Adventures of a Conservation Education Presenter at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Saturday, October 9, 2010
As a Marine Biology major (and as someone who wants to work at an aquarium), I thought being SCUBA certified might be somewhat beneficial... okay, really beneficial! So I started taking SCUBA lessons this semester with PADI, Professional Association of Diving Instructors. It's been a lot of fun! I've had a 3 hour class, once a week, where we go over skills and learn how to dive, obviously. Each week we also did a pool dive, where we were able to practice the skills we needed to master in a controlled environment. We learned about breathing, how pressure and buoyancy effect our dives, how to remove cramps, alternate air sources, etc. It was great. Now, as the class comes to an end, we have the option of doing our open water dives. As the year turns to fall, I thought it would be best to do the dives as soon as possible. Diving in a lake in the northern states is not something I'd really want to do just after the ice has melted! Today I completed the first half of my open water dives, with one more to go tomorrow! The water was a little over 60 degrees, but our wet suits, boots, gloves, and hoods helped a lot! I was surprised how insulated they were, but I was still shivering by the end. It's somewhat awkward with the wet suit on; you feel like your being pulled in 50 different directions, but you get used to it after a while. Your calf muscles also cramp up more in the cooler temperatures, so pay attention when they teach you cramp removal! You'll need it! Weights are another important aspect of diving. With the wet suits on we tend to float a lot more, so the recommended weight estimation is about 10 lbs. plus 10% of your body weight... not fun on land, but beneficial in the water. If you decide to do it and are nervous for your open water dive, don't worry about it. If you've paid attention in class and read the book like you're supposed to, you'll do fine. Your instructors are there to help you and will if you have any trouble. I highly recommend SCUBA diving to everyone who's ever even thought about it. You can take classes like I did or check out the online classes PADI offers. My instructor has been great and I can't wait to check out the ocean (and the sea turtles)! Hopefully I'll be able to dive in Florida!
(Leatherback sea turtles I helped release from Gandoca Hatchery in Costa Rica this past summer.)
If anybody has any questions, ask away! I'd be happy to help.