterans Immersion Program. We appreciate veterans, not only for their service, but also for their sacrifice so that we could have those awesome things, like a cheeseburger, under the hot sun, sipping on a cool drink, with our family and friends close by, while enjoying some beautiful fireworks.

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Monday
Jun222015

Swimming with the Fishes

June 22, 2015

Swimming with the Fishes 

Written by: Constance Towles
Georgia Aquarium Divemaster

How many people get up every day and excitedly rush to ready themselves for a day at work? Hair? Check. Uniform? Check. Lunch? Check. Breakfast? ... I'll grab something on the road. I started working for the Dive Immersion Program (DIP) at Georgia Aquarium just over four years ago and the magic of this place still keeps me rushing back. What do I do for a living? I swim with the fishes! (In a non-Luca Brasi way.)

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